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United States v. Beam

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA


November 5, 2010

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
TROY A. BEAM, DEFENDANT

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Christopher C. Conner United States District Judge

(Judge Conner)

ORDER

AND NOW, this 5th day of November, 2010, upon consideration of the motion (Doc. 48) filed by defendant Troy A. Beam ("Beam"), wherein Beam requests that the court order the government to refrain from appealing to the prejudice, emotion, or pecuniary interest of the jury during the trial, and it appearing that Beam argues that the court should prohibit the phrases "tax protestor" and "tax defier" as improper statements,*fn1 and that the court should direct the government to refrain from referring to such current events as the "war on terror" and the events of September 11, 2001 in order to appeal to the juror's emotions, and that the court should disallow argument intended to appeal to the juror's pecuniary interests, and it further appearing that the government argues that the phrases "tax protestor" and "tax defier" should be permissible, but that the government disavows any intention of making improper patriotic or pecuniary appeals to the jurors,*fn2 it is hereby ORDERED that the motion (Doc. 48) is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part as follows:

1. The motion (Doc. 48) is GRANTED insofar as it seeks to prohibit the government from appealing to the jurors' feelings of patriotism through specific references to the "war on terrorism" or the events of September 11, 2001. See United States v. Cotter, 425 F.2d 450, 452-53 (1st Cir. 1970) ("There is a difference between reminding jurors that the payment of taxes is essential to the conduct of government, and selecting some single matter especially provocative of emotion.").

2. The motion (Doc. 48) is GRANTED insofar as it seeks to prohibit the government from appealing to the pecuniary interests of the jurors through references to their taxes. See United States v. Palma, 473 F.3d 899, 902 (8th Cir. 2007) ("Remarks invoking the individual pecuniary interest of jurors as taxpayers are universally viewed as improper."); see also United States v. Smyth, 556 F.2d 1179, 1185 (5th Cir. 1977) (characterizing the statement "that's your tax money being kicked in here" as a "highly improper appeal to the passion and prejudices of the juror").

3. The motion (Doc. 48) is DENIED in all other respects.


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