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United States v. Bell

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

October 22, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
RAYMOND LEO JARLIK BELL, AKA Raymond Leo Bell, Defendant-Appellant

Argued and Submitted August 28, 2014, Seattle, Washington

Page 1254

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington. D.C. No. 3:11-cr-05407RBL-1. Ronald B. Leighton, District Judge, Presiding.

SUMMARY[*]

Criminal Law

The panel affirmed in part and vacated in part the district court's judgment, and remanded, in a case in which the defendant was convicted of making false, fictitious, and fraudulent claims to the United States Treasury; assisting in the filing of false tax returns; criminal contempt; and mail fraud.

The panel rejected the defendant's contention that the district court committed reversible error under the Sixth Amendment by not prompting him to present a closing argument, where the defendant, who represented himself, had a meaningful opportunity to make a closing argument but chose to remain silent. The panel wrote that nothing in Herring v. New York, 422 U.S. 853, 95 S.Ct. 2550, 45 L.Ed.2d 593 (1975), or this court's precedents gives a self-represented defendant a right to be affirmatively and individually advised that he or she has a right to present a closing argument.

The panel held that a rational jury could find beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant assisted his son in preparing the latter's fraudulent returns in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 7206(2).

The panel vacated supervised-release conditions requiring the defendant to undergo substance abuse treatment and to abstain from consuming alcohol, and remanded with instructions that the district court explain its reasons if it chooses to re-impose them, where the record contains no evidence showing that the defendant abused alcohol or other substances.

Concurring, Judge Hawkins would affirm on the narrower grounds that the defendant's non-participation during the course of the trial and his failure to object or request argument effectively waived his right to make a closing argument. Judge Hawkins would not say that a defendant in a criminal case, pro se or otherwise, need not be advised of an opportunity to make closing remarks to the jury.

Gregory Charles Link (argued), Washington Appellate Project, Seattle, Washington, for Defendant-Appellant.

Jenny A. Durkan, United States Attorney, Michael Symington Morgan (argued), Assistant United States Attorney, Seattle, Washington, for Plaintiff-Appellee.

Before: Michael D. Hawkins, Susan P. Graber, and Ronald M. Gould, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 1255

GOULD, Circuit Judge.

Raymond Bell (" Bell" ) appeals from his jury convictions for making false, fictitious, and fraudulent claims to the United States Treasury under 18 U.S.C. § 287, assisting in the filing of false tax returns under 26 U.S.C. § 7206(2), criminal contempt under 18 U.S.C. § 401(3), and mail fraud under 18 U.S.C. § 1341. Bell also appeals the district court's supervised release conditions imposed as part of his sentence. We must decide (1) whether the district court committed reversible error under the Sixth Amendment when it did not prompt Bell to present a closing argument; (2) whether the government provided sufficient evidence to prove that Bell assisted Steven Bell in the filing of fraudulent tax returns; and (3) ...


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