Friday, February 08, 2019

Duress Instruction Not Warranted Where Theft Motivated Allegedly by Fear of Stepfather

U.S. v. Dixon, 17-7010, 15cr0084 RAW, 2018 WL 4039125 (Aug. 24, 2018) (E.D. Okla.): Ms. Dixon was charged with embezzlement and theft from an Indian tribal organization under 18 U.S.C. ยง 1163. Prior to trial, Ms. Dixon filed a notice of the defense of duress, on the theory that she faced an imminent threat of sexual assault from her stepfather and that her posttraumatic stress disorder caused her to believe that she could not escape the assault except through theft. Ms. Dixon requested Tenth Circuit Pattern Jury Instruction No. 1.36 and filed a written proffer of the expert testimony in support of her duress defense. The trial court rejected the defense, and the jury convicted Ms. Dixon. On appeal, the Tenth Circuit held that Ms. Dixon failed to establish the second element of the duress defense by failing to show that she had no reasonable, legal alternative to violating the law.