USA v. Malcolm MacHauer

Filing

UNPUBLISHED OPINION FILED. [09-41027 Affirmed] Judge: JLW , Judge: RHB , Judge: FPB. Mandate pull date is 12/30/2010 for Appellant Malcolm David MacHauer [09-41027]

Download PDF
USA v. Malcolm MacHauer 09-41027 Case: Document: 00511317095 Page: 1 Date Filed: 12/09/2010 Doc. 0 IN THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS United States Court of Appeals FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT Fifth Circuit FILED N o . 09-41027 S u m m a r y Calendar December 9, 2010 Lyle W. Cayce Clerk U N IT E D STATES OF AMERICA, P la in t iff - Appellee v. M A L C O L M DAVID MACHAUER, D e fe n d a n t - Appellant A p p e a l from the United States District Court fo r the Eastern District of Texas U S D C No. 5:09-CR-1-1 B e fo r e WIENER, BARKSDALE, and BENAVIDES, Circuit Judges. P E R CURIAM:* M a lc o lm David MacHauer appeals his convictions for income tax evasion, in violation of 26 U.S.C. 7201. MacHauer contends the district court erred in d e n y in g four requested jury instructions. We need not decide the Government's p la in and harmless error contentions, because MacHauer's claims fail under our u s u a l standard of review, discussed below. "This court reviews a district court's refusal to include a defendant's p r o p o s e d jury instruction in the charge under an abuse of discretion standard." Pursuant to 5TH CIR. R. 47.5, the court has determined that this opinion should not be published and is not precedent except under the limited circumstances set forth in 5TH CIR. R. 47.5.4. * Dockets.Justia.com Case: 09-41027 Document: 00511317095 Page: 2 Date Filed: 12/09/2010 No. 09-41027 U n ite d States v. Simkanin, 420 F.3d 397, 410 (5th Cir. 2005). "`The refusal to g iv e a jury instruction constitutes error only if the instruction (1) was s u b s t a n t ia lly correct, (2) was not substantially covered in the charge delivered t o the jury, and (3) concerned an important issue so that the failure to give it s e r io u s ly impaired the defendant's ability to present a given defense.'" United S ta te s v. Clements, 73 F.3d 1330, 1338 (5th Cir. 1996) (internal quotation marks a n d citation omitted); accord Simkanin, 420 F.3d at 410 ("Under this test, this c o u r t will not find an abuse of discretion where the instructions actually given fa ir ly and adequately cover the issues presented by the case."). M a c H a u e r challenges the district court's general instruction to the jury on r e a s o n a b le doubt. The first of his requested instructions at issue stated: T h e line between honest belief and purposeful m is r e p r e s e n t a t io n and deceit is not always clear. Since t h e defendant's guilt or innocence depends upon where t h a t line is drawn, however, you may not convict if the e v id e n c e is evenly balanced between guilt and in n o c e n c e . T h e second stated: W h e n there is an innocent explanation for a d e fe n d a n t 's conduct as well as one which suggests that t h e defendant was engaged in wrong doing [sic], the G o v e r n m e n t must produce evidence which would allow y o u , the jury, to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt t h a t the Government's version of the defendant's c o n d u c t is the correct one. M a c H a u e r acknowledges the district court's general instruction on r e a s o n a b le doubt tracked our court's pattern instruction, see FIFTH CIRCUIT P ATTERN JURY INSTRUCTIONS (Criminal Cases) 1.05 (2001). Nevertheless, he c o n t e n d s the concept of reasonable doubt should have been further defined as p r o v id e d in the above two instructions. MacHauer maintains jurors need more c o n c r e t e , illustrative examples of what constitutes such doubt. 2 Case: 09-41027 Document: 00511317095 Page: 3 Date Filed: 12/09/2010 No. 09-41027 T h e district court had substantial latitude in formulating its reasonabled o u b t instruction, and MacHauer was not entitled to his proposed wording. United States v. Williams, 20 F.3d 125, 128 (5th Cir. 1994); United States v. H u n t, 794 F.2d 1095, 1097 (5th Cir. 1986). As discussed supra, "[a] district court h a s broad discretion in framing the instructions to the jury and this court will n o t reverse unless the instructions taken as a whole do not correctly reflect the is s u e s and law". United States v. Clayton, 506 F.3d 405, 410 (5th Cir. 2007) (in t e r n a l quotation marks and citation omitted). Both of these requested instructions were substantially covered by the c o u r t's reasonable-doubt instructions. They stated: MacHauer was presumed t o be innocent; the Government bore the burden