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United States v. Enick

United States District Court, D. Idaho

June 9, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
SAMUEL JAY ENICK, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          B. Lynn Winmill Chief Judge United States District Court

         INTRODUCTION

         Before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss. (Dkt. 18). The matter is fully briefed and the Court finds that the decisional process would not be aided by oral argument. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will grant the Motion to Dismiss.

         BACKGROUND

         Samuel Jay Enick has been charged with one count of unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(9) and one count of criminal forfeiture under 18 U.S.C. § 924(d) and 28 U.S.C. § 2461(c) (Dkt. 1). The indictment alleges that Enick unlawfully possessed firearms and ammunition despite having been previously convicted of a violent misdemeanor involving domestic violence which disqualified him from such ownership. His prior conviction was a misdemeanor assault charge under Spokane Municipal Code (“SMC”) Section 10.11.010 (Dkt. 18). The Government asserts that the assault misdemeanor is the type of crime which operates as a predicate offense under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(9). Enick contends that it does not.

         ANALYSIS

         Section 922(g)(9) provides that it is unlawful for any person “who has been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence . . . [to] possess in or affecting commerce, any firearm or ammunition[.]” 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(9) (2012). A “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence” is defined as,

an offense that - (i) is a misdemeanor under Federal, State or Tribal law; and (ii) has, as an element, the use or attempted use of physical force, or threatened use of a deadly weapon, committed by a current or former spouse, parent, or guardian of the victim, by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabiting with or has cohabited with the victim as a spouse, parent, or guardian, or by a person similarly situated to a spouse, parent, or guardian of the victim.

18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(33)(A) (2012). Therefore, to qualify as a predicate offense a “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence” must have, “as an element, the use or attempted use of physical force, or threatened use of a deadly weapon.” U.S. v. Hayes, 555 U.S. 415, 421 (2009). In addition, the Supreme Court has held that § 922(g)(9)'s “physical force” requirement is satisfied “by the degree of force that supports a common-law battery conviction.” U.S. v. Castleman, 134 S.Ct. 1405, 1413 (2014).

         The question here is whether Enick's prior conviction under SMC § 10.11.010 qualifies as a predicate offense under § 922(g)(9). Enick argues that, because SMC § 10.11.010 is a local law and not a “Federal, State, or Tribal law, ” SMC § 10.11.010 cannot be a predicate offense under § 922(g)(9). (Dkts. 18, 26). Enick also contends that neither the categorical approach nor the modified categorical approach qualify his prior conviction as a predicate offense because SMC § 10.11.010 is overbroad and indivisible. (Dkts. 18, 26).

         1. Municipal Ordinance Conviction as Predicate Offense

          The Court finds that a municipal ordinance does not fit within the definition of a “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.” Rather, it appears that Congress purposefully excluded local law from that definition. Specifically, a “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence” only includes “an offense that - (i) is a misdemeanor under Federal, State or Tribal law[.]” 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(33)(A).

         A. Concurrent Jurisdiction

         Although the Government originally argued to the contrary, the parties now agree that the defendant can be convicted in any court for § 922(g)(9) to apply. The Court concurs. Thus, § 922(g)(9) may apply where a defendant is convicted in Spokane Municipal Court as Enick was here. However, that conviction in municipal court must be a misdemeanor under “Federal, State, or Tribal law.” Under the plain language of § 921 and § ...


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