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United States v. Mansfield

United States District Court, D. Colorado

August 16, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
1. GEOFFREY WARD MANSFIELD, Defendant.

          ORDER

          PHILIP A. BRIMMER CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on defendant Geoffrey Ward Mansfield's Motion for Judgment of Acquittal under Fed. R. Crim. P. 29 and 45 [Docket No. 83].

         I. BACKGROUND

         On February 21, 2019, a jury found defendant guilty of knowingly possessing a firearm by a convicted felon in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). Docket No. 63; see also Docket No. 64 at 18. The Court instructed the jury that it could find defendant guilty if it determined the government had proved the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

First: on or about July 31, 2017, the defendant knowingly possessed a firearm;
Second: the defendant was convicted of a felony, that is, a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year, before he possessed the firearm; and
Third: before the defendant possessed the firearm, the firearm had moved at some time from one state to another.

Docket No. 64 at 18. Pursuant to a stipulation entered into by the parties before trial, see Docket Nos. 27, 30, 50, the Court further instructed:

The parties stipulate that, prior to July 31, 2017, the defendant was convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year. Therefore, you must consider the second element of Count One as having been proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

Docket No. 64 at 18.

         Following defendant's conviction, but before sentencing, the Supreme Court decided Rehaif v. United States, 139 S.Ct. 2191 (2019), in which it held that, to obtain a conviction under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g) or § 924(a)(2), the government “must prove both that the defendant knew he possessed a firearm and that he knew he belonged to the relevant category of persons barred from possessing a firearm.” Id. at 2200. On July 26, 2019, defendant moved for judgment of acquittal arguing that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to convict defendant under the standard announced in Rehaif. See Docket No. 83. The government filed a response to the motion on August 5, 2019, Docket No. 87, to which defendant replied on August 9, 2019. Docket No. 88.

         II. ANALYSIS

         Defendant moves for judgment of acquittal under Fed. R. Crim. P. 29. In considering defendant's motion, the Court views the evidence “in the light most favorable to the government, and without weighing conflicting evidence or considering the credibility of witnesses, determine[s] whether that evidence, if believed, would establish each element of the crime.” United States v. Fuller, 751 F.3d 1150, 1153 (10th Cir. 2014) (quotations omitted). The Court may enter a judgment of acquittal “only if the evidence that defendant committed the crime is nonexistent or so meager that no reasonable jury could find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.” Id. (quotations omitted).

         Defendant argues that he is entitled to judgment of acquittal because the evidence presented by the government at trial was insufficient to prove that he knew he was a convicted felon at the time he possessed the firearm. Docket No. 83 at 2-3. In response, the government appears to concede that defendant's conviction must be vacated in light of Rehaif, but argues that a retrial is permitted under the Double Jeopardy Clause because defendant's sufficiency-of-the-evidence challenge must be evaluated according to the standard of proof that existed at the time of trial. See Docket No. 87 at 3-7. Alternatively, ...


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