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United States v. Conversano

decided: July 15, 1969.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
LAWRENCE J. CONVERSANO AND WILLIAM P. KEOHAN. LAWRENCE J. CONVERSANO, APPELLANT



Kalodner, Ganey and Seitz, Circuit Judges.

Author: Ganey

Opinion OF THE COURT

GANEY, Circuit Judge.

Defendant, Lawrence J. Conversano, and William Patrick Keohan were charged in a single two-count indictment with transferring and having in their possession and concealing counterfeited obligations of the United States, with intent to defraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 472 and 473. Keohan plead guilty to both charges while defendant plead not guilty. At his trial, defendant raised the defense of entrapment, took the stand and called Keohan, a co-defendant, as a witness. On the testimony presented by Secret Service Agent Kenneth E. Balge, the only witness called by the prosecution, the jury found defendant guilty on both counts, and the court, after denying post-trial motions, imposed concurrent sentences.

Although the Government has not raised the question, we must determine whether written notice of appeal was timely filed in this case in accordance with the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. The jury brought in its verdict on Tuesday, October 11, 1967. On the same day in open court, defendant's counsel applied for and was immediately granted, in lieu of the 7-day period provided for in Rule 33 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, a three-week period of time in which to file motions for judgment of acquittal and for a new trial. Interpreting the three-week period to mean 21 days, we conclude that it began on Wednesday, October 12, and ended with Wednesday, November 1, which was not a legal holiday. By letter dated November 2, one day after the three-week period, defendant's counsel requested an additional two weeks within which to file the post-trial motions. He was notified by telephone on November 6 from the trial judge's chambers that his request was granted. On November 15, defendant filed his motion for a new trial. The motion was based on grounds other than newly discovered evidence, one of them being "The Court erred in denying Defendant's Motion for a directed verdict in acquittal."

In open court on March 19, 1968, immediately after he was sentenced, defendant was allowed to post an appearance bond in the amount of $5,000 pending an appeal.*fn1 The notation of the sentences was entered in the criminal docket two days later on Thursday, March 21. On April 1, by a written order, the district court denied defendant's motion for a new trial. The following day, April 2, the order was entered and defendant filed his notice of appeal in the district court. The notice provided:

"The defendant was found guilty of the above offenses [Selling, transfering and delivering of counterfeited obligations of the United States; possession and concealing counterfeited obligations of the United States with intent to defraud.] and was sentenced to two four-year terms of imprisonment; said terms to run concurrently.

"I, the above named appellant, hereby appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of New Jersey from the above stated judgment."*fn2

This notice of appeal was filed one day too late.

Rule 37(a) (2) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, effective at the time defendant filed his notice of appeal, provided in pertinent part:

"(2) Time for Taking Appeal. The notice of appeal by a defendant shall be filed within 10 days after the entry of the judgment or order appealed from. A notice of appeal filed after the announcement of a decision, sentence or order but before entry of the judgment or order shall be treated as filed after such entry and on the day thereof. If a timely motion in arrest of judgment or for a new trial on any ground other than newly discovered evidence has been made, an appeal from a judgment of conviction may be taken within 10 days after the entry of the order denying the motion * * *. A judgment or order is entered within the meaning of this paragraph when it is entered in the criminal docket * * *." (Italics supplied.)*fn3

"It is well settled that 'the filing of a notice of appeal within the 10-day period prescribed by Rule 37(a) (2) is mandatory and jurisdictional.' United States v. Robinson, 361 U.S. 220, 224, 80 S. Ct. 282, 285, 4 L. Ed. 2d 259 (1960); Berman v. United States, 378 U.S. 530, 84 S. Ct. 1895, 12 L. Ed. 2d 1012 (1964)." United States v. Temple, 372 F.2d 795, 797 (C.A. 4, 1966), cert. denied 386 U.S. 961, 87 S. Ct. 1024, 18 L. Ed. 2d 110. Also see United States v. Scarlata, 214 F.2d 807 (C.A. 3, 1954); 5 Orfield, Crim.Proc. Under Fed.Rules § 37.12.

Using the date of entry of the order denying the motion for a new trial, which was April 2, as the starting point, the filing of the notice of appeal was in time if the motion was timely filed. We think it was not. Rule 33 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, in pertinent part, provides:

"The court on motion of a defendant may grant a new trial if required in the interest of justice * * *. A motion for a new trial based on the ground of newly discovered evidence may be made only before or within two years after final judgment, but if an appeal is pending the court may grant the motion only on remand of the case. A motion for a new trial based on any other grounds shall be made within 7 days after ...


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