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United States v. Hardin – Case Brief Summary (Federal Court)

In United States v. Hardin, 139 F.3d 813 (11th Cir.), cert. denied, 525 U.S. 898 (1998), a felon-in-possession case, Hardin and the government entered into a written stipulation that he had a prior conviction. Neither party filed the stipulation with the clerk before trial.

Defense counsel told prospective jurors about Hardin's status, the district court mentioned this status during the preliminary jury instructions, the prosecutor, without objection, told the jurors that the felon status was not an issue, and defense counsel acknowledged this during her opening statement. 139 F.3d at 814.

The prosecution "did not read, publish or otherwise offer the stipulation into evidence," and Hardin's felon status did not come up again until a brief reference during the government's summation. Id.

On appeal from his conviction, Hardin maintained that the government's failure to offer the stipulation into evidence undermined his conviction.

The Eleventh Circuit disagreed and concluded:

In holding that Hardin's stipulation eliminated the government's burden to produce evidence of his felon status, we in no way imply that failing to offer a stipulation into evidence is wise trial practice. It is fair to assume that, in this case, the government had every intention of offering the stipulation for admission as evidence. . . . . Hardin, however, has no legal or equitable basis to contest the government's mistake. He received his benefit of the bargain-prejudicial information about his prior conviction never entered into the jury's deliberations. Id. at 817.