Eberhart v. United States

Eberhart v. United States

Supreme Court of the United States

October 31, 2005, Decided

No. 04-9949


 [*13] Per Curiam.

LEdHN[1A][] [1A] LEdHN[2A][] [2A] [**403]  HN1[] Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 33(a) allows a district court to "vacate any judgment and grant a new trial if the interest of justice so requires." But "[a]ny motion for a new trial grounded on any reason other than newly discovered evidence must be filed within 7 days after the verdict or finding of guilty, or within such further time as the court sets during the 7-day period." Rule 33(b)(2). This deadline is rigid.   [***17]  The Rules provide that courts "may not extend the time to take any action under [Rule 33], except as stated" in Rule 33 itself.  Rule 45(b)(2). The Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has construed Rule 33's time limitations as "jurisdictional," permitting [****2]  the Government to raise noncompliance with those limitations for the first time on appeal.  388 F.3d 1043, 1049 (2004).  However, there is "a critical difference between a rule governing subject-matter jurisdiction and an inflexible claim-processing rule."  Kontrick v. Ryan, 540 U.S. 443, 456, 124 S. Ct. 906, 157 L. Ed. 2d 867 (2004). HN2[] Rule 33 is an example of the latter. We grant the petition for certiorari and the motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis, and [**404]  reverse the judgment of the Seventh Circuit.

LEdHN[1B][] [1B] Petitioner Ivan Eberhart was convicted of one count of conspiring to distribute cocaine.  On the last day available for post-trial motions, he moved for judgment of acquittal or, in the alternative, for a new trial. That motion raised a single ground for relief--an alleged flaw in a transcript that had been published to the jury. Nearly six months later, petitioner filed a "supplemental memorandum" supporting his motion. Two additional grounds appeared in that filing--admission of potential hearsay testimony into evidence, and the District Court's failure to give a so-called "buyer-seller instruction" to the jury.  388 F.3d at 1047-1048. Rather than arguing,  [****3]  however, that the untimeliness of the supplemental memorandum barred the District Court from  [*14]  considering the issues it raised, the Government opposed it on the merits.

The District Court granted the motion for a new trial, citing all three grounds raised by petitioner. The judge concluded that "'none of these concerns standing alone or in pairing would cause me to grant a new trial,'" but that taken together, they "'persuade me that the interests of justice require a new trial.'"  Id., at 1048. The judge also predicted that "'a new trial will quite likely lead to another conviction.'" Ibid.

Read The Full CaseNot a Lexis Advance subscriber? Try it out for free.

Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.

546 U.S. 12 *; 126 S. Ct. 403 **; 163 L. Ed. 2d 14 ***; 2005 U.S. LEXIS 8201 ****; 74 U.S.L.W. 3271; 18 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 565



 United States v. Eberhart, 388 F.3d 1043, 2004 U.S. App. LEXIS 22445 (7th Cir. Ill., 2004)

Disposition: The judgment of the Seventh Circuit was reversed, and the case was remanded for further proceedings.

district court, new trial, court of appeals, claim-processing, limitations, subject-matter, forfeited, untimely, untimeliness, courts, merits, cases, mandatory, motions

Criminal Law & Procedure, Postconviction Proceedings, Motions for New Trial, Reviewability, Preservation for Review, General Overview