United States v. Bekir Buluc

Case: 17-20694 Document: 00515026218 Page: 1 Date Filed: 07/09/2019 IN THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT United States Court of Appeals Fifth Circuit FILED No. 17-20694 July 9, 2019 Lyle W. Cayce UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Clerk Plaintiff - Appellee v. BEKIR BULUC, also known as Celebi Buluc, also known as Bekir Celibi, Defendant - Appellant Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas Before CLEMENT, DUNCAN, and OLDHAM, Circuit Judges. STUART KYLE DUNCAN, Circuit Judge: A jury convicted Turkish national Bekir Buluc under 8 U.S.C. § 1253(a)(1)(C) for “tak[ing] . . . action” that was “designed to prevent or hamper” his removal from the United States. While immigration officers were escorting Buluc onto a commercial flight to Turkey, Buluc announced he would not board the plane and vigorously resisted the officers’ attempts to carry him aboard. Airline personnel, witnessing the fracas, barred Buluc’s boarding. At trial, Buluc claimed that the subsection under which he was prosecuted requires “joint” action. Invoking the canons of construction ejusdem generis and noscitur a sociis, Buluc argued that the meaning of “takes action” in § 1253(a)(1)(C) is colored by the nearby verbs “connives” and “conspires,” which Case: 17-20694 Document: 00515026218 Page: 2 Date Filed: 07/09/2019 No. 17-20694 connote joint action. Id. (penalizing an alien who “connives or conspires, or takes any other action, designed to prevent or hamper . . . [his] departure pursuant to [a final order of removal]”). Buluc therefore moved for acquittal because there was no evidence that he acted with anyone else to prevent his removal. Buluc also objected on Confrontation Clause grounds to the officers’ testimony that airline personnel denied him boarding after witnessing his tantrum. The district court disagreed with Buluc on both points. On appeal, Buluc again wheels out the statutory canons to cabin the phrase “takes any other action” to joint action. We are unpersuaded. The relevant phrase—“connives or conspires, or takes any other action”—contains none of the contextual fuses that trigger those canons. Instead, the phrase’s structure conveys that “takes any other action” has independent meaning, which easily encompasses Buluc’s solo efforts to thwart his removal. We also disagree with Buluc’s Confrontation Clause arguments. The officers’ testimony that airline personnel denied Buluc boarding did not implicate the Confrontation Clause. Even if it did, any error was harmless. We affirm. I. Pursuant to a final order of removal, the United States attempted to deport Buluc via a commercial flight to Turkey on October 4, 2016. Since Buluc had “caused problems” during his four previous removals, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) arranged for extra help. Several ICE officers, including Richard Rawls (“Officer Rawls”) and Michael Nugent (“Officer Nugent”), escorted Buluc to the Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, Texas. En route, Buluc warned officers that he intended to resist. He told them: “I am not going to get on that flight.” He also stated: “You can’t use force putting me on a commercial flight. You are going to have ...

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