United States v. Kuok

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Law
  • Date Filed: 01-17-2012
  • Case #: 10-50444
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Bybee for the Court; Circuit Judge Pregerson and Senior District Judge G. Davidson
  • Full Text Opinion

The Arms Export Control Act does not violate the nondelegation principle; "attempting to cause an export of a defense article is not a federal crime"; 18 U.S.C. § 1956 convictions will be vacated where the government fails to satisfy the amount-in controversy requirement of § 1956(f)(2); and district courts must allow a defendant to present a duress defense to a jury where "he has alleged facts sufficient" to support such defense.

Kuok appealed from conviction on four counts. The Court found venue to be proper in the district court, as although the actions within the district were by undercover agents, they were not so "extreme" for a claim of "manufactured venue" to apply. The Court upheld the Arms Export Control Act ("AECA") against Kuok's challenges under the nondelegation principle, because "the delegation of foreign affairs authority is given even broader deference . . . because of the . . . exclusive power of the President as the sole organ of the federal government in the field of international relations." The Court vacated Kuok's conviction on count four, for lack of jurisdiction based on the government's failure "to satisfy the amount-in-controversy requirement of 18 U.S.C. § 1956(f)(2)." The Court also vacated the conviction on count 3, holding "that attempting to cause export of defense articles without a license is not in violation of U.S. law," as "there is no general federal 'attempt' statute," so "an attempt to commit a federal crime is punishable only where the section defining the crime specifically includes an attempt within its proscription." In evaluating Kuok's claims regarding the interpretation of specific provisions of 18 U.S.C. § 554, the Court upheld Kuok's conviction under count 2. Finally, the Court reviewed Kuok's duress claims, finding that "he has alleged facts sufficient to present his defense to the jury." REVERSED; REMANDED.

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