Greer v. United States

Summarized by:

  • Court: U.S. Supreme Court Certiorari Granted
  • Area(s) of Law: Appellate Procedure
  • Date Filed: January 8, 2021
  • Case #: 19-8709
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: 753 F. App'x 886 (11th Cir. 2019)
  • Full Text Opinion

Whether when applying plain-error review based upon an intervening United States Supreme Court decision, a circuit court of appeals may review matters outside the trial record to determine whether the error affected a defendant’s substantial rights or impacted the fairness, integrity, or public reputation of the trial?

In Rehaif v. United States, 139 S. Ct. 2191 (2019), the court held that, when prosecuting a defendant under 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g) and 924(a)(2) (statues relating to prohibited people in possession of firearms), the government must prove both that the prohibited person knew they possessed a firearm and they knew they belonged in a category of persons prohibited from firearm possession. However, since the decision, there has been a split amongst the circuit courts of appeal when those courts attempt to determine the scope of review in the cases remanded by the Supreme Court for reconsideration in light of the holding in Rehaif. Petitioner argues that the scope of review should be limited exclusively to the trial record, consistent with plain error review. Petitioner argues that going outside the trial record, the court violates the defendant’s due process right under the Fifth Amendment and the Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial. Because the Eleventh Circuit did not limit its review to the court record, it did not apply the correct standard. Petitioner argues the lower court committed reversible plain error.

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