United States v. Roosevelt Coats, 18-13113

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtJULIE CARNES, Circuit Judge
Citation8 F.4th 1228
Parties UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. ROOSEVELT COATS, III, Defendant-Appellant.
Docket NumberNo. 18-13113,18-13113
Decision Date12 August 2021

8 F.4th 1228

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
ROOSEVELT COATS, III, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 18-13113

United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit.

August 12, 2021


Cyneetha Shanelle Booker, Assistant U.S. Attorney, U.S. Attorney's Office, Michelle Lee Schieber, U.S. Attorney Service-Middle District of Georgia, U.S. Attorney's Office, Macon, GA, for Plaintiff-Appellee

Jonathan Dodson, Christina Lee Hunt, Christina Lee Hunt, Federal Public Defender's Office, Macon, GA, for Defendant-Appellant.

Before MARTIN, NEWSOM, and JULIE CARNES, Circuit Judges.

JULIE CARNES, Circuit Judge:

Defendant Roosevelt Coats pled guilty to and was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g). The district court sentenced Defendant to serve 235 months in prison pursuant to the Armed Career Criminal Act ("ACCA"), which applies when a defendant who is convicted of violating § 922(g) has three prior convictions for a "serious drug offense" or a "violent felony." The court applied the ACCA based in part on Defendant's 2003 Georgia burglary conviction, which the court determined was a violent felony for purposes of the ACCA. Defendant's sentence also reflected the district court's denial of an acceptance-of-responsibility reduction to his recommended sentencing guidelines range based on his obstructive conduct preceding his guilty plea.

On appeal, Defendant argues that his burglary conviction does not satisfy the ACCA's definition of a violent felony and that, due to extraordinary circumstances, he was entitled to an acceptance-of-responsibility reduction despite his obstructive conduct. He also argues for the first time on appeal that his conviction should be vacated because his guilty plea was constitutionally invalid pursuant to the Supreme Court's decision in Rehaif v. United States , ––– U.S. ––––, 139 S. Ct. 2191, 204 L.Ed.2d 594 (2019). We affirm Defendant's conviction because any Rehaif error was nonprejudicial; we affirm Defendant's sentence because we agree with the district court that his 2003 Georgia burglary conviction qualifies as a violent felony under the ACCA, and we conclude that the district court did not clearly err in refusing to award an acceptance-of-responsibility reduction.

BACKGROUND

Defendant was arrested in 2017 on state drug and weapons charges after making several controlled drug sales to a confidential informant ("CI"). The transactions between Defendant and the CI were monitored through a recording device the CI was wearing. In one of the recorded transactions, Defendant sold the CI a rifle for $100. During their subsequent investigation, police discovered that Defendant had provided the CI with, and was in possession of, additional guns. Defendant was a

8 F.4th 1233

convicted felon at the time of the transactions with the CI and the investigation.

Following his arrest, Defendant was housed at the Wilkinson County, Georgia jail while he awaited trial on the state charges. The CI who assisted in the investigation of Defendant was in custody at the same facility. At some point during his incarceration, Defendant gained access to the CI and assaulted him by punching him in the face. That incident resulted in additional state charges against Defendant for battery and influencing a witness, to which he pleaded guilty.

A federal grand jury subsequently indicted Defendant on one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). The indictment alleged that "having been convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year[,]" Defendant "did knowingly possess a firearm in and affecting interstate and foreign commerce, to wit: one (1) Marlin, Glenfield model 75C, .22 caliber rifle."

Defendant pled guilty without a plea agreement. At the plea hearing, Defendant confirmed his understanding that, by entering a guilty plea, he would be giving up his trial rights, as described by the court. After reading the indictment verbatim, the Government explained:

At trial we would have to prove that he possessed the firearm -- that he knowingly possessed the firearm affecting -- in or affecting interstate and foreign commerce and that prior to this possession that he had been convicted of a felony crime that's punishable by a term of imprisonment of more than one year.

