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United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit.

UNITED STATES of America, Appellee, v. Deshawn LEGRIER, Defendant-Appellant.


Decided: July 09, 2020

PRESENT: JON O. NEWMAN DENNIS JACOBS,* Circuit Judges. FOR APPELLANT: GWEN M. SCHOENFELD, Law Office of Gwen M. Schoenfeld, LLC, Ridgewood, NJ. FOR APPELLEE: HAGAN SCOTTEN (with Won S. Shin on the brief), for Audrey Strauss, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, New York, NY.


On May 15, 2019, this Court affirmed the judgment of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Abrams, J.) sentencing defendant Deshawn Legrier to 120 months’ imprisonment on one count of possession of a firearm having previously been convicted of a felony, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g). See United States v. Legrier, 768 F. App'x 48, 48-50 (2019). In doing so, we rejected Legrier's claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. Id.

Subsequently, the Supreme Court decided Rehaif v. United States, ––– U.S. ––––, 139 S. Ct. 2191, 204 L.Ed.2d 594 (2019), holding that in a § 922(g) prosecution “the Government must prove both that the defendant knew he possessed a firearm and that he knew he belonged to the relevant category of persons barred from possessing a firearm.” Id. at 2200. As a result, Legrier filed a petition for a writ of certiorari requesting vacatur of his conviction and remand because the indictment failed to allege the statutory knowledge element and was jurisdictionally defective. The Supreme Court granted the petition, vacated our judgment, and remanded for further consideration in light of Rehaif. However, this Court's decision in United States v. Balde, 943 F.3d 73, 88-93 (2d Cir. 2019), forecloses Legrier's jurisdictional defect argument.

Legrier now argues his conviction should be vacated based on an erroneous jury instruction and insufficient evidence at trial to support his conviction. The district court instructed the jury that “[t]he Government need not prove that the defendant knew that his conviction was punishable by a term of imprisonment exceeding one year,” which is incorrect under Rehaif. Legrier did not object to this instruction at trial; therefore, the plain error standard applies. See Balde, 943 F.3d at 95-96.

“Under the plain error standard, an appellant must demonstrate that (1) there is an error; (2) the error is clear or obvious, rather than subject to reasonable dispute; (3) the error affected the appellant's substantial rights; and (4) the error seriously affects the fairness, integrity or public reputation of judicial proceedings.” Id. at 96 (quoting United States v. Bastian, 770 F.3d 212, 219-20 (2d Cir. 2014)) (internal quotation marks omitted). As the parties agree, the first two requirements are satisfied. However, the error did not seriously affect the fairness of the judicial proceedings, let alone the integrity or public reputation of the judicial proceedings. That is because Legrier testified at trial that he had been convicted of two felonies prior to the date of the charged crime, and because he served over a year in prison on at least one of the convictions. Therefore, Legrier's challenge fails under the plain error standard.

* * * *

For the foregoing reasons, the judgment of the District Court is hereby affirmed.

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Docket No: 16-2839

Decided: July 09, 2020

Court: United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit.

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