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February 09, 2009 

Professor Convicted of Violating Export Control Laws Requests New Trial

The Knoxville News Sentinel reported today that convicted University of Tennessee Professor J. Reece Roth, who was found guilty of violating the Arms Export Control Act in September 2008, has filed a motion requesting a new trial on grounds that the judge hearing the case refused to allow jurors to consider the "ignorance of the law" defense.

The article quotes that motion as stating:

"The evidence showed that (Roth) had a fundamental misunderstanding of the Arms Export Control Act and its regulatory scheme." * * * "(Roth's) belief although mistaken that he understood the law was used by the government to show (Roth) disregarded the law. Had the jury been instructed on the ignorance of the law (defense), the jury would have likely returned a verdict of not guilty."

The Assistant U.S. Attorneys handling the case countered the defendant's argument by noting that the "majority view (of courts weighing in on the issue) is that a willful violation occurs where a defendant knows his or her conduct violates the law."

Roth's sentencing hearing, which was originally set for January 7, 2009, is now scheduled for February 18th.

[February 10, 2009 Update: A loyal and well informed reader advised that Roth's defense team filed the Rule 29 Motion for Acquittal and new trial several months ago, but the story was just picked by the Knoxville News Sentinel. It also appears that Roth's sentencing will be postponed until March.]

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