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United States v. Lawrence

Supreme Court of Oregon, En Banc

May 23, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
CHRISTOPHER ROBERT LAWRENCE, Defendant. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
KELLY DAVID ANKENY, SR., Defendant.

          (United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Nos. 1730061, 1735138)

         On certified question from the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit; certification order dated September 18, 2018; certification accepted November 8, 2018; motion to hold in abeyance filed February 8, 2019; considered and under advisement April 23, 2019.

          Elizabeth G. Daily, Assistant Federal Public Defender, Portland, for defendants.

          No appearance contra.

         Case Summary: The Ninth Circuit certified to the Oregon Supreme Court several questions concerning how prior Oregon robbery convictions in two separate cases should be treated for purposes of sentencing under the federal sentencing guidelines and the Armed Career Criminal Act. After the Oregon Supreme Court accepted review, the United States Supreme Court decided a case concerning the same subject. Thereafter, one of the defendants in this case dismissed his appeal, and in the remaining case, both parties requested the Ninth Circuit to withdraw [364 Or. 797] its certified questions to the Oregon court. The Ninth Circuit withdrew its questions relating to the case that had been dismissed, but declined to withdraw its questions relating to the remaining appeal. Held: On its own motion, the Oregon Supreme Court reconsidered its allowance of the certified questions, citing several of the statutory and discretionary factors governing acceptance of certified questions described in Western Helicopter Services, Inc. v. Roberson Aircraft Corp., 311 Or. 361, 811 P.2d 627 (1991), including that one of the certified questions concerned federal law rather than Oregon law, and sufficient guidance was provided by an Oregon Court of Appeals opinion as to the remaining question.

         On reconsideration, the Oregon Supreme Court declines to answer the certified questions.

         [364 Or. 798] WALTERS, C. J.

         In these consolidated cases, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit certified three questions to this court concerning how predicate Oregon convictions for first- and second-degree robbery should be treated for certain issues that arise under federal sentencing law. Those questions were:

"1. Is Oregon first-degree robbery, [ORS] 164.415, divisible?[1]
"2. Is Oregon second-degree robbery, [ORS] 164.405, divisible?[2]
"3. Put another way, is jury unanimity (or concurrence) required as to a particular theory chosen from the listed subparagraphs of each statute?"

         This court accepted certification by order in November 2018. In January 2019, the United States Supreme Court decided Stokeling v. United States, 586 U.S. ___, 139 S.Ct. 544, 202 L.Ed. 3d 512 (2019), which concerned a similar issue involving how to treat a predicate Florida robbery for federal sentencing purposes. Thereafter, defendant Lawrence successfully moved to dismiss his appeal in the Ninth Circuit, and the Ninth Circuit accordingly modified its certification order to the extent that its questions concerned defendant Lawrence's case, leaving only the Ankeny case and the second question and one aspect of the third question before us. On our own motion, we have re-evaluated the questions presented in [364 Or. 799] light of the above-described developments. On reconsideration, we decline certification of the remaining questions, for several reasons.

         Before turning to our reasoning, we give a brief description of the underlying issues. In the Lawrence case, defendant raised an issue on appeal in the Ninth Circuit concerning whether the district court had correctly calculated his sentence, under the federal sentencing guidelines, when it determined that Lawrence's prior Oregon conviction for first-degree robbery constituted a "crime of violence" as defined by United States Sentencing Guidelines section 4B1.2(a). In the Ankeny case, defendant was sentenced under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), based in part on the district court's conclusion that his prior Oregon conviction for second-degree robbery was a "violent felony" under 18 USC section 924(e), and defendant appealed to the Ninth Circuit, raising an issue concerning the use of the prior Oregon conviction.

         The Ninth Circuit, in its certification to this court, explained that, to determine whether a defendant's prior conviction is a "crime of violence" under the federal sentencing guidelines or a "violent felony" under the ACCA, the court must first look to whether the elements of the Oregon offenses sufficiently match the elements of the "generic" crime of robbery. If a statute criminalizes a broader range of conduct than the "generic" crime, it is deemed "overbroad." And if a statute is deemed "overbroad," then the court next asks whether the statute is "divisible," that is, whether it contains multiple alternative elements that are functionally separate crimes, which is determined by assessing whether a jury must concur as to which alternative has been proved. If the statute is "divisible," then the court then must determine which alternative was proved to the jury; if that alternative falls within the "generic" crime, then the conviction may qualify as a "crime of violence" or a "violent felony" under the federal sentencing guidelines or the ACCA. The Ninth Circuit further explained that defendant Lawrence was arguing on appeal that Oregon's first-degree robbery statute was not divisible. It added in a footnote that the parties in the Ankeny case "concede that Robbery II is divisible" but "offer no substantive discussion" on ...


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