Wright v. United States

Decision Date22 December 1964
Docket NumberNo. 19290.,19290.
Citation339 F.2d 578
PartiesLouise A. WRIGHT, Appellant, v. UNITED STATES of America, Appellee.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Ninth Circuit

Thomas J. Klitgaard, San Francisco, Cal., for appellant.

Francis C. Whelan, U. S. Atty., Richard A. Murphy, Asst. U. S. Atty., Chief, Crim. Sec., Kevin O'Connell, Stephen Miller, Asst. U. S. Attys., Los Angeles, Cal., for appellee.

Before JERTBERG, MERRILL, and BROWNING, Circuit Judges.

BROWNING, Circuit Judge:

Appellant was charged with violating the Dyer Act. 18 U.S.C.A. § 2312. The car admittedly came into appellant's possession with the consent of the owner. Appellant's defense was that she intended to purchase the car, not to steal it, and, in any event, had done no more than exceed the scope of the permission given by the owner as to time and place of use of the vehicle, which was not in itself sufficient to establish an intent to steal.

Appellant's counsel submitted written requests for instructions reflecting this theory of defense. Counsel asked to be advised prior to closing arguments which of the submitted requests the court was going to accept. The court responded, "I am going to give the general instructions. And you go ahead and argue the case any way you want to argue it. And I will instruct the jury as to the law involved in this case."

Appellant's counsel proceeded to make his argument, basing it in part upon the theory of defense reflected in his requests. The court then charged the jury without giving the requested instructions, or any others dealing adequately with appellant's theory — for we do not think the general instruction to which the government points* can be said to do so.

Appellant contends that the district court failed to comply with the mandate of Rule 30, Fed.R.Crim.P., that "The court shall inform counsel of its proposed action upon the requests prior to their arguments to the jury * * *." The government argues that the court complied with the Rule; and, if it did not, that the error was harmless.

The government reads the first sentence of the court's response as a statement that all of appellant's written requests were rejected, and that the court would give those of the "general instructions" reported at 27 F.R.D. 39 as were appropriate to the case. Appellant's counsel states that he understood, and so indicated by the objection which he immediately interposed, that the court was refusing to advise him in advance which of the requested instructions would be given.

"The obvious object of the rule in point is to require the judge to inform the trial lawyers in a fair way what the charge is going to be, so that they may intelligently argue the case to the jury." Ross v. United States, 180 F.2d 160, 165 (6th Cir. 1950). See also Downie v. Powers, 193 F.2d 760, 766-767 (10th Cir. 1951). Measured against the purpose of Rule 30, we think the court's cryptic remarks were inadequate.

Nor can we say that the error may be disregarded as not...

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27 cases
  • U.S. v. Wander
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Third Circuit
    • June 27, 1979
    ...argument, not the soundness of that ruling, which violated Rule 30 and prejudicially affected counsel's summation." Wright v. United States, 339 F.2d 578, 580 (9th Cir. 1964); See United States v. Harvill, 501 F.2d 295 (9th Cir. 1974). 5 We therefore, hold that the material modification by ......
  • People v. Clark
    • United States
    • Michigan Supreme Court
    • December 27, 1996
    ...unfairly prevented from arguing his defense to the jury or was substantially misled in formulating his arguments"); Wright v. United States, 339 F.2d 578, 579 (C.A.9, 1964) ("[c]ounsel's closing argument was based upon a theory of defense which the court rejected, or at least ignored, in it......
  • Commonwealth v. Melvin
    • United States
    • Pennsylvania Superior Court
    • August 21, 2014
    ...the soundness of that ruling, which violate[s] Rule 30 and prejudicially affect[s] counsel's summation.”) (quoting Wright v. United States, 339 F.2d 578, 580 (9th Cir.1964) ).32 In its Rule 1925(a) written opinion, the trial court contends that Orie Melvin cannot challenge the apology lette......
  • U.S. v. McCown
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Ninth Circuit
    • August 2, 1983
    ...actual jury instruction may contradict or repudiate the thrust of closing argument. See Harvill, 501 F.2d at 297; Wright v. United States, 339 F.2d 578, 580 (9th Cir.1964). However, the situation with which we are faced is not one where defense counsel made closing argument under the mistak......
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