In U.S. v. Byrd, No. 04-12188 (March 25, 2005), the Court (Carnes, Hull, Wilson), affirmed convictions for armed bank robbery, use of a firearm during the commission of a bank robbery, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2113(a), (d), 924(c) & 922(g).
The Court held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it refused to allow the defendant to testify after the close of the government’s rebuttal case, and the defendant voluntarily waived his right to testify in his defense (but later changed his mind and wanted to testify. The Court agreed with other Circuits to have considered the issue, and noted that "reasonable rules" must govern trial proceedings. The Court recognized that Byrd asked to testify before closing arguments, and that his testimony was of "inherent significance." However, allowing Byrd to testify could have prejudiced the prosecution, because he should not have been able to take the stand and "say whatever he wanted to without much fear of anybody being around to rebut it." Moreover, having heard the rebuttal witnesses, Byrd could manufacture explanations, "smoothing over to some extent the discrepancies between the testimony of his alibi witnesses and the government’s rebuttal witness."
Finally, the only explanation Byrd gave was that he changed his mind. This was not a valid reason for not testifying at the proper time.
The Court summarily rejected Byrd’s challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence, noting, among other things: "The robber took $4,680 from the bank, and the police found $4,650 in a box under Byrd’s bed."