of proving his guilt beyond a r e a s o n a b le doubt; and the jury was required to acquit MacHauer if the G o v e r n m e n t failed to meet its burden. The jury was also instructed: "Proof b e y o n d a reasonable doubt . . . is proof of such a convincing character that you w o u ld be willing to rely and act upon it without hesitation in the most important o f your own affairs". The district court did not err in denying the above two r e q u e s te d instructions. See Clements, 73 F.3d at 1338; see also United States v. S k e lto n , 514 F.3d 433, 446 (5th Cir.), cert denied, 129 S. Ct. 102 (2008) (r e c o g n iz in g district court does not err by giving instruction that tracks pattern in s t r u c t io n and correctly states the law). Additionally, to the extent MacHauer contends the court's reasonabled o u b t instruction was constitutionally deficient, see Sullivan v. Louisiana, 508 U .S . 275, 279-82 (1993), his argument is unavailing. Our court has determined t h e reasonable-doubt instruction given by the district court is proper. See United S ta te s v. Alonzo, 681 F.2d 997, 1002 (5th Cir. 1982); see also Williams, 20 F.3d a t 129 n.2. T h e two remaining requested instructions in issue pertain to whether M a c H a u e r 's conduct was willful. "The elements of a violation of 26 U.S.C. 7201 a r e : (1) existence of a tax deficiency; (2) an affirmative act constituting an 3 Case: 09-41027 Document: 00511317095 Page: 4 Date Filed: 12/09/2010 No. 09-41027 e v a s io n or an attempted evasion of the tax; and (3) willfulness." United States v . Miller, 588 F.3d 897, 907 (5th Cir. 2009). The focus of MacHauer's defense at t r ia l was the willfulness element. To prove willfulness, the Government was r e q u ir e d to show: "(1) the law imposed a duty on the defendant; (2) the d e fe n d a n t knew of that duty; and (3) the defendant voluntarily and intentionally v io la t e d that duty". Id. A defendant's good faith belief he was acting in a c c o r d a n c e with the law negates willfulness even if such belief was not o b je c t iv e ly reasonable. See Cheek v. United States, 498 U.S. 192, 201-03 (1991); S im k a n in , 420 F.3d at 404. On the other hand, a defendant's disagreement with a known legal duty under the tax laws or belief that they are unconstitutional o r otherwise invalid, regardless of how genuinely held, is, needless to say, not a d e fe n s e to willfulness. See Cheek, 498 U.S. at 202-04 & n.8; Simkanin, 420 F.3d a t 404. T h e district court instructed the jury: "neither a disagreement with the r e q u ir e m e n t s of the law, nor a belief that the tax laws are unconstitutional" con s t itu t e s a defense against the element of willfulness. MacHauer contends the fa ilu r e of the charge to further define the phrases "disagreement with the r e q u ir e m e n t s of the law" and "a belief that the tax laws are unconstitutional", a llo w e d the jury to return a finding of willfulness merely because MacHauer d is a g r e e d with the tax laws or believed them to be unconstitutional, rather than b e c a u s e he willfully violated his duty under the tax laws. Along that line, he c o n t e n d s the district court erred in denying the following requested instruction: T o find that the defendant had a "disagreement w it h the law" that would be evidence of the defendant a c t in g willfully, you the jury must find that he knew t h a t the federal income tax laws imposed a tax on his in c o m e and he consequently owed such taxes and was r e q u ir e d to file tax returns. T o find that the defendant believed that the fe d e r a l income tax laws were unconstitutional and thus s h o w that the defendant was acting willfully, you the 4 Case: 09-41027 Document: 00511317095 Page: 5 Date Filed: 12/09/2010 No. 09-41027 ju r y must find that he knew that the federal income tax la w s imposed a tax on his income and he consequently o w e d such taxes and was required to file tax returns. M a c H a u e r 's argument is unavailing. He takes issue with the denial of this in s t r u c t i o n because he maintains he did not subjectively "know" the federal in c o m e tax laws imposed a tax on his income because his independent research a lle g e d ly revealed he did not have such a responsibility. MacHauer contends he b e lie v e d he was not subject to income tax laws because of his status as an A m e r ic a n citizen. MacHauer's proposed instruction was substantially covered by the district c o u r t's instructions regarding willfulness, which included instructing the jury t h a t : satisfaction of the willfulness element required the Government to prove