Position of Unlawfully Issued Birth Certificate
In United States v. White, 290 U.S. App. D.C. 269, 936 F.2d 1326, 1329 (D.C. Cir. 1991), the defendant was tried based upon a two-count indictment. In Count I, the defendant was alleged to have been in possession of an unlawfully issued birth certificate with the intent to defraud the government. Id. at 1327. In Count II, the defendant was alleged to have made false statements on a U.S. passport application. Id.
At trial, the court instructed the jury as to the essential elements of each count as follows:
(1) as to Count I, the jury had to find that the defendant was in possession of an unlawfully issued identification document, acted willfully, and intended to defraud the United States with use of the document;
(2) as to Count II, the jury had to find that the defendant provided false information in his passport application, acted willfully, and intended to secure issuance of the passport. Id.
The jury acquitted the defendant on Count I, but was unable to reach a verdict on Count II. Id. the trial court declared a mistrial and dismissed the case as to Count II. Id.
The government reindicted the defendant for the same crime in Count II of the first indictment. Id. the defendant moved for dismissal based upon double jeopardy and collateral estoppel arguments which the trial court rejected. Id.
The defendant then appealed. Id. Based upon the acquittal in Count I, the defendant argued that the jury found that the defendant did not act "wilfully," a requirement necessary to prove both counts. Id. However, the court held that it would have been illogical for the jury to have found that he did not act wilfully and then acquit him of only Count I. Id. at 1329.
Thus, the court concluded that the jury must have based the acquittal upon the failure of the government to prove another of the essential elements of Count I; therefore, relitigation under the second indictment was allowed. Id;
See also United States v. Watts, 519 U.S. 148, 156, 117 S. Ct. 633, 637, 136 L. Ed. 2d 554 (per curiam), quoting United States v. Putra, 78 F.3d 1386, 1394 (9th Cir. 1996) (Wallace, J., dissenting) (holding that "an acquittal is not a finding of fact. An acquittal can only be an acknowledgment that the government failed to prove an essential element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Without specific jury findings, no one can logically or realistically draw any factual finding inferences....").