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Tenth Circuit Affirms Kiowa Cockfighter Conviction January 12, 2008

Posted by rezjudicata in 10th Circuit, Federal Circuits.
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United States v. Gachot, No. 07-6061 (10th Cir. Jan. 10, 2008)

Issue(s): Federal Jurisdiction > Criminal Law >> Indian Country; Federal Jurisdiction > Mootness >> Dismissed Indictment

On appeal, defendants may only challenge the specific charge that led to a specific conviction. A federal grand jury indicted Gachot for his involvement in a cockfighting ring located in Indian country. After the district court denied his jurisdictional challenges, Gachot reached a plea agreement with the government. In exchange for his guilty plea, the government dismissed the original indictments and substituted a one count information alleging violations of a federal gaming law. Can Gachot challenge the district court’s jurisdiction over the original indictments on appeal? If not, did the district court lack jurisdiction over the one count information?

The Tenth Circuit said no. The original indictments alleged violations of state law, which the federal government claimed it could enforce under the Indian Country Crimes Act and the Assimilative Crimes Act. Even though these indictments originally brought Gachot within the district court’s clutches, Gachot was not convicted for these crimes. Gachot pleaded guilty to a different crime covered by a different statute. Thus, Gachot’s jurisdictional attack on the original indictments was moot.

The Court also upheld the district court’s jurisdiction over the one count information. The Court reasoned that because the illegal gaming statute applied generally, it also applied to Indian country. Therefore, the district court had jurisdiction over the guilty plea and the Circuit Court affirmed Gachot’s conviction.

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