U.S. v. Voss, s. 94-1320

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore TACHA, BRORBY, and HENRY; HENRY
Citation82 F.3d 1521
Parties-2229 UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. John A. VOSS, Defendant-Appellant. UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Mitchell S. BEALS, Defendant-Appellant. UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Brent L. BEALS, Defendant-Appellant. to 94-1322.
Docket NumberNos. 94-1320,s. 94-1320
Decision Date02 May 1996

Page 1521

82 F.3d 1521
77 A.F.T.R.2d 96-2229
UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
John A. VOSS, Defendant-Appellant.
UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Mitchell S. BEALS, Defendant-Appellant.
UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Brent L. BEALS, Defendant-Appellant.
Nos. 94-1320 to 94-1322.
United States Court of Appeals,
Tenth Circuit.
May 2, 1996.
Rehearing Denied June 28, 1996.

Page 1523

Appeals from the United States District Court for the District of Colorado; Jim R. Carrigan, Judge. (D.C. Nos. 93-CR-163-1, 93-CR-163-2, and 93-CR-163-3).

William A. Cohan, Encinitas, California, for Defendant-Appellant John A. Voss and Defendant-Appellant Brent L. Beals.

Warren R. Williamson, Assistant Federal Public Defender (Michael G. Katz, Federal Public Defender, with him on the briefs), Denver, Colorado, for Defendant-Appellant Mitchell Beals.

James C. Murphy, Assistant U.S. Attorney (Henry L. Solano, U.S. Attorney with him on the briefs), Denver, Colorado, for Plaintiff-Appellee U.S.

Before TACHA, BRORBY, and HENRY, Circuit Judges.

HENRY, Circuit Judge.

The defendants John A. Voss, Mitchell S. Beals, and Brent L. Beals appeal their jury convictions and sentences for criminal contempt under 18 U.S.C. § 401(3). They argue that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to support their convictions, that the district court applied the wrong provision of the United States Sentencing Guidelines when calculating their sentences, and that the court improperly increased their offense levels for substantial interference with the administration of justice. Additionally, John Voss and Brent Beals argue that the district court erred by refusing to submit a number of their proposed instructions to the jury. We have jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1291, and we affirm the district court's judgment in all respects.

I. BACKGROUND

The defendants are members of a group called the National Commodity and Barter Association (NCBA). The defendants describe the NCBA as "a political/educational association espousing dissident views regarding the federal reserve and the income tax systems and advocat[ing] the return to currency backed by gold and/or silver." Br. of Aplts. John Voss and Brent Beals at 4. Between 1985 and 1990, the NCBA operated the National Commodities Exchange (NCE), which was a private banking operation that provided financial services to NCBA members.

John Voss testified at trial that he has been the director of the NCBA since 1986. Mitchell Beals testified that he had headed

Page 1524

the NCE from late 1985 to mid-1988, and that his brother, Brent Beals, had operated the NCE from mid-1988 until the NCE closed in 1990. Mitchell Beals also testified that he created the Mutual Assistance Plan (MAP) in 1984. The MAP is a legal defense fund supported wholly from NCBA member contributions. Mitchell Beals testified at trial that he had invited Brent Beals to take over the operations of the NCE in 1988 so that he could "turn [his] focus back" to running the MAP program. Rec. vol. XII at 1407.

In July of 1990, a federal grand jury that had been investigating the NCBA and the NCE issued two subpoenas requiring production of the business and financial records of the organizations: the first was addressed to "Custodian of Records" for the NCBA; see Aplee. Addendum doc. 1; the second was addressed to "Custodian of Records" for the NCE; see id. doc. 2. Both subpoenas specifically included "[d]ocuments relating to the Mutual Assistance Program." Id. doc. 1 attach., doc. 2 attach. The subpoenas were served upon an attorney for the two organizations.

The NCBA and the NCE thereafter filed a petition to quash the subpoenas. The district court held a hearing on the petition, and the district court's minutes reflect that John Voss and Mitchell Beals appeared on behalf of the petitioners. 1 The district court denied the petition and entered an order stating that the "petitioners are DIRECTED to comply with [the] subpoenas ... forthwith." Aplt. Brent Beals's Addendum at 4. The organizations then moved the court to stay compliance with the subpoenas pending the resolution of their appeal. The district court denied the motion to stay and entered a second order, this time directing the organizations to comply with the subpoenas by December 10, 1990. See id. at 6-7. Both organizations refused to comply.

