United States v. Villegas, No. 73-1574.

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtCHOY and GOODWIN, Circuit , and EAST
Citation487 F.2d 882
PartiesUNITED STATES of America, Appellee, v. Robert Rivas VILLEGAS, Appellant.
Docket NumberNo. 73-1574.
Decision Date09 November 1973

487 F.2d 882 (1973)

UNITED STATES of America, Appellee,
v.
Robert Rivas VILLEGAS, Appellant.

No. 73-1574.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.

November 9, 1973.


Ronald Le Mieux, Los Angeles, Cal., for appellant.

William D. Keller, U. S. Atty., Curtis B. Rappe, Asst. U. S. Atty., Los Angeles, Cal., for appellee.

Before CHOY and GOODWIN, Circuit Judges, and EAST,* District Judge.

ALFRED T. GOODWIN, Circuit Judge:

Robert Rivas Villegas was convicted of possession with intent to distribute and distribution of heroin. In this appeal he asserts that this circuit should change its rule on proof of prior convictions for impeachment.

Villegas, having been convicted in California in 1964 of a marijuana felony, requested a pretrial ruling that the government could not use evidence of the prior conviction to impeach him if he elected to testify in his own case. The district judge refused the request, and Villegas elected not to testify. The ruling was correct.1

Academic speculation2 and occasional dicta in our decisions3 have encouraged

487 F.2d 883
defendants to renew the debate which had been stimulated by the brief reign in the District of Columbia Circuit of the so-called Luck rule

In Luck v. United States, 121 U.S. App.D.C. 151, 348 F.2d 763 (1965), the court held that not every prior conviction could be used by the prosecution to impeach a witness, but only proof of such felonies as the court, in its discretion, might find relevant on the question of credibility, after balancing a number of factors that could be expected to vary from case to case. The Luck rule, with its resultant mini-trials on collateral matters, did not commend itself to the other circuits, and was abandoned in the District of Columbia after Section 14-305 of the D.C. Code was amended to provide that proof of any prior felony conviction must be received if offered for impeachment.4

This is not to say that some version of the Luck rule should never be read into the rules of evidence for use in this circuit.5 That question is not before us. This court could consider it only by sitting en banc. See concurring opinion of Judge Hamley in Burg v. United States, 406 F.2d 235, 238 (9th Cir. 1965).

To date, this court has shown no disposition to abandon its long-standing rule that proof of any prior felony conviction may be given by the adversary to impeach any witness, including a defendant who elects to testify in a criminal trial. The list of cases cited recently...

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9 practice notes
  • U.S. v. Cook, No. 76-3465
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • June 29, 1979
    ...admissibility of the evidence of prior convictions and held that they would have been admissible. Earlier, in United States v. Villegas, 487 F.2d 882 (9th Cir. 1973), we considered, and rejected, a pre-Rule 609 motion to exclude evidence of convictions that had little or no direct bearing u......
  • U.S. v. Brashier, Nos. 75-3375
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • December 29, 1976
    ...States, 121 U.S.App.D.C. 151, 348 F.2d 763 (1965). The Luck rule has not been adopted in the Ninth Circuit, United States v. Villegas, 487 F.2d 882, 883 (9th Cir. 1973); United States v. Haili, 443 F.2d 1295, 1298 (9th Cir. The present federal rule 609(a)(1), however, finds its genesis in t......
  • U.S. v. Marshall, No. 74-3038
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • March 24, 1976
    ...error. The law of this Circuit, at the time of Marshall's trial, was well summarized in our decision in United States v. Villegas, 487 F.2d 882, 883 (9th Cir. 1973), where we stated: "(T)his court has shown no disposition to abandon its long-standing rule that proof of any prior felony conv......
  • United States v. Jackson, No. 75-CR-797.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • November 20, 1975
    ...415 U.S. 916, 94 S.Ct. 1412, 39 L.Ed.2d 470 (1973); Sears v. United States, 490 F.2d 150, 154 (8th Cir. 1974); United States v. Villegas, 487 F.2d 882, 883 (9th Cir. 1973); Butler v. United States, 408 F.2d 1103 (10th Cir. 1969). The Luck doctrine also served as the prototype for the early ......
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9 cases
  • U.S. v. Cook, No. 76-3465
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • June 29, 1979
    ...admissibility of the evidence of prior convictions and held that they would have been admissible. Earlier, in United States v. Villegas, 487 F.2d 882 (9th Cir. 1973), we considered, and rejected, a pre-Rule 609 motion to exclude evidence of convictions that had little or no direct bearing u......
  • U.S. v. Brashier, Nos. 75-3375
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • December 29, 1976
    ...States, 121 U.S.App.D.C. 151, 348 F.2d 763 (1965). The Luck rule has not been adopted in the Ninth Circuit, United States v. Villegas, 487 F.2d 882, 883 (9th Cir. 1973); United States v. Haili, 443 F.2d 1295, 1298 (9th Cir. The present federal rule 609(a)(1), however, finds its genesis in t......
  • U.S. v. Marshall, No. 74-3038
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • March 24, 1976
    ...error. The law of this Circuit, at the time of Marshall's trial, was well summarized in our decision in United States v. Villegas, 487 F.2d 882, 883 (9th Cir. 1973), where we stated: "(T)his court has shown no disposition to abandon its long-standing rule that proof of any prior felony conv......
  • United States v. Jackson, No. 75-CR-797.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • November 20, 1975
    ...415 U.S. 916, 94 S.Ct. 1412, 39 L.Ed.2d 470 (1973); Sears v. United States, 490 F.2d 150, 154 (8th Cir. 1974); United States v. Villegas, 487 F.2d 882, 883 (9th Cir. 1973); Butler v. United States, 408 F.2d 1103 (10th Cir. 1969). The Luck doctrine also served as the prototype for the early ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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