United States v. Richter

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Law
  • Date Filed: 04-02-2015
  • Case #: 14-30003
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: District Judge Orrick for the Court; Circuit Judges Bea and Murguia
  • Full Text Opinion

As long as a defendant has an opportunity to present a closing argument, counsel’s conduct can act as an implicit waiver of that right.

Paul Joseph Richter was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm during a bench trial. Richter appealed his conviction, arguing that witness testimonies provided insufficient evidence to show he possessed the firearm, and that the trial was conducted erroneously because he did not have the opportunity to present a closing argument. The district court held that in determining whether evidence is sufficient to support a conviction, “the evidence presented at trial [is viewed] in the light most favorable to the prosecution.” Then, “[t]he reviewing court must determine whether [the] evidence, so viewed, is adequate to allow any rational trier of fact to find the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.” The Ninth Circuit found that the district court’s verdict must be sustained because the evidence showed that Richter took the gun from his father’s house and subsequently admitted having it in his possession. The panel also determined that Richter did have the opportunity to present a closing argument, but his counsel’s conduct acted as an implicit waiver of that right. Richter’s counsel did not request the court to “‘state its specific findings of fact’” before the court’s decision is provided. Richter’s counsel did not request a closing argument after the 31-minute recess, where Richter’s counsel had the opportunity to “decide whether a closing argument might be helpful.” Since sufficient evidence was presented at trial, and Richter waived his right to present a closing argument, the panel affirmed Richter’s conviction. AFFIRMED.

Advanced Search