- Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
- Area(s) of Law: Post-Conviction Relief
- Date Filed: 09-14-2022
- Case #: 20-17315
- Judge(s)/Court Below: Lee, J. for the Court; Bress, J.; Fitzwater, J.
- Full Text Opinion
Petitioner was charged with conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery, conspiracy to distribute cocaine, and charged with using a firearm in relation to crime of violence or drug trafficking crime. The jury found Petitioner guilty of both conspiracies and the §924(c) firearm offense but failed to specify which offense they used as a predicate for a § 924(c) conviction. Petitioner contended the jury used the robbery conspiracy to convict him under §924(c) which is not a valid predicate and sought relief. The State conceded to this point but argued drug trafficking was a valid predicate to sustain the conviction. Harmless error review under Brecht shall be utilized when evaluating a habeas review of an instructional error where the jury is instructed on both a valid and invalid predicate offense and failed to specify which predicate forms the basis for a §924(c) conviction. The court reasoned the instructional error did not cause substantial and injurious effects because the conspiracies Petitioner was convicted of were inextricably intertwined as the §924(c) conviction rested on both conspiracies and since the distribution of cocaine is a valid predicate §924(c) offense, the instructional error is harmless. AFFIRM denial of relief.