U.S. v. Kahl, No. 77-5619

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore MORGAN, CLARK, and TJOFLAT; CHARLES CLARK
Citation583 F.2d 1351
Parties78-2 USTC P 9842 UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Gordon W. KAHL, Defendant-Appellant. Summary Calendar. *
Decision Date16 November 1978
Docket NumberNo. 77-5619

Page 1351

583 F.2d 1351
78-2 USTC P 9842
UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Gordon W. KAHL, Defendant-Appellant.
No. 77-5619
Summary Calendar. *
United States Court of Appeals,
Fifth Circuit.
Nov. 16, 1978.

Page 1352

Gordon W. Kahl, pro se.

Jamie C. Boyd, U. S. Atty., LeRoy M. Jahn, Archie C. Pierce, Asst. U. S. Attys., San Antonio, Tex., for plaintiff-appellee.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas.

Before MORGAN, CLARK, and TJOFLAT, Circuit Judges.

Page 1353

CHARLES CLARK, Circuit Judge:

Based on a two-count information filed November 16, 1976, Gordon W. Kahl, an active tax protester, was charged with failure to file income tax returns for the years 1973 and 1974. The case was tried to a jury, and Kahl was convicted on both counts of the information. The district judge sentenced Kahl to two years in prison and assessed a $2,000 fine. One year of the sentence and payment of the fine were suspended, but the judge placed Kahl on probation for five years and required Kahl to furnish copies of his income tax returns filed during the probationary period. Citing numerous errors, Kahl appeals. We affirm the conviction.

In his most substantial challenge to the findings of the district court, Kahl asserts that the court erred in denying his claim that the Government singled him out for selective prosecution based on his status as a tax protester. The selective prosecution claim was presented in the pretrial proceedings, and the district judge, sitting without a jury, ruled that Kahl had failed to establish his claim. In one of the pretrial hearings, the parties stipulated to the fact that the government does have a policy of selectively prosecuting tax protesters. 1 Kahl claims that this stipulation, together with other evidence adduced at trial, was sufficient to sustain his claim of selective prosecution. We reject that contention.

Selective prosecution, if based on improper motives, can violate the equal protection clause of the fourteenth amendment. Oyler v. Boles, 368 U.S. 448, 82 S.Ct. 501, 7 L.Ed.2d 466 (1962). In order to make out a claim of selective prosecution the defendant must show: first, that others similarly situated generally have not been prosecuted; and second, that the Government's prosecution of him is selective, invidious, in bad faith or based on impermissible considerations such as race, religion, or his exercise of constitutional rights. United States v. Johnson, 577 F.2d 1304, 1308 (5th Cir. 1978); United States v. Murdock, 548 F.2d 599, 600 (5th Cir. 1977). Kahl contends that he has satisfied these requirements.

In pressing his claim of selective prosecution, Kahl principally relies upon United States v. Falk, 479 F.2d 616 (7th Cir. 1973) (en banc), and United States v. Steele, 461 F.2d 1148 (9th Cir. 1972). Those cases upheld claims of selective prosecution in contexts of prosecution for failure to possess a draft card and for violating the census laws, respectively. In Falk and Steele, the defendants showed that the Government was aware of violations of those laws by persons other than vocal protesters and that only the protesters had been prosecuted. Falk, 479 F.2d at 621; Steele, 461 F.2d at 1152. Thus, defendants in those cases proved that others similarly situated generally had not been prosecuted; the government knew of a number of violations of the statutes involved and chose to prosecute only those who spoke out against the laws.

The facts of Falk and Steele are different from those in this case. Here, Kahl did not prove that the Government failed to prosecute persons it knew had violated the filing laws. The pretrial stipulation, which Kahl contends established his selective prosecution claim, merely stated that the Government had a policy of selective prosecution; it did not show that the Government failed to prosecute anyone other than tax protesters. Indeed, an Internal Revenue Service supervisor testified that the IRS actively pursued all violations of the filing statute that came to the attention of IRS agents. 2

Page 1354

He also testified that, in his district in 1974, two individuals who were not tax protesters had been convicted for failure to file returns and that, in the years 1974-1978, less than one-third of the persons recommended for prosecution for failure to file in his district were tax protesters. Since the evidence adduced at trial showed that the Government did not discriminate in prosecuting persons for failure to file returns, the district court was correct in refusing to dismiss based on Kahl's claim of selective prosecution. 3 See United States v. Johnson, 577 F.2d at 1308 (5th Cir. 1978); United States v. Murdock, 548 F.2d 599, 600-601 (5th Cir. 1977); United States v. Oaks, 527 F.2d 937, 939-40 (9th Cir. 1975); United States v. Scott, 521 F.2d 1188, 1195 (9th Cir. 1975).

