U.S. v. Moore, 96-3211EM

Decision Date13 March 1997
Docket NumberNo. 96-3211EM,96-3211EM
Citation108 F.3d 878
PartiesUNITED STATES of America, Appellee, v. Opera MOORE, Appellant.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Eighth Circuit

John Francis Garvey, Jr., St. Louis, MO, argued, for appellant.

Gabriel E. Gore, St. Louis, MO, argued (Edward L. Dowd, Jr., United States Attorney, on the brief), for appellee.

Before RICHARD S. ARNOLD, Chief Judge, HANSEN, Circuit Judge, and BATTEY, * Chief District Judge.

RICHARD S. ARNOLD, Chief Judge.

Opera Moore appeals his convictions of: (1) being a felon in possession of a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1) and 924(e); and (2) being in possession of an unregistered firearm, in violation of 26 U.S.C. §§ 5861(d) and 5871. He was convicted by a jury and sentenced by the District Court 1 to 300 months' imprisonment on count I and 120 months' imprisonment on count II, to be served concurrently. The Court also sentenced Moore to three years of supervised release on count I and two years of supervised release on count II, with the sentences to be served concurrently. We affirm.

I.

During an undercover narcotics purchase being conducted by members of the St. Louis Police Department's Street Corner Apprehension Team (SCAT), a man, later identified as Opera Moore, was seen standing on the porch of the house where alleged drug trafficking was occurring. The police converged on the residence in order to arrest the persons suspected of participating in the drug trafficking activity. Detective Mueller was one of the first officers to arrive at the scene. Upon arriving at the scene, Mueller encountered Moore standing on the front porch. For his safety, and the safety of the other officers, Mueller conducted a pat-down search of Moore and recovered a 12-gauge sawed-off shotgun from Moore's rear waistband. Detective Siscel was also present on the porch and witnessed Mueller remove the gun from Moore's pants. Moore was then placed under arrest for being a felon in possession of a concealable weapon.

During the trial, Moore testified on his own behalf and denied being in possession of a firearm on the day of the drug bust. He stated that the police had found the gun and incorrectly attributed it to him. Moore's testimony at trial completely contradicted the testimony of three of the police officer witnesses who testified on behalf of the government.

Moore appeals his convictions on three grounds. First, he contends that the District Court erred in sentencing him as an armed career criminal pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 924(e). Second, he contends that the Court did not make the requisite findings to support the application of an obstruction of justice enhancement under U.S.S.G. § 3C1.1, and claims that the enhancement was clearly erroneous. 2 Finally, he argues that there was insufficient evidence for the jury to convict him.

II.

18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(1) states:

In the case of a person who violates section 922(g) of this title and has three previous convictions by any court referred to in section 922(g)(1) of this title for a violent felony or a serious drug offense, or both, committed on occasions different from one another, such person shall be fined not more than $25,000 and imprisoned not less than fifteen years....

The statute defines "violent felony" as

any crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year ... that--

(i) has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person of another; or

(ii) burglary, arson, or extortion, involves use of explosives, or otherwise involves conduct that presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another.

18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(2)(B)(i), (ii).

At the time of trial, Moore had 17 prior convictions. At least six of these prior convictions qualify as violent felonies under § 924(e). Moore has: (1) a 1966 Tennessee conviction for burglary; (2) two 1975 Tennessee convictions for attempted burglary; (3) a 1977 federal conviction for breaking and entering a United States Post Office; (4) a 1978 Illinois burglary conviction; and (5) a 1980 federal conviction for breaking and entering a United States Post Office.

Each of Moore's burglary and breaking and entering convictions constitute "generic" burglary for purposes of a § 924(e) enhancement because the crimes have the "basic elements of unlawful or unprivileged entry into, or remaining in, a building or structure, with intent to commit a crime." Taylor v. United States, 495 U.S. 575, 599, 110 S.Ct. 2143, 2158, 109 L.Ed.2d 607 (1990). Moore's two 1975 state-court convictions for attempted burglary also qualify as violent felonies. If an attempted burglary conviction is based on a statute which requires a substantial step towards the completion of the crime, then it qualifies as a predicate violent felony under the "otherwise clause" of § 924(e). United States v. Solomon, 998 F.2d 587, 589-90 (8th Cir.), cert. denied, 510 U.S. 1026, 114 S.Ct. 639, 126 L.Ed.2d 598 (1993). One of the elements of the Tennessee attempted-burglary statute under which Moore was convicted required that a defendant commit an overt act towards the commission of the crime. See United States v. Bureau, 52 F.3d 584, 592 (6th Cir.1995); Tenn.Code Ann. §§ 39-904, 39-603 (Cum.Supp.1974)). "[A] conviction under Tennessee's attempted burglary statute in 1975 involved conduct presenting a serious potential risk of physical injury to another." Bureau, 52 F.3d at 592. Therefore Moore's 1975 convictions qualify as violent offenses for purposes of 18 U.S.C. § 924(e).

Consequently, Mr. Moore has at least three prior violent felony convictions--two convictions for breaking and entering a U.S. Post Office and a 1975 Tennessee conviction for attempted burglary. 3 Moore argues that none of his state burglary or attempted-burglary convictions counts for purposes of § 924(e), because his civil rights have been restored for those convictions. Section 921(a)(20) provides that "[a]ny conviction which has been expunged, or set aside or for which a person has been pardoned or has had civil rights restored shall not be considered a conviction for purposes of this chapter." 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(20).

Moore argues that at the time of his two 1975 Tennessee convictions for attempted burglary, Tennessee did not have a law limiting a convicted felon's right to possess a firearm. Therefore, Moore argues that at the time of these convictions a felon, upon completion of a sentence, had the same right as an individual not convicted of a felony to possess a firearm. Moore relies on United States v. Davis, 936 F.2d 352 (8th Cir.1991), cert. denied, 503 U.S. 908, 112 S.Ct. 1268, 117 L.Ed.2d 496 (1992), for this proposition. In the instant case, unlike in Davis, the state of Tennessee never took Moore's right to possess...

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