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United States v. Dorman

United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
860 F.3d 675 (2017)


Facts

The federal government (plaintiff) charged Harold A. Dorman (defendant) with unlawful gun possession in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1), possession with intent to distribute phencyclidine (PCP), in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841, and possessing a gun during a drug-trafficking offense, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1). The trial evidence established that police investigating a jewelry store robbery searched a house owned by Dorman's mother and frequented by many individuals. Dorman usually slept in the house's basement bedroom, and had done so the night before the robbery, but the house was not Dorman's only residence. Dorman was not present when the police entered the house. Upstairs in the living room, the police found a handgun and a one-ounce vial of PCP. Both items were concealed from plain view. Downstairs, the police found a bottle containing more than 15 ounces of PCP next to the laundry-room washing machine, where a passerby might not notice it. The police noticed a handle protruding from the bed in Dorman's bedroom, and found a pistol wedged under the mattress. On the basement steps, hidden under a blanket, the police found a trash bag containing empty vials that could be used for packaging PCP. The police found no direct evidence of the jewelry store robbery. Additional trial evidence connected Dorman to the PCP, but it was equivocal or contradicted by other evidence. The jury convicted Dorman on all charges, and he appealed to the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals. After affirming Dorman's convictions on the gun-possession charge, the court turned its attention to the two drug-related charges.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Rogers, J.)

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