Defendant informed the court that he had reviewed the indictment with counsel and confirmed that he understood the charge, stating that he had no questions. As to the factual basis for the plea, defense counsel stipulated that "Mr. Coats did knowingly possess a firearm and that it was in and affecting interstate commerce and that he does have a prior felony conviction." Defendant said he wished to plead guilty of his own free will because he was in fact guilty, and the court accepted his plea, finding it knowing and voluntary.

A probation officer prepared a presentence investigation report ("PSR"), which concluded that Defendant qualified for an ACCA enhancement based on his prior convictions for possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, burglary, and sale of cocaine. The PSR assigned Defendant a base offense level of 20, and it recommended a 2-level increase for the number of firearms involved in the offense and a 2-level increase for obstruction of justice, with no acceptance-of-responsibility reduction under § 3E1.1 of the Sentencing Guidelines as a result of the jail-house assault on the CI. As noted, the PSR also determined that Defendant should be sentenced under the ACCA based on his two prior serious drug offense convictions and his 2003 Georgia burglary conviction, which the PSR categorized as a violent felony. The ACCA enhancement and Defendant's criminal history category of VI resulted in an adjusted offense level of 33 and a recommended sentencing guidelines range of 235 to 293 months.

Defendant objected to the PSR, arguing that his Georgia burglary conviction did not satisfy the ACCA's definition of a violent felony and that he should have received an acceptance-of-responsibility reduction despite his obstructive conduct with respect to the CI. In support of his ACCA objection, Defendant submitted a copy of his indictment in the Georgia burglary case showing that he had been charged as a "party to" the burglary. Specifically, the indictment charged that "ROOSEVELT COATS and JADE HILL, acting together and as parties to the crime" committed "the offense of BURGLARY

8 F.4th 1234

( O.C.G.A. § 16-7-1 )." According to Defendant, his conviction as a party to the crime of Georgia burglary did not satisfy the ACCA's definition of a violent felony because Georgia law defining who can be a party to a crime is broader than the generic version of accomplice liability. As to acceptance of responsibility, Defendant argued that he should receive the reduction because his obstructive conduct preceded his federal indictment for the § 922(g) offense. Defendant did not, in his objections, challenge the PSR's descriptions of his criminal history.

The district court overruled Defendant's ACCA objection and held that his 2003 Georgia burglary conviction qualified as a violent felony for purposes of the ACCA. As to Defendant's acceptance-of-responsibility objection, the court found there were no "extraordinary circumstances" warranting the reduction, given Defendant's obstructive conduct. Having rejected Defendant's ACCA and other sentencing arguments, the court accepted the PSR's recommendations and sentenced Defendant to serve 235 months in prison.

On appeal, Defendant asserts that his conviction should be vacated because his guilty plea was constitutionally invalid under the Supreme Court's decision in Rehaif v. United States , ––– U.S. ––––, 139 S. Ct. 2191, 204 L.Ed.2d 594 (2019). Defendant argues further that he should not have been sentenced under the ACCA because his 2003 Georgia burglary conviction does not qualify as a violent felony under the ACCA. Specifically, Defendant argues that he was convicted of being a party to the burglary under a Georgia statute that provides for broader criminal liability than generic accomplice law. Finally, Defendant argues he is entitled to a three-point reduction for acceptance of responsibility because of the "extraordinary circumstance" that his obstructive conduct preceded his guilty plea.

DISCUSSION

I. Defendant's Rehaif Challenge

Section 922(g) of Title 18 of the United States Code prohibits nine categories of individuals, including felons like Defendant, from possessing firearms. Section 924(a)(2) provides that "[w]hoever knowingly violates [ 18 U.S.C. § 922(g) ] shall be ... imprisoned not more than 10 years." 18 U.S.C. § 924(a)(2). Defendant pled guilty to violating § 922(g)(1), which criminalizes possession of a firearm by any person "who has been convicted in any court of, a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year." Id. § 922(g)(1).

