United States v. Anguiano-Morfin

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
  • Date Filed: 04-18-2013
  • Case #: 11-50376
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge W. Fletcher for the Court; Circuit Judge Rawlinson and Senior District Judge Hellerstein
  • Full Text Opinion

Although the “willfulness” requirement in 18 U.S.C. § 911 necessitates knowledge on the part of the defendant, jury instructions are adequate under circumstances where a “misrepresentation...[is] deliberately made” because this “suggests a knowing falsehood.”

Mariano Anguiano-Morfin, formerly a lawful, permanent resident in the United States, was removed to Mexico in 2010. After this removal, Anguiano-Morfin told a border agent at a United States port of entry that he was a United States citizen. Anguiano-Morfin was then arrested and tried under 18 U.S.C. § 911 for falsely claiming citizenship. At trial, Anguiano-Morfin argued “that he suffered from a delusion that caused him genuinely to believe that he was a United States citizen.” Further, he argued, his actions did not meet the willfulness requirement of the statute. A jury convicted Anguiano-Morfin, and the district court denied his motion for a new trial. On appeal, Anguiano-Morfin argued that the district court jury instructions were inadequate because the court refused to give the instructions he requested, which explicitly mentioned the knowledge requirement. The Ninth Circuit confirmed the knowledge requirement, but reasoned that jury instructions can be considered as a whole, in light of the circumstances in a given case, and in combination with the testimony and closing arguments at trial in order to determine whether they sufficiently conveyed the essential elements of a crime and adequately presented a defendant’s theory of a case. On these grounds, the panel held that the instructions were adequate under circumstances as seen here where a “misrepresentation...[is] deliberately made” because this “suggests a knowing falsehood.” Anguiano-Morfin also argued prosecutorial misconduct, alleging improper questioning of his expert witness. Since Anguiano-Morfin had not objected to this at trial, the panel reviewed for plain error and found none. AFFIRMED.

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