United States v. Haischer

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Law
  • Date Filed: 03-25-2015
  • Case #: 13-10392
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Clifton for the Court; Circuit Judges McKeown and Tashima
  • Full Text Opinion

A defendant in a criminal prosecution is not required to admit guilt as a precondition to raising an affirmative defense.

Heidi Haischer was indicted on one count of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with an alleged scheme to obtain mortgages using false information and documents. Haischer was a loan officer, and her boyfriend, Kelly Nunes, was a senior loan officer employed at the same brokerage firm. Nunes allegedly orchestrated the scheme and paid a third party to provide fraudulent documents in support of the loan applications. After making a few payments, Haischer’s loans went into default resulting in foreclosure of the properties. Haischer allegedthat she deferred to Nunes’s judgment as her boyfriend and senior loan officer. Additionally, Haischer alleged Nunes abused her and the abuse led her to sign one of the loan applications while under duress. The district court excluded all evidence of the alleged abuse, and instructued the jury was not to consider the abuse defense. Haischer was convicted on both counts. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit held that a defendant in a criminal prosecution is not required to admit guilt as a precondition to raising an affirmative defense, such as duress. The panel found that the government has not proved the error was harmless, and to ensure that there is no violation of Haischer’s due process rights, the verdict must be remanded to consider the evidence of abuse. VACATED and REMANDED.

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