- Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
- Area(s) of Law: Criminal Law
- Date Filed: 12-20-2022
- Case #: 20-10318
- Judge(s)/Court Below: Koh, J. for the Court; Thomas, J.; & Smith, J.
- Full Text Opinion
Appellants appealed a conviction of forced labor on two counts, violating 18 U.S.C. §1589(a). Appellants assigned error to the district court’s rejection of their proposed jury instructions, which instructed the jury that they must be unanimous as to the four possible means that the Appellants used to commit the offense. Additionally, Appellants argued that the jury instructions regarding forced labor under §1589(a) were erroneous because the paragraphs of the statute describe different legal elements. The Court acknowledged the significance of determining whether a statute lists elements or means of a crime. “The Supreme Court regards elements as those circumstances on which the jury must unanimously agree, while it regards means as those circumstances on which the jury may disagree yet still convict.” Rendon v. Holder, 764 F.3d 1077, 1086 (9th Cir. 2014). The Court then examined the text of 18 U.S.C. §1589(a). “When called on to interpret a statute, this Court generally seeks to discern and apply the ordinary meaning of its terms at the time of their adoption.” BP P.L.C. v. Mayor & City Council of Baltimore, 141 S. Ct. 1532, 1537 (2021). The Court determined that the statute alternatives in 18 U.S.C. §1589(a) are factual means, not distinct elements, which was correctly decided by the district court when they denied the Appellants jury instruction request. Affirmed.