United States v. Marguet-Pillado

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Immigration
  • Date Filed: 08-12-2011
  • Case #: 10-50041
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: District Judge J. Gwin for the Court; Circuit Judge B. Fletcher; Circuit Judge N. R. Smith dissenting
  • Full Text Opinion

The “law of the case doctrine” does not apply in a criminal trial where the instruction was intended enforce the government’s burden to prove alienage as an element of a § 1326 violation, regardless that defendant’s theory of derivative citizenship was rejected on a previous appeal.

Marguet-Pillado appealed his conviction of being a previously removed alien found in the United States in violation of 8 U.S.C. § 1326. The Court found the district court erred when it denied Marguet-Pillado requested instruction on derivative citizenship. On a previous appeal the Court had found Marguet-Pillado to be an alien after he admitted having no biological relation to his stepfather who is a U.S. citizen. Subsequently, the district court in the instant case believed that the jury could not, as a matter of law, reach a contradictory conclusion and thus the “law of the case doctrine” precluded the instruction. The Ninth Circuit Court, however, found the law of the case doctrine unconstitutional in a criminal trial where the instruction was intended enforce the government’s burden to prove alienage beyond a reasonable doubt, as an element of a § 1326 violation, and where “substantially different evidence was adduced at a subsequent trial.” Marguet-Pillado later claimed a biological relationship with his stepfather. Marguet-Pillado, therefore, was entitled to the instruction because his theory of derivative citizenship was legally sound and supported by evidence, and because a previous admission “should not preclude [defendant] from holding the government to its burden of proof on each element of the offense in a later trial.” REVERSED and REMANDED.

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