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United States v. Mitchell

decided: June 18, 1970.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
RICHARD MITCHELL, APPELLANT



Seitz and Aldisert, Circuit Judges, and Higginbotham, District Judge.

Author: Per Curiam

Opinion OF THE COURT

Appellant, a dealer in used cars, was charged under 18 U.S.C. ยง 2313 with receiving a stolen motor vehicle known by him to have been stolen. The case was tried non-jury to the District Court for Western Pennsylvania and appellant was adjudged guilty, fined $500.00, and sentenced to one year and one day imprisonment. On appeal, he contends that (1) he did not voluntarily, intelligently, and knowingly waive a trial by jury, and (2) the presumption of knowledge that the automobile was stolen -- based on possession of the recently stolen car -- constitutes a violation of Fifth Amendment rights. We find no merit in either contention.

When this case was called for trial, appellant executed a non-jury waiver form which was submitted to and accepted by the district judge. The "Waiver of Jury Trial," also signed by appellant's privately retained counsel,*fn1 and consented to by the United States Attorney,*fn2 recited:

I, (defendant), having been fully informed of my Constitutional right to a trial by jury in the above-stated case, do hereby waive said right and consent to be tried without a jury by the United States Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

The following colloquy then occurred:

THE COURT: All right, proceed non-jury. Waiver has been signed and all that?

THE CLERK: Right here.

THE COURT: It is here. That's Mr. Mitchell [defendant] back of you, it is, Mr. Grippo [counsel]?

MR. GRIPPO: Correct, Your Honor.

THE COURT: And you have signed this waiver now, have you, to proceed non-jury?

(Defendant nods)

MR. GRIPPO: Yes, he has.

THE COURT: Is that ...


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