U.S. v. Guzman, Docket No. 08-5561-cr.

CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Second Circuit
Writing for the CourtWesley
Citation591 F.3d 83
PartiesUNITED STATES of America, Appellant, v. Jesus Manuel GUZMAN, Defendant-Appellee. United States of America, Appellant, v. David Hall, Defendant-Appellee.
Decision Date07 January 2010
Docket NumberDocket No. 08-5561-cr.,Docket No. 08-6004-cr.
591 F.3d 83
UNITED STATES of America, Appellant,
v.
Jesus Manuel GUZMAN, Defendant-Appellee.
United States of America, Appellant,
v.
David Hall, Defendant-Appellee.
Docket No. 08-5561-cr.
Docket No. 08-6004-cr.
United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit.
Argued: September 14, 2009.
Decided: January 7, 2010.
Amended: January 8, 2010.

[591 F.3d 85]

Brenda K. Sannes, Assistant United States Attorney, for Andrew T. Baxter, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of New York, Syracuse, N.Y. (Lisa M. Fletcher, Assistant United States Attorney, of counsel), for Appellant United States of America.

James P. Egan, Assistant Federal Public Defender, for Alexander Bunin, Federal Public Defender for the Northern District of New York, Syracuse, NY, (Lisa A. Peebles, First Assistant Federal Public Defender, Melissa A. Tuohey, Assistant Federal Public Defender, of counsel), for Defendants-Appellees Jesus Manuel Guzman and David Hall.

Before MINER, STRAUB, and WESLEY, Circuit Judges.

WESLEY, Circuit Judge:


The government appeals from orders of the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York (Hurd, J.)

591 F.3d 86

dismissing the respective indictments of Appellees Jesus Manuel Guzman and David Hall ("Appellees") pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 2250(a) for traveling in interstate commerce and failing to register and update their sex offender registrations as required by the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act ("SORNA" or "Act"). Although it rejected all of Appellees' other challenges to SORNA, the district court held that the underlying registration requirements of 42 U.S.C. § 16913 exceed the authority of Congress to regulate interstate commerce. United States v. Hall, 577 F.Supp.2d 610, 623 (N.D.N.Y.2008); United States v. Guzman, 582 F.Supp.2d 305, 312 (N.D.N.Y.2008); United States v. Hall, 588 F.Supp.2d 326, 329 (N.D.N.Y. 2008) (denying reconsideration). We consolidate these cases solely for the purposes of this appeal. We agree with the district court that Appellees' other arguments in support of dismissal lack merit. However, we disagree with the district court's holding that 42 U.S.C. § 16913 exceeds congressional power pursuant to the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution and therefore reverse the rulings of the district court and reinstate the indictments.

Background
Hall

On April 3, 2008, the government filed a criminal complaint against David Hall alleging that he traveled in interstate commerce and knowingly failed to register and update his registration as a sex offender under 18 U.S.C. § 2250(a).1 According to the complaint, Hall pleaded guilty to Sexual Misconduct in violation of N.Y. Penal Law § 130.20 on May 25, 2006, and was sentenced to one year of incarceration. The sentencing judge designated Hall a Level 3 sex offender, meaning that he was required to register as a sex offender with New York and keep that registration up to date. An affidavit that accompanied the April 3, 2008 criminal complaint states that, although Hall initially registered as required, an annual registration verification form sent by New York to his registered address in June 2007 was returned by the United States Post Office. According to the affidavit, Hall's whereabouts remained unknown to New York until February or March 2008, when Hall applied for benefits and informed the Cayuga County Department of Health and Human Services that he had been in Charlottesville, Virginia until moving back to Auburn, New York with his girlfriend on February 22, 2008. The affidavit further states that Virginia officials confirmed that Hall did not register as a sex offender in Virginia. A federal grand jury indicted Hall under 18 U.S.C. § 2250(a) on April 9, 2008.

Hall moved to dismiss the indictment on the grounds that SORNA: (1) does not apply in his case because neither New York nor Virginia have implemented the terms of SORNA as required by 42 U.S.C. § 16912, and the United States Attorney General did not make SORNA retroactive; (2) violates the Ex Post Facto and Due Process Clauses as applied to him because it has not been implemented by New York or Virginia; (3) exceeds Congress's power under the Commerce Clause; (3) encroaches

591 F.3d 87

on powers reserved to the states by the Tenth Amendment; and (4) violates the congressional non-delegation doctrine.

