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United States v. Martin

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
189 F.3d 547 (1999)


Facts

Henry Martin (defendant) was on trial for a bank robbery. Before Martin’s trial, he claimed he could not afford an attorney because he was indigent and requested a free attorney be appointed to him. As a defense to the charge of bank robbery during trial, however, Martin claimed that he was financially secure and therefore had no motive to rob the bank. During Martin’s testimony about his financial security, the trial judge asked questions to clarify Martin’s inconsistencies about his financial situation. Following Martin’s testimony, the judge instructed the jury that they should make no inference from the judge’s questioning of Martin. The judge also posed questions of other witnesses, including those of the prosecution. The judge claimed that he was questioning the witness to protect the integrity of the program that provided free attorneys for indigent defendants. Martin appealed his conviction, claiming that the judge’s questioning of him unfairly prejudiced the jury.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Manion, J.)

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