United States v. Stanfill El

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Constitutional Law
  • Date Filed: 04-30-2013
  • Case #: 12-30155
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Clifton for the Court; Circuit Judges Tashima and Bea
  • Full Text Opinion

The Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial is not triggered by any amount of potential restitution; and the Seventh Amendment right to a civil jury trial is not implicated by the potential award of restitution as a result of a criminal prosecution.

Lawrence Stanfill El was charged with assault under 18 U.S.C. § 113(a)(4). The charge carried a maximum term of six months imprisonment. Stanfill El requested a jury trial under the authority of the Sixth and Seventh Amendments, but the district court denied his request. Stanfill argued the potential imposition of a substantial restitution award overcomes the “very strong” presumption that a criminal charge which carries a maximum term of only six months imprisonment is “petty” and does not implicate the Sixth Amendment. The Ninth Circuit held, under Ballek, that the Sixth Amendment’s right to a jury trial is not triggered by any amount of restitution. The panel reasoned restitution simply “recognizes the debt” the defendant already owes and “does not impose [any] additional obligation[s]” on the defendant. The panel also held that the “historic record” did not support Stanfill El’s claim of a right to a jury trial under the Seventh Amendment. The panel reasoned the potential monetary award of restitution as a result of a criminal prosecution, “did not appear” to implicate the Seventh Amendment “at the time of the founding [of our Constitution].” The panel further noted that the Seventh Amendment provides a right to a jury trial in civil actions not criminal prosecutions. AFFIRMED.

Advanced Search