United States v. Ridens, Crim. A. No. 73-305.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
Writing for the CourtGORBEY
Citation362 F. Supp. 358
PartiesUNITED STATES of America v. Robert Ernest RIDENS, a/k/a Alexander Scott.
Decision Date10 August 1973
Docket NumberCrim. A. No. 73-305.

362 F. Supp. 358

UNITED STATES of America
v.
Robert Ernest RIDENS, a/k/a Alexander Scott.

Crim. A. No. 73-305.

United States District Court, E. D. Pennsylvania.

August 10, 1973.


Robert N. deLuca, Asst. U. S. Atty., Philadelphia, Pa., for plaintiff.

Edward Weis, Philadelphia, Pa., for defendant.

OPINION

GORBEY, District Judge.

At a trial by jury, Robert Ernest Ridens was found guilty of interstate travel with the intent to carry on extortion,1

362 F. Supp. 359
as charged by counts I and III of the indictment; and use of a firearm to commit an offense of interestate travel in aid of racketeering,2 as charged by counts II and IV of the indictment. Before this court is the defendant's motion for a new trial and/or in arrest of judgment

The defendant asserts it was error to grant a motion by the Assistant United States Attorney to amend counts II and IV of the indictment. Also, the defendant alleges the court erred in not requiring the government to elect between counts I and III and counts II and IV, which he contends are multiplicious.

At the beginning of the trial, the government moved to amend counts II and IV of the indictment. Counts II and IV originally charged that the defendant illegally carried or used a firearm on September 18, 1971. The court granted an amendment, which charged that the firearm was illegally used or carried on September 18, 1972. Counsel for the defendant does not contend that the incorrect date was anything other than a clerical error. Further, defendant's counsel admitted that the defendant would not be prejudiced by any amendment.3

It is the defendant's contention that by amending part of the indictment, the government has deprived the defendant of his right, guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, not to be held to answer for any serious crime unless the charges are brought by an indictment issued by a grand jury. In support of this proposition, he cites Ex Parte Bain, 121 U.S. 1, 7 S.Ct. 781, 30 L.Ed. 849 (1887), which granted a writ of habeas corpus because the trial court had permitted an amendment striking an inconsequential phrase from an indictment. Since the decision of Bain, the Supreme Court has recognized that "Not all trial errors which violate the Constitution automatically call for reversal." Harrington v. California, 395 U.S. 250 at 251-252, 89 S.Ct. 1726 at 1727, 23 L.Ed.2d 284 (1969). In Chapman v. California, 386 U.S. 18 at 24, 87 S.Ct. 824, at 828, 17 L.Ed.2d 705 (1967), the Court stated that: "Before a federal constitutional error can be held harmless, the court must be able to declare a belief that it was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt." In this case, the alleged error is clearly harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. Neither the government nor counsel for the defendant made any mention of the discrepancy in the date until it was discovered by the court at the trial. After it was discovered, counsel for the defendant admitted that he would not be prejudiced by any amendment. Further, even if the amendment had not been allowed, the proof offered by the government would have been sufficient to support the crime charged in the indictment before amendment. In Russell v. United States, 429 F.2d 237 (5th Cir. 1970), it was held that the trial judge did not err in refusing to dismiss the indictment and admit...

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1 practice notes
  • Vaughn v. State, No. 876S236
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • August 4, 1978
    ...71 App.D.C. 89, 107 F.2d 288, Cert. denied (1939), 308 U.S. 618, 60 S.Ct. 296, 84 L.Ed. 516; United States v. Ridens (E.D.Pa.1973), 362 F.Supp. 358; United States v. Mamber (D.Mass.1955), 127 F.Supp. 1925; United States v. General Electric Co. (S.D.N.Y.1941), 40 F.Supp. 627. Cf. Ind.Code § ......
1 cases
  • Vaughn v. State, No. 876S236
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • August 4, 1978
    ...71 App.D.C. 89, 107 F.2d 288, Cert. denied (1939), 308 U.S. 618, 60 S.Ct. 296, 84 L.Ed. 516; United States v. Ridens (E.D.Pa.1973), 362 F.Supp. 358; United States v. Mamber (D.Mass.1955), 127 F.Supp. 1925; United States v. General Electric Co. (S.D.N.Y.1941), 40 F.Supp. 627. Cf. Ind.Code § ......

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