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United States v. Dixon

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit

May 22, 2015

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Appellee,
v.
SAMUEL DIXON, Defendant, Appellant

As Amended June 2, 2015.

APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF MASSACHUSETTS. Hon. Joseph L. Tauro, U.S. District Judge.

Judith H. Mizner, Assistant Federal Public Defender, for appellant.

Crystal S. Yang, Special Assistant United States Attorney, with whom Carmen M. Ortiz, United States Attorney, was on brief, for appellee.

Before Lynch, Chief Judge, Stahl and Howard, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 56

HOWARD, Circuit Judge.

Defendant Samuel Dixon was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) after police executed a search

Page 57

warrant for his apartment and found a pistol and eight rounds of ammunition. Dixon appeals his conviction on several bases. First, he argues that the affidavit used to support the search of his person and apartment was insufficient to establish probable cause and so the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress. Second, he argues that his conviction violates the Commerce Clause because the government did not prove the interstate commerce element of the felon-in-possession charge and so the court erred in denying his motion for judgment of acquittal. Third, he argues that the district court's jury instructions concerning the interstate commerce element were erroneous. We find no merit in his arguments and affirm.

I.

On February 11, 2011, Boston Police Detective Michael Ross filed an affidavit in support of two search warrants: one for Dixon's person and one for 12 York Street, Apartment 1 in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston. The affidavit first recounted Detective Ross's extensive experience with drug investigations, then detailed his investigation into a suspected drug trafficking scheme in the Dorchester/Roxbury area.

The affidavit noted that Ross had received information from a confidential informant (CI) " [w]ithin the last few months" that a black male with short hair who was approximately forty years old, six feet tall, and 200 pounds was selling crack cocaine in that area. The CI had purchased crack cocaine from that man in the past. The CI provided Ross with the phone number he had used to contact the suspect and purchase drugs. The CI also told Ross that the suspect drove a red Ford SUV.

The affidavit stated that this CI had provided Ross's unit with " reliable information in the past that ha[d] led to the arrests and convictions of individual(s) for violation of the drug laws and also the seizure of drug(s), money, firearm(s) and ammunition." Ross explained that he had intentionally excluded details about those prior investigations from the affidavit in order to protect the CI from ...


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