Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1793178
 


 



Avoiding Not-So-Harmless Errors: The Appropriate Standards for Appellate Review of Willful-Blindness Jury Instructions


Justin C. From


Iowa Law Review

March 23, 2011

Iowa Law Review, Vol. 97, 2011

Abstract:     
From fairly inconspicuous beginnings, the willful-blindness doctrine has proliferated throughout federal courts. Federal prosecutors currently request willful-blindness jury instructions even when the evidence does not warrant their use, and trial judges frequently grant these requests over defense objections that inappropriate willful-blindness instructions confuse jurors and relieve prosecutors of their burden of proof with respect to the defendant’s mental state. One of the primary reasons federal courts misuse willful-blindness instructions is that the circuits are split over the appropriate guidelines for the appellate review of willful-blindness instructions. To curb misuse of willful-blindness instructions, appellate courts should use the abuse-of-discretion standard to review a trial court’s decision to give a willful-blindness instruction, use the de novo standard to review the accuracy of the wording of a willful-blindness instruction, and delineate instances where the inappropriate use of willful-blindness instructions is not harmless error, especially in contexts such as white-collar criminal prosecutions.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 45

Keywords: willful, blindness, wilful, conscious, avoidance, deliberate, ignorance, ostrich, jewell, instruction, standard of review, harmless error, de novo, abuse of discretion, white collar, Enron, Skilling, harmless, per se, crime, criminal, law, appeal, circuit split, litigation

Accepted Paper Series





Download This Paper

Date posted: March 25, 2011 ; Last revised: July 25, 2011

Suggested Citation

From, Justin C., Avoiding Not-So-Harmless Errors: The Appropriate Standards for Appellate Review of Willful-Blindness Jury Instructions (March 23, 2011). Iowa Law Review, Vol. 97, 2011. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1793178

Contact Information

Justin C. From (Contact Author)
Iowa Law Review ( email )
Melrose and Byington
Iowa City, IA 52242
United States
Feedback to SSRN


Paper statistics
Abstract Views: 581
Downloads: 136
Download Rank: 126,543

© 2014 Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.  FAQ   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy   Copyright   Contact Us
This page was processed by apollo5 in 0.281 seconds