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United States v. Nobel

December 17, 1982

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
HARVEY NOBEL, APPELLANT



APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA (D.C. Criminal No. 81-00367-02).

Aldisert, Rosenn and Sloviter, Circuit Judges. Rosenn, Circuit Judge, concurring.

Author: Sloviter

Opinion OF THE COURT

SLOVITER, Circuit Judge.

Defendant Harvey Nobel appeals from the judgment of conviction entered after a jury found him guilty on fourteen counts of a fifteen-count indictment charging violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2314 (interstate transportation of a security taken by fraud). Nobel contends that the judgment of the district court should be reversed and the case remanded for a new trial because the trial judge failed to disqualify himself as required under 28 U.S.C. § 455 and the trial judge's tone of voice in addressing Nobel during the course of his testimony improperly communicated to the jury the judge's view that Nobel was guilty. We will affirm.

I.

The Recusal Issue

The indictment charged that Nobel, the owner of Beaverbrook Motors, a New Jersey towing service, and Christine Gilch, an employee of Insurance Company of North America [INA], devised a scheme to defraud INA pursuant to which INA paid Nobel's company approximately $476,000 for nonexistent towing services. Gilch pled guilty. Nobel pled not guilty and his five-day jury trial began March 15, 1982.

On that day, shortly before the beginning of trial, the following colloquy occurred in the chambers of the district court:

THE COURT: Counsel will recall a conference on the 18th of December, 1981, at 8:30 A.M., and I related that I am a substantial holder of INA stock.

INA is not a party; nor is it the subject matter.

I related that I didn't believe it was a basis for recusal.

Now, when we had this conference neither Mr. Casper [Gilch's attorney] nor Mr. Nasuti [Nobel's attorney] were yet retained and my notes reflect that Mr. Casper anticipated no problem, and if, as I believe, there is not basis for recusal, would you, if you are so disposed, so relate.

MR. NASUTI: Me, Your Honor?

THE COURT: Yes.

MR. NASUTI: Yes, Your ...


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