The Ninth Circuit blog points to United States v. Lawrence Cohen, __ F.3d __, 2007 WL 4485629 (9th Cir. Dec. 26, 2007). The defendant is one of those “crazy” tax protesters. Now, most of us refer to tax protesters as “crazy” in the sense that “they behave in a way that nobody I want to associate with behaves, and they have ideas that are so far outside my reality that I don’t take them seriously.” But, this guy is different. His lawyers actually think that he is crazy. A shrink writes a report which reads ““[h]is behavior is driven by a mental disorder as opposed to criminal motivation . . . Although it is true Mr. Cohen was not delusional or psychotic and was in possession of basic mental faculties, his will was in the service of irrational beliefs as a result of narcissistic personality disorder.” The Ninth says that this testimony could have helped the trier of fact, because the expert was proposing to testify that “...once Cohen adopted [Irwin] Schiff’s views, Cohen would not change his mind.... [and] a narcissistic personality disorder like Cohen’s can cause a person to continue to believe something to be true despite overwhelming evidence of its patent absurdity.” The Ninth expresses some hesitation about allowing in all of the proposed testimony, because some of it might really be invading the province of the jury to determine mens rea, but it says that weeding that stuff out is for the District Court.
Anyway, the guy did lots of things to annoy the District Judge. He was held in contempt (fifteen times), but the judge “failed to file contempt orders as required by Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 42(b).” The Ninth says the remedy for this is to remand, but “On remand, the district court may reinstate the contempt convictions and resentence him so long as it does not increase the individual punishments for any of the fifteen convictions.” It also mentions a mathematical error. The Ninth says, however, that the District Court’s procedure (of doubling the sanction for each time he did something contemptuous) doesn’t raise due process problems, because it happened immediately after the offense occurred, and sentencing him post-trial for some of the contempts does not run afoul of Taylor v. Hayes, 418 US 488 (1974). Each sentence was less than six months, so there was no jury-trial problem.
The post ends with this: