United States v. Alvarez-Ulloa

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Procedure
  • Date Filed: 04-21-2015
  • Case #: 13-10500
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Tashima for the Court; Circuit Judge Paez and Senior District Judge Block
  • Full Text Opinion

A court’s supplemental answer to a jury question is valid if it does not coerce the jury to make a certain determination.

Over a twelve year period, Jesus Alvarez-Ulloa was a boxer in Arizona. Alvarez-Ulloa was a citizen of Mexico, and was removed back to his home country after he was convicted for attempted illegal reentry after deportation. Alvarez-Ulloa was later detained for trying to steal a copy of the Arizona Cardinals’s roster, and was subject to removal by the United States government. During the jury selection for his removal proceeding, three potential jurors were eliminated by the government during the peremptory strike period. Alvarez-Ulloa argued that these strikes were racially motivated since all three jurors were Hispanic. The district court sustained the jury strikes. Alvarez-Ulloa further argued that due to his injuries from boxing, “he was unable to understand the wrongfulness of his actions,” and should be declared legally insane. During jury deliberations, the district court clarified that the insanity defense could be negated if, after entering the United States, Alvarez-Ulloa was sane long enough to reasonably leave or knowingly remain in the United States. On appeal, Alvarez-Ulloa challenged the district court’s decision to sustain the strikes, and the district court’s insanity defense clarification. The Ninth Circuit found that the strikes were valid because there was a non-racial motivation for eliminating those potential jurors. The panel also determined that Alvarez-Ulloa failed to prove he was insane during the duration of his time in the United States. The panel disagreed with Alvarez-Ulloa’s contention that the clarification was coercive and tainted the jury’s decision in convicting him. The instruction was given to the jury for clarifying purposes only, and the panel found it was not coercive in nature. The panel also rejected Alvarez-Ulloa’s argument that the instruction was a violation of his Fifth Amendment rights. AFFIRMED.

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