In United States v. Shamsid-Deen, No. 20-11877 (Mar. 6, 2023) (Jill Pryor, Branch, Ed Carnes), the Court, on a government appeal, reversed the district court’s order granting the defendant’s motion to suppress.
The defendant was prosecuted under 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(9) for possessing a firearm after having previously been convicted of a “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.” By statute, a prior conviction does not qualify as a “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence” where the defendant did not knowingly waive his right to a jury trial. In this case, the district court found that exception applied and therefore granted the defendant’s motion to suppress evidence of his prior Georgia battery conviction. The government appealed and the Eleventh Circuit reversed. Since the district court’s ruling implicated the validity of a waiver of a constitutional right, and it involved a mixed question of law and fact, the Court reviewed the district court’s waiver ruling de novo, not for abuse of discretion. The Court also determined that the defendant bore the burden of production and persuasion to show that the waiver was not knowing and voluntary, since that issue was a statutory exception that did not negate an element of the offense. Finally, the Court concluded that the defendant failed to establish that he did not knowingly and voluntarily waive his right to a jury trial in Georgia based on the language of forms he signed and a transcript of the proceedings.
Judge Jill Pryor concurred only in the judgment, without issuing a written opinion.