Brief filed: 05/16/2023
United States v. Ravenell
4th Circuit Court of Appeals; Case No. 22-4369
On appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, NACDL’s Amicus Brief is in Support of a Petition for Rehearing En Banc. Issue: The issue raised is the court’s refusal to instruct on a statute of limitations defense, which seriously impaired Ravenell’s ability to present his defense, resulted in the denial of the constitutional right to have a jury decide if the government has proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the prosecution does not violate the statute of limitations. The panel found the district court need not instruct the jury on a statute of limitations defense timely raised by the defendant. NACDL argues that the panel majority failed to protect the rights of the accused and undermined the fundamental protections of our criminal justice system when it concluded that a district court need not instruct a jury on a statute-of-limitations defense and also improperly substituted its own evaluation of the trial evidence for that of the jury. If the panel majority’s decision, which conflicts with Supreme Court and Fourth Circuit precedent, is not corrected it will adversely affect criminal defendants in the future and undermine the fair administration of justice in criminal cases within the Circuit: the denial of the constitutional right to have a jury decide if the government has proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the prosecution does not violate the statute of limitations.
Laurence S. Shtasel, Blank Rome LLP, Philadelphia, PA; David B. Smith, NACDL, Alexandria, VA.