Here we go again, another federal criminal case which on appeal goes to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit here in Atlanta, and that court rejects the Defendant because the specific argument was not brought up in the trial court. We have written about this issue many times, the need for lawyers to anticipate issues and, more importantly, the need to “object” or ” preserve” that issue. An opinion issued yesterday in the Eleventh Circuit reminds me about this whole area, in which the appellate court basically kicks the Defendant out of court because a good issue she raised on appeal was never mentioned during the trial itself. The case is United States v. Leon, and can be accessed here.
Ms. Leon was charged with a series of crimes arising out of an “investment” offering. Apparently, she was was the assistant for the head of the investment company. At his direction, she made a series of cash withdrawals from the company bank account, all in amounts below $10,000. However, on several days she made multiple withdrawals, and the aggregate amount of cash removed from the bank on those days exceeded $10,000.
Many readers of our little blog know about the rule that requires financial institutions (as well as lawyers) to file a “CTR” if they engage in any financial transaction involving more than $10,000 in cash for a person or institution in a single day. There are loads of different statutes in this area. In Ms. Leon’s case, the prosecutors charged her with the specific sub-section of a statute that makes it a crime to cause (or attempt to cause) a financial institution to NOT file the CTR. A separate sub-section of that same statute involves the crime of “structuring”, which is the very similar but slightly different crime of breaking up transactions into increments below $10,000 with the goal of avoiding the filing of the CTR. I know, they sound incredibly similar, but they are in fact different.