M a c H a u e r "knew of the requirements of the federal law and that he voluntarily a n d intentionally failed to comply"; MacHauer was "not presumed to know the l a w " ; and the Government bore the burden of proving MacHauer's knowledge w it h respect to "any law the Government assert[ed] [he] knew". Furthermore, t h e district court's charge did not instruct the jury that the element of w illfu ln e s s could be satisfied merely by a finding MacHauer disagreed with the la w or believed the law to be unconstitutional; the charge referred to such d is a g r e e m e n t or belief only in terms of not being a "defense" to willfulness. The final requested instruction at issue stated: I f upon consideration of all the evidence you are le ft with a reasonable doubt whether the defendant b e lie v e d that for the year 2002 his income was not t a x a b le , it shall be your duty to acquit him for count 1 o f the indictment. I f upon consideration of all the evidence you are le ft with a reasonable doubt whether the defendant b e lie v e d that for the year 2003 his income was not t a x a b le , it shall be your duty to acquit him for count 2 o f the indictment. 5 Case: 09-41027 Document: 00511317095 Page: 6 Date Filed: 12/09/2010 No. 09-41027 I f upon consideration of all the evidence you are le ft with a reasonable doubt whether the defendant b e lie v e d that for the year 2004 his income was not t a x a b le , it shall be your duty to acquit him for count 3 o f the indictment. A c c o r d in g to MacHauer, the district court was required to include this in s t r u c t io n because it set forth his defense theory. He also contends the district c o u r t violated his constitutional rights to present a complete defense and to e q u a l protection by refusing to instruct the jury on that theory. T h is requested instruction is misleading; needless to say, it implies M a c H a u e r was to be acquitted if he possessed any subjective belief his income w a s not taxable, without regard to whether such belief: was held in good faith, w a s based on his disagreement with the law, or was based on his opinion that t h e federal tax laws were unconstitutional. While defendant's good faith belief t h a t he was not violating the tax law negates willfulness, the same is obviously n o t true of defendant's disagreement with a known legal duty under the tax laws o r defendant's belief that they are inapplicable to him because they are u n c o n s t it u t io n a l or otherwise invalid. See Cheek, 498 U.S. at 201-04 & n.8; S im k a n in , 420 F.3d at 404. Because MacHauer's requested instruction did not c le a r ly state the applicable law, the district court did not err in denying it. See C la y to n , 506 F.3d at 411-12. F u r t h e r , MacHauer's theory of defense was substantially covered by the g iv e n charge. It included the following admonishment: "[Y]ou heard the d e fe n d a n t give testimony concerning his belief that his income was or is not t a x a b le . . . . This testimony was submitted to you as relevant to the defendant's d e fe n s e that he did not act willfully, as that term is used in these instructions". The district court later instructed the jury on the defense of good faith, stating: "A defendant does not act willfully if he believes in good faith that he is acting w it h in the law, or that his actions comply with the law." The district court fu r t h e r instructed regarding good faith: 6 Case: 09-41027 Document: 00511317095 Page: 7 Date Filed: 12/09/2010 No. 09-41027 T h e r e fo r e , if the defendant subjectively believed that w h a t he was doing was in compliance with the tax s t a t u t e s , he cannot be said to have the criminal intent r e q u ir e d by the charges against him. In proving w illfu ln e s s , it is the . . . Government's burden to prove b e y o n d a reasonable doubt that the defendant did not a c t with a good faith belief as to [what] the law required o f him. T h e s e instructions placed squarely before the jury MacHauer's defense t h e o r y . Again, "[w]hile a defendant is entitled to an instruction on his theory of d e fe n s e , he has no right to particular wording". Clayton, 506 F.3d at 410 (in t e r n a l quotation marks and citation omitted) (emphasis added). Further, g iv e n MacHauer's defense theory was covered in the district court's instructions, t h e r e is no merit to his contentions that the district court violated his c o n s t it u t io n a l rights to present a complete defense or to equal protection. A F F IR M E D . 7

Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.


Why Is My Information Online?