United States v. Jacqueline Anderson

FOR PUBLICATION UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, No. 20-50207 Plaintiff-Appellee, D.C. Nos. v. 2:19-cr-00157-CJC-1 2:19-cr-00157-CJC JACQUELINE ANDERSON, Defendant-Appellant. OPINION Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of California Cormac J. Carney, District Judge, Presiding Argued and Submitted December 8, 2021 Pasadena, California Filed August 25, 2022 Before: William A. Fletcher, Johnnie B. Rawlinson, and John B. Owens, Circuit Judges. Opinion by Judge Rawlinson; Dissent by Judge W. Fletcher 2 UNITED STATES V. ANDERSON SUMMARY* Criminal Law The panel affirmed Jacqueline Anderson’s jury conviction for threatening a person assisting federal officers and employees in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 115(a)(1)(B). Anderson threatened to kill a Protective Security Officer while he was on duty at the Long Beach Social Security Office. The PSO was an employee of a private company that had been contracted by the Federal Protective Service to “provide security services at government-owned and leased properties.” Section 115(a)(1)(B) prohibits threats against “a United States official, a United States judge, a Federal law enforcement officer, or an official whose killing would be a crime under section 1114 of this title.” 18 U.S.C. § 1114 prohibits killing or attempting to kill “any officer or employee of the United States or of any agency in any branch of the United States Government . . . while such officer or employee is engaged in or on account of the performance of official duties, or any person assisting such an officer or employee in the performance of such duties.” Agreeing with the Third and Eighth Circuits, the panel held that the plain language of § 115(a)(1)(B) includes all persons described in § 1114. The panel rejected Anderson’s argument that the word “official” was a “term of limitation” * This summary constitutes no part of the opinion of the court. It has been prepared by court staff for the convenience of the reader. UNITED STATES V. ANDERSON 3 intended to protect only those “officials” designated in § 1114. The panel held that, because, under § 1114, the PSO was assisting with official duties, Anderson’s conduct violated § 115, and the district court properly denied her motion for a judgment of acquittal. Dissenting, Judge W. Fletcher wrote that § 115(a)(1)(B) clearly did not support Anderson’s conviction because the PSO was not an “official.” Judge W. Fletcher wrote that the restrictive clause of § 115(a)(1)(B) indicates that the target of the threat must not only be a federal official, but must also be a federal official whose killing would be a crime under § 1114. Put differently, § 115(a)(1)(B) protects federal officials, but only the subset of federal officials whose killing would be a crime under § 1114. Judge W. Fletcher wrote that the Third and Eighth Circuit cases addressed a different question and did not support the majority’s statutory reading. Judge W. Fletcher wrote that the PSO, the target of Anderson’s threat, was not a federal official, but rather was a “person assisting . . …

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