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United States v. Lussier

United States District Court, Eighth Circuit

September 27, 2013

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
Alan James Lussier, Defendant.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

LEO I. BRISBOIS, Magistrate Judge.

This matter came before the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge upon Defendant's Motion to Dismiss. [Docket No. 17]. The case has been referred to the Magistrate Judge for report and recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Local Rule 72.1. The Court held a hearing on September 18, 2013, whereupon both parties argued the motion. For reasons outlined below, the Court recommends that Defendant's Motion to Dismiss, [Docket No. 17], be DENIED.

I. BACKGROUND

Alan James Lussier ("Defendant") is charged with a single count of sexual abuse, to wit, causing another person to engage in a sexual act by placing that person in fear, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2242(1) and 2246(2)(A). (Indictment [Docket No. 1]).[1] Defendant was indicted on July 23, 2013, and subsequently, he brought this Motion to Dismiss, [Docket No. 17], on September 5, 2013.

II. DISCUSSION

Defendant is charged with violating 18 U.S.C. § 2242(1) (the "statute"), which makes it illegal within federal territorial jurisdiction to:

knowingly (1) cause[] another person to engage in a sexual act by threatening or placing that other person in fear (other than by threatening or placing that other person in fear that any person will be subjected to death, serious bodily injury, or kidnapping).

18 U.S.C. § 2242(1).[2]

Defendant argues both that 18 U.S.C. § 2242(1) is unconstitutionally vague, because the statute does not define the word "fear, " which Defendant argues may encompass acts that are not wrongful; and that the statute is unconstitutionally overbroad because it may sweep within its ambit the activities of consenting adults. (Def.'s Mem. Supp. Mot. Dismiss [Docket No. 18] (hereinafter, "Def.'s Mem.").

A. Vagueness

1. Standard of Review

Under the Fifth Amendment's guarantee that every citizen is entitled to due process, "vague statutes are void." United States v. Washam , 312 F.3d 926, 929 (8th Cir. 2002). "[A] statute which either forbids or requires the doing of an act in terms so vague that men of common intelligence must necessarily guess at its meaning and differ as to its application, violates the first essential of due process of law." Connally v. General Construc. Co. , 269 U.S. 385, 391 (1926). The law must provide a "person of ordinary intelligence a reasonable opportunity to know what is prohibited, so that he may act accordingly." Grayned v. City of Rockford , 408 U.S. 104, 108 (1972).

"[V]agueness challenges to statutes which do not involve First Amendment freedoms must be examined in the light of the facts of the case at hand." United States v. Mazurie , 419 U.S. 544, 550 (1975); United States v. Ghane , 673 F.3d 771, 777 (8th Cir. 2012) (same) (quoting Washam , 312 F.3d at 929 (quoting, in turn, Mazurie)). In other words, a defendant generally cannot bring a facial challenge to a statute unless his challenge rests on First Amendment grounds. "In determining whether a statute is unconstitutionally vague on the facts at hand, " the Court applies a two-part test: 1) "the ...


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