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United States v. Shorty

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

December 20, 2013

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Mala Travon SHORTY, Defendant-Appellant.

Argued and Submitted Nov. 4, 2013.

Page 962

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 963

Lee Tucker, Assistant Federal Public Defender, Tucson, AZ, for Defendant-Appellant.

Dominic Lanza, Assistant United States Attorney, Phoenix, AZ, for Plaintiff-Appellee.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Arizona, Mary H. Murguia, District Judge and G. Murray Snow, District Judge, Presiding.[*] D.C. No. 3:10-cr-08100-GMS-1.

Before: STEPHEN REINHARDT, JOHN T. NOONAN, and PAUL J. WATFORD, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

REINHARDT, Circuit Judge:

Mala Travon Shorty appeals his convictions for aiding and abetting the making of a false statement in connection with the acquisition of a firearm, 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(a)(6) & 924(a)(2), aiding and abetting the making of a false statement concerning information that must be kept by a firearms dealer, 18 U.S.C. § 924(a)(1)(A), and being a felon in possession of a firearm, 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). He raises two issues on appeal. First, he contends that the district court failed to conduct an adequate colloquy before accepting his jury-trial waiver. Second, he contends that there was insufficient evidence to support his convictions on the four aiding and abetting

Page 964

counts. We agree with his first claim, but not his second. We reverse and remand on all counts.

I.

Shorty was arrested in 2010 after federal agents discovered twelve firearms, ammunition, and a gun safe at his home in Flagstaff, Arizona. He was charged with seven felonies and pleaded not guilty to all seven, but waived his right to a jury trial, electing to be tried by the court instead. Before accepting the waiver, the district judge questioned Shorty directly:

Court: You're Mala Travon Shorty?

Defendant: Mala, your Honor.

Court: Mala, thank you. Sorry. Your lawyer, you've just heard the discussion; is that correct?
Defendant: Yes, ma'am.
Court: And I don't know very much about you, Mr. Shorty, but what's your level of education?
Defendant: Graduated high school. But I do have a low I.Q.
Counsel: Judge, he is learning disabled.
Court: Okay. Have you been able to understand all of the proceedings?
Defendant: Yes, I understand everything that's going on.
Court: You heard your lawyer say that you are— tell me that you are wanting and willing to waive your right to ...

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