Wednesday, January 24th, 2007

Proof of Defendant’s Predisposition (to Rebut Entrapment Defense) Is Not Same as Proof that Defendant Had the Requisite Intent / Mens Rea

United States v. Taylor, Docket No. 05-6764-cr (2d Cir. Jan. 23, 2007) (Calabresi, Wesley, Rakoff) (per curiam): The Court affirms Taylor’s sentence, rejecting his claim that remand for resentencing was required because the district judge denied him acceptance-of-responsibility credit on the basis of an erroneous legal ruling that Taylor’s assertion of an entrapment defense at trial was equivalent to a denial of criminal intent to commit the underlying crime. (NB: Darrell Fields of this Office litigated the case on appeal). The Panel affirms the sentence by skirting the ultimate legal question — i.e., whether assertion of an entrapment defense precludes the possibility of acceptance credit under U.S.S.G. § 3E1.1, a question on which the Circuits have split, see Op. 7-8 — in favor of a somewhat dubious finding that the district court actually denied acceptance credit on the basis of other, undeniably proper considerations. Op. 5.

Nonetheless, the Panel clarifies that assertion of an entrapment defense is not at all equivalent to a denial of criminal intent. Specifically, the Government’s proof that a defendant was predisposed to commit the crime is not the same as proof that he had the requisite mens rea (though the same evidence may be used to establish both predisposition and mens rea). Op. 7; see id. (“It bears emphasizing that no matter how intertwined intent and predisposition may be, they remain separate concepts.”). Rather, “[p]redisposition focuses on the source of the criminal intent: whether the government placed the criminal intent in the defendant.” Op. 7 (emphasis added).

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