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United States v. Richter

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

April 2, 2015

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
PAUL JOSEPH RICHTER, Defendant-Appellant

Argued and Submitted February 6, 2015 Seattle, Washington

Page 499

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Montana. D.C. No.9:13-cr-00023-DWM-1. Donald W. Molloy, Senior District Judge, Presiding.

AFFIRMED.

SUMMARY[**]

Criminal Law

Affirming a conviction for felon in possession of a firearm, the panel held that waiver of the right to give a closing argument may be implicit and inferred from counsel's conduct, so long as there was a meaningful opportunity to request argument and the trial judge does nothing to prevent counsel from giving a closing argument.

The panel held that the defendant implicitly waived his right to give a closing argument in this case, and that the evidence presented at trial was sufficient to support the conviction.

Michael Donahoe, Esquire (argued), Assistant Federal Public Defender, Federal Defenders of Montana, Helena Branch Office, Helena, Montana, for Defendant-Appellant.

Paulette L. Stewart, Esquire (argued), Office of the United States Attorney, Helena, Montana, for Plaintiff-Appellee.

Before: Carlos T. Bea and Mary H. Murguia, Circuit Judges, and William Orrick, District Judge. [*]

OPINION

Page 500

ORRICK, District Judge.

Paul Joseph Richter appeals his conviction for felon in possession of a firearm that was rendered by the district court following a bench trial. He contends that there was insufficient evidence that he possessed the firearm and that the district court erred by failing to call for closing arguments from the parties before rendering its guilty verdict. We have jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1291. Because there was sufficient evidence to support Richter's conviction and since he implicitly waived his right to give a closing argument, we affirm his conviction.

Facts and Procedural History

Richter was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm. The superseding information, issued on August 30, 2013, reads as follows:

That on or about and between August 15, 2012, and continuing until October 20, 2012, in Missoula and Ravalli Counties, in the State and District of Montana, the defendant, PAUL JOSEPH RICHTER, having been convicted on December 18, 2007, of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year under the laws of the State of Montana, knowingly and unlawfully possessed, in and affecting interstate commerce, a firearm, ...

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