730 Fed.Appx. 281 (6th Cir. 2017), 17-5228, United States v. Bates

Docket Nº:17-5228
Citation:730 Fed.Appx. 281
Opinion Judge:JANE B. STRANCH, Circuit Judge.
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Petitioner-Appellee, v. Robert BATES, Defendant-Appellant.
Attorney:David Norfleet Pritchard, Office of the U.S. Attorney, Memphis, TN, for Plaintiff-Appellee Arthur E. Quinn, Law Offices, Memphis, TN, for Defendant-Appellant
Judge Panel:BEFORE: COLE, Chief Judge; McKEAGUE and STRANCH, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:November 20, 2017
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
 
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Page 281

730 Fed.Appx. 281 (6th Cir. 2017)

UNITED STATES of America, Petitioner-Appellee,

v.

Robert BATES, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 17-5228

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

November 20, 2017

UNPUBLISHED

Editorial Note:

Please Refer Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure Rule 32.1. See also U.S.Ct. of App. 6th Cir. Rule 32.1.

ON APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF TENNESSEE

David Norfleet Pritchard, Office of the U.S. Attorney, Memphis, TN, for Plaintiff-Appellee

Arthur E. Quinn, Law Offices, Memphis, TN, for Defendant-Appellant

BEFORE: COLE, Chief Judge; McKEAGUE and STRANCH, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

JANE B. STRANCH, Circuit Judge.

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Robert Bates was convicted by a jury of being a felon in possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g) and received a 24-month prison sentence. Bates now appeals, arguing that the evidence introduced at trial was insufficient in fact and in law to support the jury verdict that he had previously been convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year, as required by § 922(g)(1). For the following reasons, we AFFIRM Bates’s conviction.

I. BACKGROUND

On March 17, 2016, Robert Bates was indicted on eight counts of possessing a firearm after having been convicted of a felony, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g). Ten years earlier, Bates pled guilty to the Arizona offense of disorderly conduct with a weapon, a non-dangerous, non-repetitive, non-designated offense, in violation of Ariz. Rev. Stat. § § 13-2904(A)(6), 13-701, and 13-801. He was sentenced to 150 days of incarceration and a period of probation. Following a probation violation, Bates’s sentence was extended by 30 days, resulting in a 180-day jail sentence. The order also designated the offense as a Class 6 Felony.

Bates moved to dismiss the federal indictment in the instant case on the ground that his prior Arizona conviction could not serve as the basis for his § 922(g) charge because it was not for an offense punishable by a term exceeding one year of incarceration. Adopting the report and recommendation of the magistrate judge over Bates’s objections, the district court denied the motion, and the case proceeded to trial. At trial, the Government called Virlynn Tinnell, the Mohave County, Arizona Clerk of Superior Court, to testify about Bates’s prior conviction. Ms. Tinnell testified on direct examination that Bates had pled guilty to disorderly conduct with a weapon and that the offense was later designated as a Class 6 Felony. When asked if this offense is punishable by a term of imprisonment exceeding one year, Ms. Tinnell answered: "Yes, it could be." On cross examination, she testified that the presumptive term was one year, but that it could be increased to up to two years. On redirect, Ms. Tinnell clarified that the offense is punishable by a term of imprisonment exceeding one year, and that it can go up to two years.

At the close of the Government’s case, Bates moved for judgment of acquittal, which the court denied. Bates renewed his motion at the close of all evidence, which was also denied. Bates was convicted by a jury on all eight counts. In his post-conviction motion for judgment of acquittal, Bates again argued that his Arizona conviction was not punishable by a term exceeding one year of incarceration, and that there was insufficient evidence supporting the jury’s verdict on that element. The motion was denied. The court then sentenced Bates to two years in prison. On appeal, Bates argues that the evidence introduced at his trial was insufficient in fact and in law to support the jury verdict that he had previously been convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year, as required by § 922(g).

II. ANALYSIS

A. Standard of Review

We review de novo a district court’s denial of a motion for judgment of acquittal. See, e.g.,

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United States v. Stewart, 729 F.3d 517, 526 (6th Cir. 2013); United States v. Mabry, 518 F.3d 442, 447 (6th Cir. 2008). In so doing, we view the evidence in the light most favorable to the Government and ask whether it is sufficient to permit a rational trier of fact to find the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. See United States v. Barnes, 822 F.3d 914, 919 (6th Cir. 2016). We will reverse "only if the judgment is not supported by substantial and competent evidence upon the record as a whole." Stewart, 729 F.3d at 526 (quoting United States v. Wettstain, 618 F.3d 577, 583 (6th Cir. 2010)). "To the extent that the question turns on statutory interpretation, rather than on the sufficiency of the evidence, we review the issue de novo." United States v. Mackey, 265 F.3d 457, 460 (6th Cir. 2001); see also United States v. Wright, 774 F.3d 1085, 1088 (6th Cir. 2014). Bates both challenges the sufficiency of the evidence introduced at trial and raises issues of statutory interpretation.

B...

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