United States v. Bryant

Summarized by:

  • Court: U.S. Supreme Court Certiorari Granted
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Law
  • Date Filed: December 14, 2015
  • Case #: 15-420
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: 792 F.3d 1042 (9th Cir 2015)
  • Full Text Opinion

Whether the domestic abuse recidivist statute should consider past convictions from tribal courts where the defendant did not have a right to counsel and the conviction resulted in imprisonment.

Respondent had been convicted in tribal court for domestic violence and imprisoned. Respondent was later convicted in federal district court in Montana for domestic abuse under 18 U.S.C. 117(a) and sentenced to forty-six months in prison and three years supervised release.

Respondent appealed his conviction to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Ninth Circuit held that in tribal courts, uncounseled, past convictions resulting in imprisonment may not be used against the defendant in subsequent proceedings.

Petitioner argues that by restricting the use of past convictions for domestic violence, federal prosecutors are limited in their efforts to reduce domestic violence in Indian Country. Additionally, petitioner asserts that the Ninth Circuit ruling goes against other Circuit's rulings on this issue and disrupts uniformity in applying a federal statute.

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