When the district court accepted Defendant's guilty plea, the law of this Circuit provided that a § 922(g) conviction for being a felon in possession of a firearm required proof that the defendant knowingly possessed a firearm, but it did not require proof that the defendant knew...

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16 practice notes
  • Richman v. United States, 2:13-CR-127-FTM-29NPM
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Florida
    • January 24, 2022
    ...120 F.3d 1226, 1229 (11th Cir. 1997); United States v. Rehaif, 888 F.3d 1138, 1147 (11th Cir. 2018); United States v. Roosevelt Coats, 8 F.4th 1228, 1234 (11th Cir. 2021). This was changed by the Supreme Court in Rehaif v. United States, 139 S.Ct. 2191 (2019). In Rehaif, the Supreme Court r......
  • Bradshaw v. Fed. Aviation Admin., 18-14249
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • August 12, 2021
    ...afforded by the FAA to DPEs and other classifications of designees has a rational basis. As the FAA explained in its response brief:8 F.4th 1228 In establishing termination procedures for its designated representative, the FAA must balance its need for accurate decisions with its need to ad......
  • Hodge v. United States, 2:21-cv-193-JES-MRM
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Florida
    • April 14, 2022
    ...120 F.3d 1226, 1229 (11th Cir. 1997); United States v. Rehaif, 888 F.3d 1138, 1147 (11th Cir. 2018); United States v. Roosevelt Coats, 8 F.4th 1228, 1234 (11th Cir. 2021). This was changed by the Supreme Court in Rehaif v. United States, 139 S.Ct. 2191 (2019) . In Rehaif, the Supreme Court ......
  • Hodge v. United States, 2:17-cr-119-JES-MRM
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Florida
    • April 14, 2022
    ...120 F.3d 1226, 1229 (11th Cir. 1997); United States v. Rehaif, 888 F.3d 1138, 1147 (11th Cir. 2018); United States v. Roosevelt Coats, 8 F.4th 1228, 1234 (11th Cir. 2021). This was changed by the Supreme Court in Rehaif v. United States, 139 S.Ct. 2191 (2019) . In Rehaif, the Supreme Court ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
16 cases
  • Richman v. United States, 2:13-CR-127-FTM-29NPM
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Florida
    • January 24, 2022
    ...120 F.3d 1226, 1229 (11th Cir. 1997); United States v. Rehaif, 888 F.3d 1138, 1147 (11th Cir. 2018); United States v. Roosevelt Coats, 8 F.4th 1228, 1234 (11th Cir. 2021). This was changed by the Supreme Court in Rehaif v. United States, 139 S.Ct. 2191 (2019). In Rehaif, the Supreme Court r......
  • Bradshaw v. Fed. Aviation Admin., No. 18-14249
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • August 12, 2021
    ...afforded by the FAA to DPEs and other classifications of designees has a rational basis. As the FAA explained in its response brief:8 F.4th 1228 In establishing termination procedures for its designated representative, the FAA must balance its need for accurate decisions with its need to ad......
  • Hodge v. United States, 2:21-cv-193-JES-MRM
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Florida
    • April 14, 2022
    ...120 F.3d 1226, 1229 (11th Cir. 1997); United States v. Rehaif, 888 F.3d 1138, 1147 (11th Cir. 2018); United States v. Roosevelt Coats, 8 F.4th 1228, 1234 (11th Cir. 2021). This was changed by the Supreme Court in Rehaif v. United States, 139 S.Ct. 2191 (2019) . In Rehaif, the Supreme Court ......
  • Hodge v. United States, 2:17-cr-119-JES-MRM
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Florida
    • April 14, 2022
    ...120 F.3d 1226, 1229 (11th Cir. 1997); United States v. Rehaif, 888 F.3d 1138, 1147 (11th Cir. 2018); United States v. Roosevelt Coats, 8 F.4th 1228, 1234 (11th Cir. 2021). This was changed by the Supreme Court in Rehaif v. United States, 139 S.Ct. 2191 (2019) . In Rehaif, the Supreme Court ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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