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United States v. Walls

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

April 21, 2015

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
ALEXANDER WALLS, AKA Tip-Toe, Defendant-Appellant

Argued and Submitted February 3, 2015, Seattle, Washington

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington. D.C. No. 3:11-cr-05408-RJB-1. Robert J. Bryan, Senior District Judge, Presiding.

AFFIRMED.

Criminal Law

SUMMARY[*]

The panel affirmed convictions for sex-trafficking offenses in violation of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.

The panel held that when Congress used the language " in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce" in the TVPA, it intended to exercise its full powers under the Commerce Clause. Consistent with the outer limits of the commerce power defined in Gonzales v. Raich, 545 U.S. 1, 125 S.Ct. 2195, 162 L.Ed.2d 1 (2005), the panel held that any individual instance of conduct regulated by the TVPA need only have a de minimis effect on interstate commerce, and that the district court therefore did not err when it instructed the jury that " any act that crosses state lines is 'in' interstate commerce" and " an act or transaction that is economic in nature" and " affects the flow of money in the stream of commerce to any degree 'affects' interstate commerce." The panel rejected the defendant's argument that the jury instruction essentially directed a verdict on the element of interstate commerce.

Thomas Michael Kummerow, Seattle, Washington, argued the cause and filed the reply brief for the Defendant-Appellant. Suzanne Lee Elliott, Seattle, Washington, filed the opening brief for the Defendant-Appellant.

Teal Luthy Miller, Assistant United State Attorney, Seattle, Washington, argued the cause and, along with Ye-Ting Woo, filed the briefs for the United States.

Before: Raymond C. Fisher, Carlos T. Bea, and Mary H. Murguia, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 544

Carlos T. Bea, Circuit Judge.

Defendant-appellant Alexander Walls operated as a small-time pimp. The questions here are (1) whether, under the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution, Congress has the power to regulate his local pimping, and (2) whether Congress intended a ...


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