NACDL - McFadden v. United States

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

Documents

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).

Argument

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.

Author(s)

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.