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United States v. Carter

United States District Court, District of Maine

July 8, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
WAYNE CARTER, Defendant.

DEFENDANT WAYNE CARTER REPRESENTED BY J. HILARY BILLINGS FEDERAL DEFENDER'S OFFICE

PLAINTIFF USA REPRESENTED BY DARCIE N. MCELWEE, JONATHAN R. CHAPMAN, KIMBERLY-KAY O. KOWALSKI U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE DISTRICT OF MAINE

ORDER ON RENEWED MOTION TO DISMISS

George Z. Singal United States District Judge

On August 26, 2011, Defendant Wayne Carter conditionally pleaded guilty to a one-count indictment of possession of a firearm following a prior conviction of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(9) & 924(a). Carter appealed his conviction to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, arguing that an offense with a mens rea of recklessness cannot serve as a predicate misdemeanor crime of domestic violence under § 922(g)(9). The First Circuit vacated Carter’s conviction and remanded the case for further consideration in light of the Supreme Court’s recent opinion in United States v. Castleman, 134 S.Ct. 1405 (2014). Accordingly, before the Court is Defendant Wayne Carter’s Renewed Motion to Dismiss the Indictment (ECF No. 91) (“Motion to Dismiss”). For the reasons explained below, the Court GRANTS the Motion to Dismiss.

I. BACKGROUND

On April 1, 1997, Carter was charged with a violation of Maine’s general purpose assault statute, 17-A M.R.S.A. § 207. The Information read: “That on or about the 24th day of February, 1997, the City/Town of Warren, County of Knox, State of Maine, Wayne Carter did intentionally, knowingly or recklessly cause bodily injury or offensive physical contact to Angie Eagan.”[1](Information For Violation Of 17-A M.R.S.A. § 207 ASSAULT – Class D (ECF No. 19-1; 31-1).) On that same date, Carter pleaded guilty. The state court docket reveals that the Court “ADJUDGED that the Defendant is guilty of Assault, Class D (17-A §207) as charged and convicted. Sentenced to Knox County Jail for 30 days.” (Docket Sheet (ECF No. 31-1) at Page ID # 54.)

Three years later, on March 20, 2010, Carter pawned a Riger, Mini-14 Ranch Rifle, .223 caliber rifle at the Waldoboro Trading Company in Waldoboro, Maine. (Prosecution Version (ECF No. 38) at 1.) On April 16, 2010, Carter attempted to redeem the pawned firearm but was ultimately unsuccessful. (Id.) On April 30, 2010, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Agents interviewed Carter at his home regarding his attempted retrieval of the rifle. During the interview, Carter recalled his prior conviction. (Id.)

On September 22, 2010, Carter was charged in a one-count indictment with the knowing possession of a firearm after a previous conviction of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(9) and 924(a). (Indictment (ECF No. 1).) On November 12, 2010, Carter moved to dismiss the indictment on the grounds that a conviction under Maine’s general purpose assault statute, 17-A M.R.S.A. § 207, should not qualify as a predicate offense for § 922(g)(9). (Mot. To Dismiss Indictment (ECF No. 19).) Specifically, Carter argued:

[A] conviction under the Maine assault statute, which allows for a conviction upon proof of ‘recklessness’ as an intent element, is not adequate as a prior conviction for violation of § 922(g)(9) because an adequate predicate ‘misdemeanor crime of domestic violence’ must involve an offense that requires a higher level of criminal intent than ‘recklessness’ to qualify as a crime of violence. (Id. at 4.)[2] The Court denied that Motion, stating that United States v. Booker, 644 F.3d 12 (1st Cir. 2011), “serves as binding and controlling precedent for the issues presented in Defendant’s Motion.” (ECF No. 35.)

On August 26, 2011, Carter conditionally pled guilty and reserved his right to appeal the Court’s Order on his motion to dismiss. He was sentenced to a prison term of twelve months and one day, and the execution of his sentence was stayed pending resolution of his appeal. Shortly thereafter, Carter appealed his conviction, arguing that commission of a simple assault by recklessly causing offensive physical contact cannot constitute a predicate offense for purposes of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(9).[3] On April 30, 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit vacated his conviction and remanded the motion to dismiss to this Court, stating:

[T]here may be some merit to [Carter’s] statutory argument in light of the Supreme Court’s recent decision in United States v. Castleman, __ U.S. __, 134 S.Ct. 1405 (2014). Finding that the record is insufficiently developed on this issue, we vacate Carter’s conviction and the district court’s denial of his original motion to dismiss the indictment, and we remand the case for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

United States v. Carter, 752 F.3d 8, 10 (1st Cir. 2014).

On remand from the First Circuit, Carter asserts that his previous conviction for simple assault was not a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence as that term is defined in 18 U.S.C.§ 921(a)(3) in light of United States v. Castleman, 134 S.Ct. 1405 ...


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