Kahl also contends that the district court erred in refusing to grant discovery of certain documents he claimed were in the possession of the government. Specifically, he sought nationwide statistics on the number of tax protesters charged with failure to file and the number of persons who were not tax protesters charged with that offense, together with Internal Revenue Service intelligence reports on tax protester activity. Kahl claimed that these items were essential to the preparation of his selective prosecution defense and therefore had to be disclosed. Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83, 83 S.Ct. 1194, 10 L.Ed.2d 215 (1963). We reject that argument.

Throughout the trial, the Government insisted that the nationwide statistics Kahl requested had not been compiled, and the district court denied discovery requests for these items. It clearly was not error to refuse to grant discovery of documents that did not exist. 4 United States v. Schembari,484 F.2d 931, 935 (4th Cir. 1973).

The Government admitted that the intelligence reports Kahl requested were in existence, but claimed that the reports were irrelevant to the issue of selective prosecution and were privileged. The trial court examined the documents In camera and found that they were not relevant to the selective prosecution defense, and, in the alternative, held that they were privileged under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 16(a)(2) and under the doctrine of executive privilege, United States v. Berrigan, 482 F.2d 171, 181 (3d Cir. 1973). Upon examination of the In camera material, we affirm the finding of the district court that the documents were irrelevant to the establishment of Kahl's selective prosecution claim. 5

Rulings on discovery motions are matters committed to the trial court's discretion, United States v. Ross, 511 F.2d 757, 762,

Page 1355

(5th Cir.), Cert. denied, 423 U.S. 836, 96 S.Ct. 62, 46 L.Ed.2d 54 (1975), and we will not overturn a trial court's resolution in the...

To continue reading

Request your trial
57 practice notes
  • FEDOROV v. U.S., No. 88-240
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • December 4, 1991
    ...extensive prosecution records in camera to determine why decision to prosecute had been made in individual cases); United States v. Kahl, 583 F.2d 1351, 1355 (5th Cir. 1978) (trial court conducted in camera review to determine if government documents were relevant to selective prosecution c......
  • United States v. Marcello, Crim. A. No. 80-274.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Louisiana)
    • January 9, 1981
    ...prevent his exercise of constitutional rights. See United States v. Johnson, 577 F.2d 1304, 1308 (5th Cir. 1978); United States v. Kahl, 583 F.2d 1351, 1353 (5th Cir. 1978). There has been some disagreement among the circuits, however, over the second prong of the test stated above. Some de......
  • U.S. v. Armstrong, Nos. 93-50031
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • April 20, 1994
    ...v. Berrigan, 482 F.2d 171, 181 (3rd Cir.1973). The Fifth Circuit's is "colorable claim of selective prosecution," United States v. Kahl, 583 F.2d 1351, 1355 (5th Cir.1978). The Sixth Circuit allows discovery where there is "some evidence tending to show the existence of the essential elemen......
  • U.S. v. Greene, Nos. 81-1625
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • January 31, 1983
    ...or the desire to prevent his exercise of constitutional rights. Rice, 659 F.2d at 526; Tibbetts, 646 F.2d at 195; United States v. Kahl, 583 F.2d 1351, 1353 (5th Cir.1978); United States v. Johnson, 577 F.2d 1304, 1308 (5th Cir.1978). See United States v. Berrios, 501 F.2d 1207, 1211 (2d Th......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
57 cases
  • FEDOROV v. U.S., No. 88-240
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • December 4, 1991
    ...extensive prosecution records in camera to determine why decision to prosecute had been made in individual cases); United States v. Kahl, 583 F.2d 1351, 1355 (5th Cir. 1978) (trial court conducted in camera review to determine if government documents were relevant to selective prosecution c......
  • United States v. Marcello, Crim. A. No. 80-274.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Louisiana)
    • January 9, 1981
    ...prevent his exercise of constitutional rights. See United States v. Johnson, 577 F.2d 1304, 1308 (5th Cir. 1978); United States v. Kahl, 583 F.2d 1351, 1353 (5th Cir. 1978). There has been some disagreement among the circuits, however, over the second prong of the test stated above. Some de......
  • U.S. v. Armstrong, Nos. 93-50031
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • April 20, 1994
    ...v. Berrigan, 482 F.2d 171, 181 (3rd Cir.1973). The Fifth Circuit's is "colorable claim of selective prosecution," United States v. Kahl, 583 F.2d 1351, 1355 (5th Cir.1978). The Sixth Circuit allows discovery where there is "some evidence tending to show the existence of the essential elemen......
  • U.S. v. Greene, Nos. 81-1625
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • January 31, 1983
    ...or the desire to prevent his exercise of constitutional rights. Rice, 659 F.2d at 526; Tibbetts, 646 F.2d at 195; United States v. Kahl, 583 F.2d 1351, 1353 (5th Cir.1978); United States v. Johnson, 577 F.2d 1304, 1308 (5th Cir.1978). See United States v. Berrios, 501 F.2d 1207, 1211 (2d Th......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT