United States v. Chapman, No. 15-30538

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtKING, Circuit Judge
Citation851 F.3d 363
Parties UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee Cross-Appellant v. Jermaine J. CHAPMAN, also known as Dump Truck, Charles Boyer, also known as Slim, Defendants-Appellants Jeffery D. Perry, Defendant-Appellant Cross-Appellee
Docket NumberNo. 15-30538
Decision Date10 March 2017

851 F.3d 363

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee Cross-Appellant
v.
Jermaine J. CHAPMAN, also known as Dump Truck, Charles Boyer, also known as Slim, Defendants-Appellants

Jeffery D. Perry, Defendant-Appellant Cross-Appellee

No. 15-30538

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit.

Filed March 10, 2017


Mary Patricia Jones, Robert William Piedrahita, Esq., Assistant U.S. Attorneys, U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Louisiana, Baton Rouge, LA, for Plaintiff-Appellee Cross-Appellant.

Christopher Albert Aberle, Mandeville, LA, David J. Rozas, Rozas & Rozas Law Firm, L.L.C., Baton Rouge, LA, for Jermaine J. Chapman, also known as Dump Truck.

Joseph Kelsey Scott, III, Baton Rouge, LA, for Charles Boyer, also known as Slim.

J. David Bourland, Baton Rouge, LA, Michael Sean Walsh, Lauren Kelsey Rivera, Taylor, Porter, Brooks & Phillips, L.L.P., Baton Rouge, LA, for Jeffery D. Perry.

Before STEWART, Chief Judge, and KING and DENNIS, Circuit Judges.

KING, Circuit Judge:

Defendants Jeffery Perry, Jermaine Chapman, and Charles Boyer appeal their convictions for various offenses related to their participation in a drug trafficking conspiracy. The Government cross-appeals Perry's sentence as to his dual firearms convictions under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c), arguing that the district court erred in failing to apply the 25-year mandatory minimum sentence for second or subsequent § 924(c) convictions to one of Perry's convictions. Finding error only on the latter issue, we AFFIRM in part and VACATE and REMAND in part.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

A. Facts

This case centers on a cocaine and crack dealing organization operated by Defendant Jeffery Perry and based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Perry's organization consisted of many operatives, including Defendants Jermaine Chapman (aka "Dump Truck") and Charles Boyer (aka "Slim"), who assisted Perry by purchasing drug-making supplies, weighing and bagging the drugs, retrieving drugs from storage locations, interacting with customers

851 F.3d 370

who were buying drugs, and disposing of kilogram wrappers. Over the years, Perry used various houses, referred to as "click houses," in South Baton Rouge, which were largely owned by his family, as distribution centers and headquarters for the organization. Chapman and Boyer at various times resided in the click houses, along with other operatives in Perry's organization. Perry regularly used the kitchens of the click houses to cook crack. Customers who came to the click houses to purchase drugs sometimes used a gun as payment, and Perry stored some of the bartered guns in at least one of the click houses, 221 Evergreen Street. Perry had secret compartments for storing drugs installed over a doorway and under the kitchen sink of the Evergreen Street click house. Chapman knew about and used the secret compartments.

Perry and his associates had several encounters with the Baton Rouge Police Department (BRPD) and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) over the years, including selling drugs to DEA confidential informants. BRPD also conducted periodic surveillance and executed multiple search warrants at the click houses, in sum seizing crack, cocaine, drug paraphernalia, large quantities of cash, and guns. In addition to selling drugs, Perry and his operatives also engaged in robbery, carjacking, and unlawful possession of guns. In September 2011, after a multi-year investigation by the DEA and the BRPD, Perry and Chapman were arrested while driving from Houston to Baton Rouge in two separate vehicles with two kilograms of cocaine in Chapman's vehicle. Boyer was later arrested in California and extradited to Louisiana for trial.

