TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Wesley Snipes Seeks Supreme Court Review of His Tax Convictions

Snipes Wesley Snipes, who is serving his three-year sentence on three counts of willful failure to file tax returns under § 7203, filed a cert. petition with the U.S. Supreme Court raising these two issues:

  1. Is an accused person deprived of the right under Article III and the Sixth Amendment to be tried only by a jury of the community where venue is proper, when factual questions determinative of whether venue has been correctly laid are determined solely by a jury selected in the place challenged by the defendant as incorrect?
  2. Where venue is a contested factual issue in a criminal trial, does the government bear a burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt or only by a preponderance of the evidence?

Celebrity Tax Lore, Tax | Permalink

TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Wesley Snipes Seeks Supreme Court Review of His Tax Convictions:

» Wesley Snipes tries last futile gesture from Roth & Company, P.C.
Already serving time for tax charges, Wesley Snipes has appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, reports the TaxProf. The chances... [Read More]

Tracked on Mar 3, 2011 6:06:38 AM


Petition denied.

As to the first question, Snipes apparently believes the Constitution entitled him to a trial by jury on the venue issue as a prerequisite to another trial on the merits before a second jury in a venue approved by the first jury. Wrong.

As to the second question, see the first question and suggested answer. And since when is venue an element of a criminal offense that must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt? Nice try, Snipes, but no cigar.

Posted by: Jake | Mar 2, 2011 6:23:21 PM

“[S]ince when is venue an element of a criminal offense that must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt?”

I don’t know, Jake, when was the 6th amendment ratified?

Seriously, though when venue is in dispute, it is an essential element of the crime that must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, and the accused has a right to an appropriate jury instruction on that issue. (U.S. v. Massa, 686 F.2d 526, 530-531.).
However, the issue is regarded as more akin to jurisdiction than a substantive element of the crime, but when in dispute must nevertheless be submitted to the jury with appropriate instructions. (Ibid.)

The procedural rule Snipes advocates does not seem practical, though. Agree, cert. den.

Posted by: StephenG | Mar 3, 2011 6:53:51 PM