- Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
- Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
- Date Filed: 11-22-2022
- Case #: No. 20-30193
- Judge(s)/Court Below: Fletcher, Circuit Judge, for the Court, joined by Gould, Circuit Judge, with Collins, Circuit Judge, concurring in part and dissenting in part.
- Full Text Opinion
Kirst piloted a small plane that crashed, fatally injuring one of the passengers. Amidst investigations by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Kirst made false statements about the events leading up to the accident. He was subsequently charged with obstructing a pending “proceeding” under 18 U.S.C. § 1505. Kirst challenged his conviction, arguing (1) the NTSB investigation is not a “proceeding” under § 1505, and (2) there was insufficient evidence to support his conviction. “An administrative investigation is a ‘proceeding’ within the meaning of 18 U.S.C. [§] 1505.” United States v. Vixie, 532 F.2d 1277, 1278 (9th Cir. 1976) (per curiam). Wrongful intent “may be inferred from circumstantial evidence.” United States v. Dearing, 504 F.3d 897, 901 (9th Cir. 2007). The NTSB’s investigation of Kirst’s plane crash constituted a “proceeding” because it was an administrative investigation where the NTSB had subpoena power and the power to compel testimony under oath. The evidence was sufficient to support the conviction because the fact that Kirst’s airman certificate and overall livelihood were in jeopardy pending the investigation’s outcome provided sufficient circumstantial evidence of his motive to obstruct the NTSB proceedings. Affirmed.