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United States v. Rodriguez-Moreno

United States Supreme Court
526 U.S. 275 (1999)


Facts

A Texas drug distributor hired Rodriguez-Moreno (Rodriguez, defendant) to find a New York drug dealer who stole the distributor’s cocaine. Rodriguez held the drug dealer’s middleman, Avendano, hostage during his search for the dealer. Rodriguez drove with Avendano and other employees of the Texas distributor from Texas to New Jersey and stayed in Avendano’s New Jersey apartment for a few days. He then went, with Avendano as his captive, to New York for a while and then to a house in Maryland. In Maryland, Rodriguez was given a pistol. Rodriguez pointed the pistol at Avendano’s neck at one point but did not shoot. Avendano escaped and called police. Rodriguez and the others were arrested. The police found the pistol with Rodriguez’s fingerprint on it. Rodriguez was charged in a New Jersey court with conspiracy, kidnapping, and violating 18 U.S.C. §924(c)(1) which prohibits using or carrying a firearm during and in relation to any crime of violence. Rodriguez moved to dismiss the §924(c)(1) charge and argued that venue was improper in the New Jersey court because the government had only proven that Rodriguez used the gun in Maryland. The court denied his motion and Rodriguez was convicted of kidnaping and the violating §924(c)(1). The appellate court reversed Rodriguez’s §924(c)(1) conviction and held that New Jersey was an improper venue. The court applied the verb test and held a defendant only violated the §924(c)(1) in the district where he used or carried a gun. The government petitioned the Supreme Court and the Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Thomas, J.)

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Dissent (Scalia, J.)

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