In April of 1991, the district court held the organizations in civil contempt and imposed a fine of fifty dollars for each day of noncompliance with the court's order. Both the contempt citation and the fine were affirmed by this court on appeal, see National Commodity & Barter Ass'n v. United States, 972 F.2d 356 (10th Cir.1992), and the Supreme Court denied certiorari, see 507 U.S. 972, 113 S.Ct. 1413, 122 L.Ed.2d 784 (1993).

In 1993, two new subpoenas were issued by a new grand jury. These were also addressed to the "Custodian of Records" for each organization, but this time they were personally served upon Mr. Voss. See Aplee. Addendum doc. 9, doc. 10. The district court subsequently entered another order directing the NCBA and the NCE to comply with the subpoenas. The organizations still failed to comply.

The grand jury thereafter returned indictments against the defendants for criminal contempt in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 401(3), for conspiring to defraud the United States government by impairing and impeding the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in its duties in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371, and for structuring financial transactions to evade currency transaction reporting requirements in violation of 31 U.S.C. §§ 5322(a), 5324(3) and 18 U.S.C. § 2. After a jury trial, the defendants were acquitted on all but the criminal contempt charges. The defendants then moved for judgments of acquittal, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to support the jury's verdict on the contempt charges. These motions were denied. The defendants were ultimately sentenced to terms ranging from twelve to twenty-four months' imprisonment. They now appeal.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Sufficiency of the Evidence

The defendants first argue that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to support their contempt convictions. In making this argument, the defendants are faced with a high hurdle: in reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence to support a jury verdict, this court must review the record de

Page 1525

novo "and ask only whether, taking the evidence--'both direct and circumstantial, together with the reasonable inferences to be drawn therefrom'--in the light most favorable to the government, a reasonable jury could find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt." United States v. Urena, 27 F.3d 1487, 1489 (10th Cir.) (quoting United States v. Hooks, 780 F.2d 1526, 1531 (10th Cir.), cert. denied, 475 U.S. 1128, 106 S.Ct. 1657, 90 L.Ed.2d 199 (1986)), cert. denied, --- U.S. ----, 115 S.Ct. 455, 130 L.Ed.2d 364 (1994).

Federal courts are authorized by statute to punish contempt: "A court of the United States shall have power to punish by fine or imprisonment, at its discretion, such contempt of its authority and none other, as ... [d]isobedience or resistance to its lawful writ, process, order, rule, decree, or command." 18 U.S.C. § 401(3). The defendants contend that under this statute, a court's order must be sufficiently specific to put the defendants on notice that they are personally required to comply. They maintain that the evidence at trial failed to show that the district court's order in this case was adequate to put them on notice that they were personally required to produce the subpoenaed documents on behalf of the NCBA and the NCE.

1. Notice to Individual Defendants

Although this circuit has not dispositively addressed this issue, several other circuits have recognized a notice requirement under § 401(3). Almost all of those circuits have agreed that one may be held in contempt only if the court's order is sufficiently specific so as to put the alleged contemnor on notice. See, e.g., Hazen v. Reagen, 16 F.3d 921, 924 (8th Cir.1994) ("Before a party can be held in contempt for violating a court order, he must have actual knowledge of the order and the order must be 'sufficiently specific to be enforceable.' " (quoting Finney v. Arkansas Bd. of Correction, 505 F.2d 194, 213 (8th Cir.1974))); Cooper v. Texaco, Inc., 961 F.2d 71, 72 n. 3 (5th Cir.1992) ("There are three elements to contempt under 18 U.S.C. § 401(3):(1) a reasonably specific order, (2) violation of the order, and (3) the willful intent to violate the order." (citing United States v. Burstyn, 878 F.2d 1322, 1324 (11th Cir.1989))); United States v. Powers, 629 F.2d 619, 627 (9th Cir.1980) ("Criminal contempt is established when there is a clear and definite order of the court, the contemnor knows of the order, and the contemnor willfully disobeys the order."); In re Rubin, 378 F.2d 104, 108 (3d Cir.1967) ("[T]he alleged contemnor [must have] had knowledge of the order which he is said to have violated[,]" and the order "must be specific and definite." (citing Wilson v. North Carolina, 169 U.S. 586, 600, 18 S.Ct. 435, 440-41, 42 L.Ed. 865 (1898)); Terminal R.R. Ass'n v. United States, 266 U.S. 17, 29, 45 S.Ct. 5, 8, 69 L.Ed. 150 (1924)); cf. Project B.A.S.I.C. v. Kemp, 947 F.2d 11, 16 (1st Cir.1991) (noting that a court order must be "clear and unambiguous," and that any ambiguities must be construed in a light favorable to those charged with contempt).

