RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: Chelsea, Michigan
DOCKET NO.: 86-6109
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1988-1990)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
CITATION: 485 US 58 (1988)
ARGUED: Dec 02, 1987
DECIDED: Feb 24, 1988
Charles A. Rothfeld - on behalf of the Respondent
Franklyn M. Gimbel - on behalf of the Petitioner
Facts of the case
Media for Mathews v. United StatesAudio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 02, 1987 in Mathews v. United States
Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - February 24, 1988 in Mathews v. United States
William H. Rehnquist:
The fourth of these cases is No. 86-6109, Mathews against the United of States.
Petitioner Frederick Mathews was an employee of the Small Business Administration.
One of the presidents and one of the companies participating in one of the SPA programs believed that Mathews was attempting to obtain loans and exchange for SPA benefit.
He was ultimately convicted in the District Court in Milwaukee but in the course of his trial he sought an instruction on entrapment that which is in the affirmative defense trying to show that the government got into this thing in the first place, and the trial judge refused the instruction.
The Court of Appeals affirmed that judgment, and we granted certiorari to resolve a conflict among the circuits as to whether a defendant may deny committing the offense charge, which Mathews did deny here and still getting an instruction on entrapment.
As explained in an opinion filed today, we conclude that even if a defendant denied one or more elements of the offense, he is entitled to an entrapment instruction, whenever there was efficient evidence from which a reasonable jury could find entrapment.
We reject the government's argument it is because the affirmative defense of entrapment, which assumed the commission of all the elements of the offense is inconsistent with the position that the defendant did not commit those elements.
The defendant may not rely on both defences simultaneously.
As a general preposition, the defendant is entitled to any legally sufficient defense reported by the evidence, and this rule has been traditionally applied even when the defense is they are inconsistent.
So, the judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit is reversed.
Justice Brennan joins in this opinion has filed the concurring opinion; Justice Scalia has filed in the opinion concurring in the judgment; Justice White has filed a dissenting opinion in which Blackmun has joined.
Justice Kenendy took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.