Appellate & Post-Trial Litigation Blog

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Respecting The Record: A Cautionary Tale

Today, the Seventh Circuit issued a scorching opinion in the criminal appeal of United States v. Witkemper. The case concerned a small business owner who failed to withhold federal payroll taxes from his employees’ wages. In a bench trial, the district court found him guilty of not paying the taxes. The Seventh Circuit quickly dispensed with the merits, which it deemed "open and shut," and delved into the conduct of appellate counsel. Authoring Judge Michael Scudder did not mince words. In his two appellate arguments, counsel ignored the unfavorable facts by acting "as if the bench trial never happened." The Court further criticized counsel's other missteps and took the rare step of ordering him to show cause why he should not be disbarred from the Seventh Circuit.

The decision can be read here.

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