Small V. United States - Prior Legal History - District Court

District Court

On 30 August, 2000, a federal grand jury in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania indicted Small on four counts:

  • one count of making a false statement to a federally licensed firearms dealer;
  • one count of possession of ammunition by a convicted felon; and
  • two counts of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Upon his indictment, Small filed to have the case dismissed, arguing that foreign convictions should not count as a predicate offense under Section 922 because the statement "any court" within the statute was meant for U.S. convictions only. The district court denied the motion.

Small also argued that his Japanese offense should not count because he did not receive certain basic civil rights protections during his trial in Japan. Small requested that the district court hold an evidentiary hearing so that he could testify about the fairness of his conviction in Japan. The government responded that there was no need for an evidentiary hearing because Section 922 addresses the fact of a prior conviction, not the fairness of it. On 16 January 2002, the district court denied the motion because the Japanese Constitution protects similar rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution. (Small argued that, while the same rights are protected in theory, in practice they are abused, citing several specific instances of incidents that would be considered violations of rights protected under the Fourth Amendment and Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution.)

On 14 March, 2002, Small conditionally pled guilty to one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, for which he was sentenced to eight months in jail and three years of supervised release. However, he remains free on bail pending the outcome of his appeals.

Read more about this topic:  Small V. United States, Prior Legal History

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