789 F.3d 733 (7th Cir. 2015), 13-3726, United States v. Shields

Docket Nº:13-3726
Citation:789 F.3d 733
Opinion Judge:Ripple, Circuit Judge.
Party Name:UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. ERNEST D. SHIELDS, Defendant-Appellant
Attorney:For United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee: Kenneth Yeadon, Attorney, Office of The United States Attorney, Chicago, IL. For Ernest D. Shields, Defendant - Appellant: Craig M. Sandberg, Attorney, Muslin & Sandberg, Chicago, IL.
Judge Panel:Before RIPPLE, KANNE, and SYKES, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:June 15, 2015
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

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789 F.3d 733 (7th Cir. 2015)



ERNEST D. SHIELDS, Defendant-Appellant

No. 13-3726

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

June 15, 2015

Argued October 29, 2014.

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Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 1:11-cr-00440-1 -- Rubé n Castillo, Chief Judge.

For United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee: Kenneth Yeadon, Attorney, Office of The United States Attorney, Chicago, IL.

For Ernest D. Shields, Defendant - Appellant: Craig M. Sandberg, Attorney, Muslin & Sandberg, Chicago, IL.

Before RIPPLE, KANNE, and SYKES, Circuit Judges.


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Ripple, Circuit Judge.

Ernest D. Shields was arrested following a brief police chase and charged with possession of a firearm by a felon, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § § 922(g)(1) and 924(e)(1). Prior to trial, Mr. Shields filed, and the district court denied, a motion to suppress the evidence obtained at the time of his arrest as well as a motion to dismiss the indictment on the ground that § 922(g)(1) violated the Constitution of the United States. At a hearing three days before trial, Mr. Shields requested a continuance to allow him to file two past-due reply briefs and to arrange for two additional witnesses. The court denied these requests. After trial, a jury found Mr. Shields guilty, and the district court imposed the fifteen-year mandatory minimum sentence.

Mr. Shields now appeals, setting forth six claims of error. Because the district court correctly decided each controverted issue, we affirm its judgment.




At approximately 8:00 p.m. on January 10, 2011, Officers Craig Coglianese and David Bachler of the Chicago Police Department were on patrol in an unmarked police vehicle. The officers observed Mr. Shields's parked SUV partially blocking a crosswalk, in violation of Chicago Municipal Code § 9-64-110(c). The officers stopped their vehicle parallel to Mr. Shields's SUV.

Officer Coglianese exited his vehicle, approached Mr. Shields, who was sitting in the driver's seat of his SUV, and asked for his driver's license. After handing Officer

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Coglianese his driver's license, Mr. Shields voluntarily exited the SUV and, at the officer's request, walked toward the rear of the vehicle with Officer Coglianese. During this time, Officer Bachler had exited the driver's seat of the police vehicle and had walked around to its front.

When Mr. Shields reached the rear of the vehicle, he did not stop to talk to the police officers, but instead fled east down an adjacent street. Officer Coglianese gave chase to Mr. Shields. When Mr. Shields turned left down an alley, the officer followed and saw Mr. Shields pull a firearm out of his right coat pocket. Shortly thereafter, Officer Coglianese caught up to Mr. Shields and pushed him to the ground. Officer Bachler arrived in the police vehicle after one or two minutes, and the officers placed Mr. Shields in handcuffs. The officers rolled Mr. Shields over and discovered a loaded six-shot .22-caliber revolver on the ground. It was the same firearm that Officer Coglianese had observed Mr. Shields remove from his pocket.

The officers placed Mr. Shields in the back of their police vehicle, and Officer Coglianese read Mr. Shields his Miranda rights. Thereafter, Officer Coglianese asked Mr. Shields, " Why are you running with a gun?" 1 Mr. Shields responded, " I shouldn't have had that weapon on me." 2 At the police station, Officer Coglianese gave Mr. Shields a ticket for blocking the crosswalk. Mr. Shields then was taken to the hospital for treatment for a cut over his left eye that he sustained during the arrest.


On June 22, 2011, a grand jury indicted Mr. Shields for possession of a firearm by a felon, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § § 922(g) and 924(e)(1). The indictment thus listed both the substantive crime and sentencing provision under the Armed Career Criminal Act. In due course, Mr. Shields filed a motion to suppress the firearm and his statements following his arrest. In that motion, he maintained that the traffic stop was illegal, that the police had conducted an illegal search, and that his statement to the police was involuntary. At an evidentiary hearing on this motion, Officers Coglianese and Bachler testified about their encounter with Mr. Shields. Corey Flournoy, an acquaintance of Mr. Shields who was parked down the street at the time, also testified.

