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United States V. Scott Civil Case Involving Coercion and Duress

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Title and Citation:

United States v. Scott, 901 F.2d 871, (1990)

Type of Action:

Civil case involving coercion and duress

Facts of the Case:

Bill Lee Scott was found guilty by a jury and convicted of one count of conspiring to manufacture methamphetamine and one count of manufacturing methamphetamine. Scott appealed his convictions and claimed that he was denied a fair trial when the district court did not make it known that his defense was coercion; Meaning Scott claimed he threatened by a man by the name of Mark Morrow to do as he said and continue to buy ingredients for the methamphetamine. Scott claimed that he feared for his life due to threats Morrow constantly made.

Contentions of the Parties:

Bill Lee Scott held that he was denied a fair trial. He wanted the jury to be aware of his defense in which he claimed he was being threatened by Morrow.

While the district court held that there was not enough proof of coercion, due to this the jury did not have to be notified of Scott’s defense.

Issue: Did the district court deny Scott a fair trial because they failed to notify the jury of his defense of coercion?

Decision: The Court found that Scott failed to prove that he was truly being threatened and ruled in favor of the district court.

Rationale: The court sided with the district court because they felt that he had very little contact with Morrow, giving him countless times to alert authorities or seek help.

Rule of Law: A coercion or duress defense requires proof that there was an immediate threat of death or serious bodily injury, a well-grounded fear that the threat will be carried out and that there was no reasonable opportunity to escape the threatened harm. Otherwise the defense of coercion is invalid.

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