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United States v. James

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
169 F.3d 1210 (1999)

United States v. James


Ernestine James’s (defendant) boyfriend, David Ogden, was a violent drunk. Ogden physically and sexually abused James, and James witnessed Ogden threaten and fight others. Ogden boasted of assaults and even killing a man. James’s daughter, Jaylene, fought with Ogden a few times, but Ogden did not fight back. Ogden despised Jaylene’s boyfriend, Michas Tiatano. At a party, Ogden knocked Tiatano out. Jaylene became angry and chased Ogden. Jaylene testified that, without her asking, James gave her a gun and told her how to take off the safety. Jaylene shot and killed Ogden. Jaylene also testified that she was not afraid of Ogden at the time. James was charged with aiding and abetting manslaughter. James testified that Jaylene asked her for the gun repeatedly and that she believed that Jaylene would use it to “fend [Ogden] off.” James argued that she knew Ogden was drunk, prone to violence, and likely armed. Thus, James claimed she acted in self-defense. The trial judge allowed James and Jaylene to testify about Ogden’s history of violence, but would not admit corroborating police reports and court documents because James had not seen them at the time of the crime. During deliberations, the jury sent out various questions to the judge asking whether Ogden had actually committed various violent acts or was merely bragging. The judge declined to answer. James was found guilty and sentenced to five years in prison. James appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which affirmed. The circuit judges agreed to rehear the case en banc.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Noonan, J.)

Dissent (Kleinfeld, J.)

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