US v. Hatch, No. 06-1902. Okay, this is the appeal of that guy that won “Survivor” and didn’t pay taxes on his winnings. He was convicted of three counts of filing false tax returns, in violation of 26 U.S.C. §§ 7201 and 7206(1). He signed a contract which said that he would pay all taxes on his winning in this stupid show. He later made some other money by appearing on some pilots of even stupider TV shows.
Anyway, stepping back from the stupidity of popular culture, let’s take a look at the live issues.
He wanted to argue that the procedures of the show were cheating and feeding the contestants. The producers, he claims, in exchange for his silence on the issue, promised to pay his taxes and therefore under Cheek v. United States, 498 U.S. 192 (1991) he wasn’t willfully failing to pay his taxes. But, nobody actually testified to such a promise, and it doesn’t seem like he was actually prevented from offering such testimony, though the actual rulings that the District Court made in the heat of the trial seemed to come fast and furious during direct, so maybe someone misunderstand what doors were open to what testimony.
The First also says that the “expert” testimony of IRS agents was error. But the First says that they were really “fact” witnesses. The First says that objections were either waived or not plain error.
The District Court has precluded certain testimony from the defendant’s accountant, but these seem to be on relevance grounds.
On the other side, he argued that the District Court improperly imposed limits on his cross. The First bashes counsel by saying that some of the proposed questions were “incoherent.” The First also says that his cross-examination just wasn’t restricted.
And, for all the sentencing buffs out there: a perjury enhancement was proper, even though he was acquitted of a perjury count. The First says the issue (like the amount of loss) isn’t developed.