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USA v. Matthew Hale, 05-1922.  Mathew Hale, aka Pontificus Maximus, represents himself on appeal on his way to having his 40 year sentence affirmed.  He starts out with a sufficiency of evidence argument.  As the court stated, the hurdle on this argument is often “insurmountable.”  As a starting point the court concludes that Hale concedes that he intended to kill someone, just not Federal District Court Judge Lefkow.  Bad argument. 

More interesting are the 404(b) and prosecutorial misconduct arguments .  Specifically, the AUSA commented in closing argument that Matt Hale participated in the murders and shootings  by church member Ben Smith.  The court is perplexed by the government’s arguments on appeal and agree that the government’s closing argument is clearly improper.  However, the court concludes that Hale has a steep hill to climb and that Hale was not prejudiced by the remark.  Because trial counsel did not object to the remark at trial, the court uses the four part plain error standard to deny Hale relief. 

For more about attorney Michael J. Petro, visit