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Advocacy group questions if jury instructions negatively affected the IRP6 case

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On Friday, a member of the advocacy group, “A Just Cause” sent the Paulding County Republican Examiner released statements and updates concerning the case of the African-American company (IRP Solutions Corporation) in Colorado that developed the Case Investigative Life Cycle (CILC) criminal investigations software for federal, state, and local law enforcement.

The IRP6, six Christian businessmen, Kendrick Barnes, Gary L. Walker, Demetrius K. Harper, Clinton A. Stewart, David A. Zirpolo, and David A. Banks were convicted in 2011 after being accused of mail and wire fraud and have been incarcerated for over 18 months in federal prison in Florence, Colorado while their case is under appeal.

The advocacy group, “A Just Cause” is questioning why the federal judge did not strengthen the jury instructions to clarify whether there was intent by the IRP6 to commit a crime and if jury instructions negatively affected the IRP6 case.

Court records show that the IRP6 challenged the proposed jury instructions but federal Judge, Christine Arguello, denied their challenge.

Records show that the IRP6 requested that the jury instructions include a definition of scheme to defraud and that the jury instructions would elaborate on the term “intent”.

Court transcripts show that David Banks, IRP Solutions COO, argued before the court regarding jury instructions and said, “I want to at least get on the record for the moment, Your Honor, … we presented our definition as far as ‘scheme to defraud’ was concerned. And we would ask that… Your Honor, that the standard definition that is a part of the mail fraud Instruction 4, under U.S.C. 1341(b), annotated as is in that statute.”

“And I guess we question… this looks like the government has made what looks like a substantial change to the way the statute currently reads,” Banks elaborated.

According to transcripts of the trial, Judge Arguello rejected the IPR6 request to provide clarification in the jury instructions regarding “intent”.

“The defendants' competing instruction on that included lengthy definitions of "specific intent to defraud” and “materiality”.

“The specific intent proposed by the defendants was an evil ambition to deceive or swindle or to deprive someone of something of value and to cause financial harm.” “And the Court found that definition to be confusing and an unnecessary substitute for the Tenth Circuit Pattern Instructions,” Judge Christine Arguello, Federal Judge, United States District Court for the District of Colorado said.

“The Tenth Circuit has observed that the term “specific intent” is often confusing, requiring further elaboration to clarify precisely what the accused must know and intend," added Arguello.”

Court records further show that Judge Arguello stated, “I also found it unnecessary to include the defendants' proffered instruction entitled "mistake, negligence and recklessness," because it contains overly broad statements of the law, and would be distracting to the jury.”

According to the court transcript, the IRP6 argued that it was important that the jury instructions elaborate on the subject of “intent." “…Obviously the underpinnings of our defense will be based on that specific intent," petitioned Banks. “And the reasons we engaged in the business we engaged in, the reason we engaged staffing companies in the first place, obviously is going to go to the core of the specific intent to defraud. We just don't think that the intent to defraud clearly annotates that specific intent of requirement.”

“So that would be our objection,” Banks objecting to the judges’ comments that further clarification of “intent” was “unnecessary”.

Court records show that Judge Arguello denied the request of the IRP6.

“Providing clarification is exactly what the IRP6 wanted to do,” asserts Sam Thurman of A Just Cause. “According to the transcript, it doesn’t appear that the Tenth Circuit prohibits using the term ‘specific intent’, it seems that they have stated that it requires further elaboration.”

“We question why IRP6’s request to ‘elaborate’ was rejected,” adds Thurman.

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) compiled a report for Congress on mail and wire fraud. The report included a section on elements of mail and wire fraud. The CRS report states, “Intent: Under both statutes (mail and wire), intent to defraud requires a willful act by the defendant with the intent to deceive or cheat, usually, but not necessarily, for the purpose of getting financial gain for one’s self or causing financial loss to another.

A defendant has a complete defense if he believes the (alleged) deceptive statements or promises to be true or otherwise acts in good faith. A defendant has no such defense, however, if he blinds himself to the truth. Nor is it a defense if he intends to deceive but feels his victim will ultimately profit or be unharmed.”

“According to the Congressional Research Service, an element of mail/wire fraud clearly calls out ‘intent’. The fact that the judge did not allow elaboration on this subject in the jury instructions is troubling and makes one wonder if the jury had been provided additional definitions and/or explanation, would they have returned a different verdict,” said Thurman.

“A Just Cause is troubled by cases like the IRP6 where there are several apparent irregularities,” Thurman said. “When we look at the compilation of findings in this case, it makes the organization push even harder for an inquiry or investigation into the initial investigation, the indictment and the trial of the IRP6.”

The case of IRP Solutions (IRP6) is currently under appeal in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado under the Honorable Christine M. Arguello, D. Ct. No. 1:09-CR-00266-CMA; Case Nos: NO. 11-1487, Case Nos. 11-1488, 11-1489, 11-1490, 11-1491 and 11-1492).

Appellate Court panel includes the Honorable Senior Judge Bobby R. Baldock, Honorable Judge Harris L. Hartz, and Honorable Judge Jerome A. Holmes.

Copies of the legal filings can be obtained here.

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