B. Trial

In July 2013, the grand jury returned a 19-count second superseding indictment against Perry, Chapman, Boyer, and five other associates.1 They were charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 280 grams or more of cocaine base and 5 kilograms or more of cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846(a)(1). Perry and Boyer were charged with carjacking and use of a firearm in commission thereof. Perry and Chapman were each also charged with other drug possession and distribution crimes, along with several gun-related crimes. In relevant part, Count 6 of the indictment charged Perry with knowingly discharging a firearm during and in relation to drug trafficking activity—namely, the drug conspiracy (charged in Count 1) and a carjacking incident (charged in Count 5), in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A)(iii) and § 924(c)(2). And Count 10 of the indictment charged Perry and Chapman each with knowingly possessing a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking activity—namely, the drug conspiracy (charged in Count 1) and possession with intent to distribute cocaine and 28 grams or more of cocaine base (charged in Count 9)—in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A) and § 924(c)(2).

Prior to trial, Boyer moved to sever his trial from that of his co-defendants. Boyer noted that he was charged with only three counts of the indictment, was mentioned in only four of the 36 paragraphs supporting the conspiracy charge, and did not participate in the conspiracy for its duration because he moved to California and left the conspiracy in 2010, the year before the

851 F.3d 371

indictment was returned. Given his relatively minor role, Boyer argued that he would be unfairly prejudiced by being jointly tried alongside the other defendants. The district court denied the motion, noting the "well-recognized preference ... for joint trials of defendants who are indicted together." The district court concluded that any possible prejudice to Boyer would be sufficiently mitigated through jury instructions and the court's continued monitoring of the case as it progressed to trial.

The trial commenced in September 2014. After five days of trial, the presiding district judge became ill, and Judge Shelly Dick replaced him as the judge presiding over the trial after certifying that she was familiar with the record. See Fed. R. Crim. P. 25(a)(2). After testimony from over 40 witnesses, including testimony from six co-defendants who had pleaded guilty pursuant to plea agreements, and the introduction of voluminous amounts of evidence, the trial concluded on September 22, 2014.2 The district judge instructed the jury to separately consider each defendant and count, as well as the evidence as it pertained to each defendant and count. The judge also instructed the jury on Pinkerton liability, see Pinkerton v. United States , 328 U.S. 640, 66 S.Ct. 1180, 90 L.Ed. 1489 (1946), explaining: "A conspirator is responsible for offenses committed by other conspirators if the conspirator was a member of the conspiracy when the offense was committed, and if the offense was committed in furtherance of, or as a foreseeable consequence of, the conspiracy." The jury returned its verdict on September 23. In relevant part, the jury found Perry, Chapman, and Boyer each guilty of conspiracy (Count 1), found Perry guilty of two firearms offenses (Counts 6 and 10, which both charged violations of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) ), and found Chapman guilty of one firearms offense (Count 10).3 And Boyer was found not guilty of the other two counts with which he was charged, both related to carjacking.

C. Motions for New Trials

On October 7, Boyer moved for a post-trial judgment of acquittal or, in the alternative, a new trial. He argued that the evidence did not support his conviction for conspiracy and that he was unfairly prejudiced by being tried alongside his more culpable co-defendants. The district court denied the motion, concluding that substantial evidence supported Boyer's conspiracy conviction and there were "no extraordinary circumstances" that would justify a new trial.

On March 10, 2015, Perry filed a "Motion for Evidentiary Hearing and New Trial." Perry claimed that, after the trial concluded, he discovered new evidence related to one of the counts under which he was convicted—Count 10—for possession of two firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking activity. This charge related to guns found in 2010 in the secret compartment under the kitchen sink of the Evergreen Street click house. In support of his motion, Perry attached an undated declaration by his counsel stating that a man arrested at the click house at the time the police discovered the guns, John West, had revealed to counsel that he owned the guns and stored them at the Evergreen click house "without ... Perry's knowledge" and with the intent to sell them. Based on

851 F.3d 372

this allegedly new evidence, Perry requested an evidentiary hearing and a new trial. Chapman, who was also convicted on Count 10, successfully moved to adopt Perry's motion as filed on his own behalf. The district court denied the joint motion without a hearing, concluding that the allegedly new evidence was not likely to result in either defendant's acquittal on Count 10. The court found that, contrary to indicating Perry's and Chapman's innocence, this evidence "strongly support[ed] the notion that West was a co-conspirator ... [i]n which case, even if Perry and...

