United States District Court, D. Maine
ORDER ON MOTION IN LIMINE REGARDING PRIOR
A. WOODCOCK, JR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
trial scheduled to begin on June 14, 2017, the Government
moves in limine to preclude Steven Lemieux from admitting any
evidence pertaining to a collateral attack on his underlying
conviction for false statements on a firearms form or his
previous conviction for misdemeanor assault.
Gov't's Mot. in Lim. Regarding Prior
Conviction (ECF No. 44) (Gov't's Mot.).
Lemieux is charged in a two-count indictment for possession
of firearms and ammunition by a person who has been
previously convicted of at least one crime punishable by
imprisonment for a term exceeding one year.
Indictment (ECF No. 2). The predicate offense for
these charges is a 2006 conviction in this Court in which Mr.
Lemieux was convicted of violating 18 U.S.C. § 922(a)(6)
for lying on a firearms form when he denied that he was
barred from possessing firearms even though he had been
previously convicted of domestic assault by the state of
Maine. Id. at 1; Gov't's Mot. at 1.
December 14, 2016, Fairfield Police officers executing a
search warrant at Mr. Lemieux's residence discovered six
firearms and 784 rounds of ammunition. Gov't's
Mot. at 1. When presented with the inventory of the
search, Mr. Lemieux commented on his belief that the officers
were stealing the firearms and later made a claim on the same
firearms when the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and
Explosives (ATF) initiated forfeiture proceedings.
Id. When ATF Special Agent John Schroepfer came to
Mr. Lemieux's residence on March 9, 2017 to discuss the
claim, Mr. Lemieux acknowledged being jailed for his prior
conviction, professed that he had never done anything wrong,
and referred to his prior conviction as "f-ing bulls-t
too." Id. at 1-2.
to the Government, the places of manufacture of the subject
firearms are not disputed and Mr. Lemieux has not denied his
possession of the firearms or the fact of his prior
conviction. Id. at 2. The Government therefore
anticipates that Mr. Lemieux's defense will be related to
his professed innocence on any underlying offense, which it
argues is not a valid defense. Id.
Lemieux responded to the Government's motion in limine on
June 11, 2017. Def.'s Resp. to Gov't's Mot.
in Lim.: Collateral Attack on Underlying Felony
Conviction (ECF No. 53) (Def.'s Opp'n).
In his response, Mr. Lemieux stated that he "denies he
'did anything wrong' and therefore denies the
underlying conviction as charged and/or that he is a
prohibited person." Id. at 1. He explains that
he "does not intend to maintain a legal attack on the
validity of the underlying conviction" and states that
he will "take the position that he has 'done nothing
order to prove a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1), the
Government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr.
Lemieux has been convicted in any court of at least one crime
punishable by a term of imprisonment for a term exceeding one
year. See 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). The Government
seeks to do so by introducing evidence of Mr. Lemieux's
2006 conviction for false statements on a firearms form and
is concerned that Mr. Lemieux will attempt to collaterally
attack this prior conviction by making statements concerning
his innocence of the conduct underlying the offense. However,
as Mr. Lemieux acknowledges in his response, he cannot do so.
Lewis v. United States, 445 U.S. 55 (1980), the
United States Supreme Court expressly held that "a
convicted felon may challenge the validity of a prior
conviction, or otherwise remove his disability, before
obtaining a firearm" but that "firearms prosecution
does not open the predicate conviction to a new form of
collateral attack." Id. at
67. Additionally, the First Circuit,
relying on Lewis, has held that the later vacating
of a state court conviction does not invalidate a
defendant's federal conviction as a felon in possession
of a firearm under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) because the
defendant was a felon at the time of the charged possession.
United States v. Snyder, 235 F.3d 42, 53 (1st Cir.
Lewis and Snyder, as well as Mr.
Lemieux's lack of objection and confirmation that he may
not collaterally attack the legal validity of the underlying
conviction, the Court GRANTS the Government's Motion in
Limine Regarding Prior Conviction (ECF No. 44). Consistent
with his concession, the Court prohibits defense counsel from
inquiring into whether there was an adequate underlying
factual basis for Mr. Lemieux's prior conviction. See
Def.'s Opp'n at 2.