In arguing that the subject subpoenas and court orders were sufficiently specific, the government relies primarily on Wilson v. United States, 221 U.S. 361, 31 S.Ct. 538, 55 L.Ed. 771 (1911); Nilva v. United States, 352 U.S. 385, 77 S.Ct. 431, 1 L.Ed.2d 415 (1957); and general principles regarding the responsibility of officers and agents to respond to subpoenas directed to corporate entities. In Wilson, the Court noted that "[a] command to the corporation...

To continue reading

Request your trial
63 practice notes
  • USA v. Jackson, Nos. 98-6487
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
    • June 2, 2000
    ...most favorable to the government, a reasonable jury could find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. United States v. Voss, 82 F.3d 1521, 1524-25 (10th Cir.) (quotation marks and citations omitted), cert. denied, 519 U.S. 889 (1996). After examining the record, we conclude the evi......
  • Murphy v. Sirmons, CIV-03-443-RAW-KEW.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. Eastern District of Oklahoma
    • August 1, 2007
    ...Aggravating and Mitigating Factors Issues regarding whether a jury was properly instructed are questions of law. United States v. Voss, 82 F.3d 1521 (10th Cir.1996). Accordingly, in order to grant relief on this issue, the decision of the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals must be "contrary......
  • U.S. v. Chanthadara, 97-3229
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
    • November 1, 2000
    ...of these instructions de novo and refusal to deliver a particular instruction for abuse of discretion. See United States v. Voss, 82 F.3d 1521 (10th Cir. 1996). Mr. Chanthadara first challenges the instruction stating that the element is satisfied when interstate commerce is "actually or po......
  • U.S. v. Wardell, 06-1108.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
    • September 22, 2009
    ...determination that Mr. Wardell's conduct warrants the adjustment. Accordingly, we review for clear error. See United States v. Voss, 82 F.3d 1521, 1532 (10th Cir.1996) (reviewing obstruction adjustment under U.S.S.G. § 2J. 1.2(b)(2) concerning "substantial interference with the administrati......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
63 cases
  • USA v. Jackson, Nos. 98-6487
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
    • June 2, 2000
    ...most favorable to the government, a reasonable jury could find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. United States v. Voss, 82 F.3d 1521, 1524-25 (10th Cir.) (quotation marks and citations omitted), cert. denied, 519 U.S. 889 (1996). After examining the record, we conclude the evi......
  • Murphy v. Sirmons, CIV-03-443-RAW-KEW.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. Eastern District of Oklahoma
    • August 1, 2007
    ...Aggravating and Mitigating Factors Issues regarding whether a jury was properly instructed are questions of law. United States v. Voss, 82 F.3d 1521 (10th Cir.1996). Accordingly, in order to grant relief on this issue, the decision of the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals must be "contrary......
  • U.S. v. Chanthadara, 97-3229
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
    • November 1, 2000
    ...of these instructions de novo and refusal to deliver a particular instruction for abuse of discretion. See United States v. Voss, 82 F.3d 1521 (10th Cir. 1996). Mr. Chanthadara first challenges the instruction stating that the element is satisfied when interstate commerce is "actually or po......
  • U.S. v. Smith, 96-1245
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
    • December 31, 1997
    ...to be drawn therefrom. Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 319, 99 S.Ct. 2781, 2789, 61 L.Ed.2d 560 (1979); United States v. Voss, 82 F.3d 1521, 1524-25 (10th Cir.), cert. denied, --- U.S. ----, 117 S.Ct. 226, 136 L.Ed.2d 158 (1996). "We do not use this evaluation as a chance to second-guess......
  • 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