United States District Court, E.D. California
L. Nunley United States District Judge
matter is before the Court on Defendant Eric Stagno's
(“Defendant”) Appeal from Conviction by a
Magistrate Judge. (ECF No. 71.) Defendant filed his brief on
August 20, 2019. (ECF No. 84.) The Government filed an
answering brief on October 1, 2019. (ECF No. 89.) On November
21, 2019, the Court heard oral argument on the matter. After
carefully considering the parties' arguments and for the
reasons set forth below, the Court AFFIRMS Defendant's
Factual and Procedural Background
case arose from three disturbances caused by Defendant in
August of 2017 at a Department of Veterans Affairs
(“VA”) clinic in Stockton, California. (ECF No.
89 at 4.) On all three occasions, Defendant, a VA patient,
shouted threatening, angry, and insulting words - including
vulgarities and racial slurs - at VA staff and patients.
(Id.) Defendant's conduct escalated during the
third occasion on August 29, 2017, which prompted the
Government to file a criminal complaint on September 1, 2017.
(ECF No. 38 at 3.)
September 7, 2017, the Government filed a two-count
information against Defendant. (ECF No. 10.) Count one
charged Defendant with assaulting, resisting, or impeding
certain officers or employees in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§ 111(a). (Id. at 1.) Count two charged
Defendant with disorderly conduct in violation of 38 U.S.C.
§ 901 and 38 C.F.R. §§ 1.218(a)(5) and
(b)(11). (Id. at 2.) Both counts are misdemeanors.
(Id. at 1-2.)
magistrate court held a three-day jury trial on April 16
through April 18, 2018. On April 18, 2018, the jury returned
a verdict finding Defendant not guilty on count one and
guilty on count two. (ECF No. 60.) The magistrate court
sentenced Defendant to three years of probation and 50 hours
of community service to be completed within the first year of
probation. (ECF No. 70.)
filed a notice of appeal directly with the Ninth Circuit on
June 5, 2018. (ECF No. 71.) On April 15, 2019, Defendant
filed a motion to remand the appeal pursuant to 18 U.S.C.
§ 3402. The Ninth Circuit remanded the appeal to this
Court on July 9, 2019. (ECF No. 80.)
Standard of Review
defendant is entitled to a jury instruction on a defense
theory if the theory has a basis in law and in the
record.” United States v. Hayes, 794 F.2d
1348, 1350 (9th Cir. 1986). “We review de novo
whether an instruction is ‘supported by
law.'” United States v. Anguiano-Morfin,
713 F.3d 1208, 1209 (9th Cir. 2013) (citation omitted).
“We review for an abuse of discretion whether it has
‘some foundation in the evidence.'”
Id. (citation omitted). “The adequacy of the
jury instructions, however, is determined by examining the
instructions as a whole.” Hayes, 794 F.2d at
1350. “[I]t is not error to refuse a proposed
instruction so long as the other instructions in their
entirety cover that theory.” Id. “The
district court has broad discretion in formulating the
instructions and need not give an instruction in the precise
language proposed by the defendant.” Id.
“Imperfectly formulated jury instructions will serve as
a basis for overturning a conviction only upon a showing of
abuse of discretion.” Id.
disorderly conduct regulation at issue is 38 C.F.R. §
1.218(a)(5), which states,
Conduct on [VA] property which creates loud or unusual noise;
which unreasonably obstructs the usual use of entrances,
foyers, lobbies, corridors, offices, elevators, stairways, or
parking lots; which otherwise impedes or disrupts the
performance of official duties by Government employees; which
prevents one from obtaining medical or other services
provided on the property in a timely manner; or the use of
loud, abusive, or otherwise improper language; or unwarranted
loitering, sleeping, or assembly is prohibited.
argues that the magistrate court erred by refusing two of his
proposed jury instructions. The Court will address
Defendant's proposed jury instructions in turn.
Proposed Jury ...