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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 30379
Experience:  Criminal Justice Degree, JD with Criminal Law Concentration. Worked for the DA and U.S. Attorney.
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Can a federal district judge in a bench trial allow post conviction,

Customer Question

Can a federal district judge in a bench trial allow post conviction, pre-sentencing testimony to clarify key issues in a criminal case as they can in a civil case?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 5 years ago.

My name is Lucy and I'd be happy to answer your questions today.

Any facts that the judge bases his sentence on must be proven, beyond a reasonable doubt, to be true. U.S. v. Booker, 543 U.S. 200 (2005). See also Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466 (2000); Blakely v. Washington, 542 U.S. 296 (2004). So, while a judge has discretion to allow post-conviction, presentencing testimony, it has to be presented to the jury, just like every other fact in the case. The jury then has to decide whether they believe the facts to be true, and the judge can only base his opinion on that testimony if the jury finds the testimony to be true.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

the case is a federal bench trial, not a jury trial

i need to know what precedent allows the defense to ask the judge to accept additional testimony from a key witness

Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 5 years ago.
The language in all three of those cases clearly indicates that a judge may accept testimony from witnesses after conviction and before sentencing - note that the issue in those cases was not whether the judge erred in allowing the evidence at all, but whether it had to be presented to the jury or proven beyond a reasonable doubt. The fact that those are cases involving a jury trial, not a bench trial, is a distinction without a difference. What's relevant is that the finder of fact must find any facts related to sentencing to be true beyond a reasonable doubt.

If you're looking for case law that says that a judge may not accept any evidence during the sentencing phase, unfortunately, I don't believe there is any controlling case law out there, and I wouldn't be able to assist you with that. The type of in-depth research that you're looking for is, unfortunately, beyond the scope of this site.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
what i am looking for is in a motion for a new trial or acquittal in a bench trial, post conviction- pre sentencing, what precedent allows a federal judge to reopen testimony for the defense to clarify key issues. It is not for sentencing, but for a new trial or acquittal. I see in civil cases, federal judges can allow followup testimony after he or she rules on the case. I can't find the same rule for criminal cases with a bench trial.
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 5 years ago.
Thank you for clarifying.

Unfortunately, I'm not going to have time to do that research for you, so I'll open this up to the other experts. Good luck and have a good weekend.