On September 23, 2008, the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York dismissed the indictment. Hall, 577 F.Supp.2d at 623. The district court rejected Hall's argument that non-implementation of SORNA by New York and Virginia precludes prosecution because, contrary to the defendants' assertions, the Attorney General has specified that SORNA applies to sex offenses predating its enactment regardless of whether SORNA has been implemented by the relevant jurisdictions. Id. at 614-15 (citing 28 C.F.R. § 72.3 and 72 Fed.Reg. 30,228 (May 30, 2007)). The district court also concluded that Hall's ex post facto challenge was misplaced because § 2250 punishes knowing failure to register when moving between states and does not impermissibly increase the punishment for his underlying sex offense conviction. Id. at 615-16.

The district court was equally unconvinced by Hall's argument that requiring him to register violated his due process rights because it was impossible for him to have registered under SORNA when the relevant states have not yet implemented the statute's registration requirements. The court reasoned that, regardless of state implementation, Hall "could have fulfilled his obligation to register as a sex offender under SORNA by providing the [existing] Virginia and New York sex offender registries with the required information upon changing his residence." Id. at 616.

The district court rejected Hall's Tenth Amendment argument because Hall could not show that either New York or Virginia made any changes to their laws in order to comply with SORNA. Id. at 616-17. Because the states did not take the actions required by SORNA, the district court reasoned, their officials were not unconstitutionally commandeered into implementing federal law. Id. at 617. The district court further concluded that Congress had not impermissibly delegated its legislative authority to the Attorney General by enacting SORNA because the Act provided the Attorney General with an "intelligible principle" to follow by granting only the "limited authority to determine the retroactive application of SORNA's registration requirements to individuals convicted of sex offenses prior to SORNA's enactment." Id. at 617-18.

The district court nevertheless dismissed the indictment. It determined that Congress overstepped its authority to regulate interstate commerce in enacting SORNA. Id. at 622. Although the district court held that § 2250(a)—which criminalizes travel in interstate commerce without updating one's registration under SORNA—does not run afoul of the Commerce Clause under United States v. Lopez, 514 U.S. 549, 115 S.Ct. 1624, 131 L.Ed.2d 626 (1995), or United States v. Morrison, 529 U.S. 598, 120 S.Ct. 1740, 146 L.Ed.2d 658 (2000), see Hall, at 577 F.Supp.2d at 619, it concluded that the underlying SORNA registration requirement, 42 U.S.C. § 16913, is unconstitutional because "it lacks a jurisdictional element restricting its application to individuals who travel in interstate commerce." Hall, 577 F.Supp.2d at 620. Because § 16913 requires registration when changing address, employment, or student status, without regard to state lines, the district court determined that the section was sustainable only if it regulated an activity substantially affecting interstate commerce. The court held it does not. Id. at 621-22. The district court then rejected the government's attempt to justify § 16913 via Congress's spending power,

591 F.3d 88

reasoning that SORNA's registration requirements were not predicated upon any action being taken by a state. Id. at 622. The district court dismissed the indictment because a conviction under § 2250 would necessarily rely on the registration requirement that it had determined was unconstitutional.

Guzman

On October 2, 2008, the government filed a superseding indictment in the Northern District of New York alleging that "[f]rom in or about May, 2007 through in or about April, 2008" defendant Jose Manuel Guzman traveled in interstate commerce and knowingly failed to register or update his SORNA registration in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2250(a). According to a May 12, 2008 affidavit, following two convictions in New York, Guzman was designated a Level 2 sex offender and required as a matter of New York law to register and to keep his registration up to date. The affidavit further states that a June 2007 annual verification form sent by New York to Guzman's address was returned by the United States Post Office, and in February 2008 the United States Marshals in Syracuse received information indicating that Guzman was residing in Lawrence, Massachusetts. According to the affidavit, Guzman did not register as a sex offender in Massachusetts. He was arrested on April 29, 2008, and federally indicted.

