Expert Article Library

Case Name: U.S. v. Susan Wintermute (http://www.ca8.uscourts.gov/opndir/06/04/044083P.pdf)

Court: United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit; on appeal from the District Court for the Western District of Missouri

Date: April 11, 2006

Expert: Finance. Paul Schott, former chief counsel for Office of Comptroller of the Currency

Issue: Was the information omitted by defendant on application to purchase a bank “material”?

Summary of case: The defendant Susan Wintermute was convicted on charges that included making a materially false statement to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) on an application for the purchase of a bank. The bank engaged in suspect transactions with a financing company and later failed. Defendant did not disclose her role in the financing company on the application to the OCC.

Role of the expert: The defendant’s expert witness was to testify that the OCC would have made the same decision even if she had provided all the correct information on her application. Thus her alleged misrepresentation was not material. The trial court did not allow the expert testimony.

Expert analysis: Defendant argued that the expert testimony was important to her defense to show that her statement was not material and the district court abused its discretion by excluding it.

The Eighth Circuit agreed. It was not relevant because the government only had to show that the information omitted by defendant might have influenced the application decision, not that it would have. The testimony would have confused the jury more than it would have helped, the Court held.

Summary prepared by K. Tanner, Student, University of California, Hastings College of Law