Sunday, August 29, 2010
The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed several convictions in the case of United States v. Kottwitz for failure to give a "requested special instruction to the jury on their good faith reliance on their accountant's advice."
The court stated: "A trial court is not free to determine the existence of the defendant’s theory of defense as a matter of law; it is established by the defendant’s presentation of an evidentiary and legal foundation and, once established, the defendant is entitled to jury instructions on that defense theory." (citations omitted)
The court also stated: "The defendant bears an "extremely low" threshold to justify the good faith reliance instruction and does not need to prove good faith."
Finally the court said: "The instruction is appropriate even where the evidence might lead the jury to conclusions that would not benefit the defendant because refusing the charge withdraws the point from the jury’s consideration and a jury should be given the opportunity to resolve all questions of fact."
See also Carl Lietz & Paul Kish, Federal Criminal Lawyer Blog, Kottwitz: Eleventh Circuit Holds Trial Court Should Have Given Good Faith Defense Jury Instruction