Guzman's case was assigned to the same district judge who had previously dismissed Hall's indictment. Guzman moved for dismissal, and on October 17, 2008, the district court issued a decision dismissing the indictment. As in its decision in Hall, the district court rejected all of Guzman's arguments in support of dismissal, except for his argument that § 16913 exceeds Congress's authority under the Commerce Clause. Guzman, 582 F.Supp.2d at 315. The court rejected the government's argument that § 16913 regulates activity that substantially affects interstate commerce in the aggregate, see Wickard v. Filburn, 317 U.S. 111, 63 S.Ct. 82, 87 L.Ed. 122 (1942) and Gonzales v. Raich, 545 U.S. 1, 125 S.Ct. 2195, 162 L.Ed.2d 1 (2005), because it regulates an activity that is not economic in nature. Gu...

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    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • July 12, 2011
    ...2008), rev'd, 562 F.3d 1342, 1344 (11th Cir. 2009) (per curiam); United States v. Guzman, 582 F. Supp. 2d 305, 315 (N.D.N.Y. 2008), rev'd, 591 F.3d 83, 89—91 (2d Cir. 2010), cert. denied, 130 S. Ct. 3487; United States v. Hall, 577 F. Supp. 2d 610, 623 (N.D.N.Y. 2008), rev'd sub nom. United......
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    ...both the use of channels of interstate commerce and the instrumentalities of interstate commerce.”). 3.See United States v. Guzman, 591 F.3d 83, 90 (2d Cir.2010) ( “We have no difficulty concluding that § 2250(a) is a proper congressional exercise of the commerce power under Lopez.”). 4.See......
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    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • February 15, 2011
    ...2. Whaley, 577 F.3d at 258; accord United States v. George, 625 F.3d 1124, 2010 WL 4291497, at *4 (9th Cir.2010); United States v. Guzman, 591 F.3d 83, 90 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, ––– U.S. ––––, 130 S.Ct. 3487, 177 L.Ed.2d 1080 (2010); United States v. Gould, 568 F.3d 459, 470–72 (4th Cir.2......
  • U.S.A v. Vasquez, No. 09-2411.
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    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • July 1, 2010
    ...provisions and the penalty for failure to register do not exceed Congress' power under the Commerce Clause. United States v. Guzman, 591 F.3d 83, 90 (2d Cir.2010); Whaley, 577 F.3d at 261; United States v. Howell, 552 F.3d 709, 717 (8th Cir.2009); United States v. Ambert, 561 F.3d 1202, 121......
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160 cases
  • United States. v. Kebodeaux, No. 08-51185
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • July 12, 2011
    ...2008), rev'd, 562 F.3d 1342, 1344 (11th Cir. 2009) (per curiam); United States v. Guzman, 582 F. Supp. 2d 305, 315 (N.D.N.Y. 2008), rev'd, 591 F.3d 83, 89—91 (2d Cir. 2010), cert. denied, 130 S. Ct. 3487; United States v. Hall, 577 F. Supp. 2d 610, 623 (N.D.N.Y. 2008), rev'd sub nom. United......
  • United States v. Cabrera-Gutierrez, No. 12–30233.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • March 17, 2014
    ...both the use of channels of interstate commerce and the instrumentalities of interstate commerce.”). 3.See United States v. Guzman, 591 F.3d 83, 90 (2d Cir.2010) ( “We have no difficulty concluding that § 2250(a) is a proper congressional exercise of the commerce power under Lopez.”). 4.See......
  • U.S. v. Kebodeaux, No. 08–51185.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • February 15, 2011
    ...2. Whaley, 577 F.3d at 258; accord United States v. George, 625 F.3d 1124, 2010 WL 4291497, at *4 (9th Cir.2010); United States v. Guzman, 591 F.3d 83, 90 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, ––– U.S. ––––, 130 S.Ct. 3487, 177 L.Ed.2d 1080 (2010); United States v. Gould, 568 F.3d 459, 470–72 (4th Cir.2......
  • U.S.A v. Vasquez, No. 09-2411.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • July 1, 2010
    ...provisions and the penalty for failure to register do not exceed Congress' power under the Commerce Clause. United States v. Guzman, 591 F.3d 83, 90 (2d Cir.2010); Whaley, 577 F.3d at 261; United States v. Howell, 552 F.3d 709, 717 (8th Cir.2009); United States v. Ambert, 561 F.3d 1202, 121......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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