Following the hearing, the district court denied the motion. The court first determined that the officers acted within the bounds of the Fourth Amendment in conducting the traffic stop because they had probable cause to believe that Mr. Shields had committed a traffic offense by blocking the crosswalk. Rejecting Mr. Shields's contention that the officers illegally searched him after pulling him from his vehicle, the court found that Mr. Shields had presented " absolutely no evidence that" he was pulled out of the car by the officers.3 The court went on to note that Mr. Shields's flight provided the officers with probable cause to arrest him for knowingly resisting or obstructing the performance of a police officer in violation of 720 ILCS 5/31-1(a).4 With regard to the discovery of the firearm, the court determined

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that " [t]he uncontroverted evidence from the suppression hearing establishe[d] that the officers found the gun in plain view after Shields was legally arrested following a traffic stop that was reasonable in duration." 5 Finally, the court concluded that Mr. Shields did not establish that his statements following his arrest were involuntary.

Mr. Shields filed a motion for reconsideration or, in the alternative, a request that the court reopen the suppression hearing to allow Mr. Shields to testify. The next day, Mr. Shields filed a motion to dismiss the indictment on the ground that the statute violated the Second Amendment of the Constitution. The Government filed its responses to Mr. Shields's motions on March 8, 2013. Mr. Shields did not file a reply for either motion by the March 15, 2013, deadline.

At a subsequent hearing, Mr. Shields asked for a continuance of the trial so that he could have more time to file his replies. He stated that he needed more time because his counsel was involved in a separate trial that was " pushed into an inconvenient spot" and because he was trying to arrange for two witnesses.6 The court denied the request, stating that it was too late to ask for more time to file the replies and that it was too close to trial to grant a continuance. The court specifically noted that Mr. Shields had not filed a request for an extension of the reply deadline and that it was only three business days from trial.

Mr. Shields then filed a motion to dismiss the indictment on the ground that federal jurisdiction could not be established beyond a reasonable doubt. He maintained that the Government could not establish the requisite interstate commerce nexus. The district court denied the motion.

The jury trial commenced on March 25, 2013, and lasted three days. On the second day of trial, Mr. Shields stipulated that he had " been at some time before January 10, 2011 convicted of a felony punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year." 7 The Government offered no additional evidence at trial of Mr. Shields's prior convictions.

The district court instructed the jury that " the government must prove...three...elements beyond a reasonable doubt: No. 1, the defendant knowingly possessed a firearm. No. 2, at the time of the charged act, the defendant was a felon. And, No. 3, the firearm had been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce." 8 The jury found Mr. Shields guilty of possession of a firearm by a felon.


The presentence report (" PSR" ) calculated that Mr. Shields had a total offense level of 33 and a criminal history category of VI, resulting in a guidelines range of 235 to 293 months' imprisonment. It also noted that Mr. Shields had three prior violent felony convictions and therefore was subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of fifteen years under the Armed Career Criminal Act (" ACCA" ), 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(1).

At the sentencing hearing, Mr. Shields, appearing pro se,9 objected to the PSR on

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several grounds. He first stated that two of his convictions did not qualify for the ACCA enhancement. Second, Mr. Shields argued that his mandatory minimum sentence violated Alleyne v. United States, 133 S.Ct. 2151, 186 L.Ed.2d 314 (2013), because his three prior felony convictions were not submitted to the jury. Finally, Mr. Shields argued that he received a letter that indicated that his civil rights were restored and that, consequently, the underlying offense could not serve as the basis of a sentencing increase.10 The district court rejected all of Mr. Shields's arguments and sentenced him to the fifteen-year mandatory minimum, followed by a five-year term of supervised release.

Mr. Shields now appeals his conviction and his sentence. He makes six claims.11 We will address each in turn.



A. Failure to Prove Prior Convictions

Mr. Shields contends that, in accordance with recent Supreme Court precedent, his three prior convictions had to be proved to the jury. He also maintains that the criminal process against him was flawed from the beginning because the indictment recited not only the substantive crime of felon in possession of a firearm, under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1), but also the statutory sentencing enhancement for three prior felony convictions under 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(1). In his view, the recitation of this latter provision obligated the Government to prove before the jury not only the substantive offense of conviction...

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