Brief for Amicus Curiae National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in Support of Petitioner (on Petition for Writ of Certiorari).
Argument: The Court should grant certiorari to confirm that instructional error as to a contested element is never harmless. The Constitution prohibits judges from directing a verdict on a contested element of a criminal offense. The circuits are split over whether overwhelming evidence can render harmless the omission of a contested element, and the issue is a recurring one. This case presents an ideal vehicle to resolve the lower court confusion over the harmless error test applicable to instructional errors.
Brief of Amici Curiae of Associations of Criminal Defense Attorneys in Support of Petitioner (on Petition for Writ of Certiorari) (California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, New York Council of Defense Lawyers, and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers).
Argument: This Court should grant review to clarify when harmless error will justify denial of the right to a jury determination on a contested essential element.