McFadden v. United States

Brief for Amicus Curiae National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in Support of Petitioner (on Petition for Writ of Certiorari).

Brief filed: 12/22/2016


McFadden v. United States

United States Supreme Court; Case No. 16-679

Prior Decision

Case below 823 F.3d 217 (4th Cir. May 19, 2016).


The Court should grant certiorari to confirm that instructional error as to a contested element is never harmless. The Constitution prohibits judges from directing a verdict on a contested element of a criminal offense. The circuits are split over whether overwhelming evidence can render harmless the omission of a contested element, and the issue is a recurring one. This case presents an ideal vehicle to resolve the lower court confusion over the harmless error test applicable to instructional errors.

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Howard Srebnick and Joshua Shore, Black, Srebnick, Kornspan & Stumpf, P.A., Miami, FL; Terrance G. Reed, Lankford & Reed, PLLC, Alexandria, VA; Barbara E. Bergman, James E. Rogers College of Law, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ.