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Use by Defense Counsel
- When creatively designed, special findings requests can ensure that the trial judgefully understands the defense position. Schinasi at 121.Virtually all trial judges agree that special findings help clarify those determinations… Schinasi at 88 (citing United States v. Johnson , 496 F.2d 1131 (5th Cir. 1974)).
- If there is any inkling that the judge is laboring under any misapprehension of law orfact…special findings may reveal that misapprehension, so the defense counsel can either resolve the issue at trial, or preserve it for appeal. Schinasi at 88. Convictions will be reversed for example, ifinconsistent special and general findings are returned. Schinasi at 95, citing United States v. Maybury , 274 F.2d 899 (2nd Cir. 1960).
- When the judge takes a contrary position to that requested by the defense, specialfindings flush-out the operative conclusions the judge has relied upon.Findings of fact in non-jury criminal cases primarily aid the defendant in preserving questions for appeal, and aid the appellate court in delineating the factual bases on which the trial court’s decisions rested. United States v Livingston , 459 F.2d 797, 798 (3rd. Cir.1972) (en banc).