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76 practice notes
  • United States v. Gibson, No. 15-20323
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • November 7, 2017
    ...testimony of an accomplice or of someone making a plea bargain with the government’ can support a conviction." United States v. Chapman , 851 F.3d 363, 378 (5th Cir. 2017) (quoting United States v. Shoemaker , 746 F.3d 614, 623 (5th Cir. 2014) ).A. A rational juror could find beyond a reaso......
  • United States v. Reed, No. 17-30296
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • November 5, 2018
    ...was not violated where the district court concluded that proffered testimony would not assist the jury).34 United States v. Chapman , 851 F.3d 363, 379 (5th Cir. 2017) (quoting United States v. Whitfield , 590 F.3d 325, 355 (5th Cir. 2009) ) (discussing a motion to sever defendants); see Un......
  • United States v. Perry, 17-30610
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • May 12, 2022
    ...by the jury. In other words, a defendant seeking reversal on the basis of insufficient evidence swims upstream. United States v. Chapman , 851 F.3d 363, 376 (5th Cir. 2017) (cleaned up).1. Credibility of Cooperating Witnesses A threshold issue for some of the sufficiency challenges raised b......
  • FEDERAL CRIMINAL CONSPIRACY
    • United States
    • American Criminal Law Review Nbr. 58-3, July 2021
    • July 1, 2021
    ...See United States v. Hassan, 578 F.3d 108, 123 (2d Cir. 2008) (quoting Morgan, 385 F.3d at 206); see alsoUnited States v. Chapman, 851 F.3d 363, 378–79 (5th Cir. 2017) (f‌inding that a person must specif‌ically intendthat the underlying crime be committed to be liable forconspiracy).54. See......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
74 cases
  • United States v. Gibson, No. 15-20323
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • November 7, 2017
    ...testimony of an accomplice or of someone making a plea bargain with the government’ can support a conviction." United States v. Chapman , 851 F.3d 363, 378 (5th Cir. 2017) (quoting United States v. Shoemaker , 746 F.3d 614, 623 (5th Cir. 2014) ).A. A rational juror could find beyond a reaso......
  • United States v. Reed, No. 17-30296
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • November 5, 2018
    ...was not violated where the district court concluded that proffered testimony would not assist the jury).34 United States v. Chapman , 851 F.3d 363, 379 (5th Cir. 2017) (quoting United States v. Whitfield , 590 F.3d 325, 355 (5th Cir. 2009) ) (discussing a motion to sever defendants); see Un......
  • United States v. Perry, 17-30610
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • May 12, 2022
    ...by the jury. In other words, a defendant seeking reversal on the basis of insufficient evidence swims upstream. United States v. Chapman , 851 F.3d 363, 376 (5th Cir. 2017) (cleaned up).1. Credibility of Cooperating Witnesses A threshold issue for some of the sufficiency challenges raised b......
  • United States v. Barnes, No. 18-31074
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • October 28, 2020
    ...14(a).106 United States v. Reed , 908 F.3d 102, 114 (5th Cir. 2018) (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting United States v. Chapman , 851 F.3d 363, 379 (5th Cir. 2017) ).107 Id. (quoting United States v. Mitchell , 484 F.3d 762, 775 (5th Cir. 2007) ).108 Id. (quoting United States v. R......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • FEDERAL CRIMINAL CONSPIRACY
    • United States
    • American Criminal Law Review Nbr. 58-3, July 2021
    • July 1, 2021
    ...See United States v. Hassan, 578 F.3d 108, 123 (2d Cir. 2008) (quoting Morgan, 385 F.3d at 206); see alsoUnited States v. Chapman, 851 F.3d 363, 378–79 (5th Cir. 2017) (f‌inding that a person must specif‌ically intendthat the underlying crime be committed to be liable forconspiracy).54. See......

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