The opinion of the court was delivered by: SPORKIN
On February 23, 1988, police stopped Joseph and his younger brother Mayers after they arrived at Union Station in Washington, D.C. on the "night owl" train from New York City. The officers obtained Joseph's consent to search a bag being carried by Mayers. In it, they found 70.55 grams of crack cocaine and a .38 caliber pistol. On June 22, 1988, Joseph was convicted before this Court on several charges, including using or carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 924(c)(1).
The Court of Appeals affirmed Joseph's conviction on December 29, 1989. In doing so, the Court relied specifically on the "carry" prong of 924(c)(1), finding that the evidence "supported circumstantially the conclusion that the defendant knew that the firearm was in the bag, and intended to carry it for the protection of his drug trafficking activity." United States v. Joseph, 282 U.S. App. D.C. 102, 892 F.2d 118, 125-26 (D.C. Cir. 1989).
On December 6, 1995, the Supreme Court in Bailey v. United States, 133 L. Ed. 2d 472, 116 S. Ct. 501 (1995), held that federal courts had been interpreting the meaning of "use" in § 924(c)(1) too broadly. The Supreme Court held that in order for a person to be convicted under the use prong of § 924(c)(1), the government must show "an active employment of the firearm by the defendant." Bailey, 116 S. Ct. at 505. The Court concluded, however, that a defendant who did not "actively employ" a firearm, nevertheless, could be found to have "carried" a firearm. Id. at 509. Accordingly, the Court remanded Bailey to the Court of Appeals to determine if the evidence supported a conviction under the "carry" prong. Id. Defendant-petitioner Joseph now urges this Court to reconsider his conviction in light of Bailey.
In ruling on a § 2255 motion, this Court must re-examine Joseph's conviction in light of any subsequent interpretive changes in the substantive criminal law. See Davis v. United States, 417 U.S. 333, 341-42, 41 L. Ed. 2d 109, 94 S. Ct. 2298 (1974); United States v. McKie, 315 U.S. App. D.C. 367, 73 F.3d 1149, 1151, 1153 (D.C. Cir. 1996). The Court considers both of Joseph's claims in light of this standard and the Supreme Court's recent decision in Bailey.
1. Insufficiency of Evidence to Support Conviction
Joseph's first claim addresses the question of evidentiary sufficiency -- specifically, he claims there was no evidentiary basis for conviction under either the "use" prong or the "carry" prong of § 924(c)(1). The Supreme Court has held that where a jury has two or more bases of conviction, and the evidence on one basis is insufficient, a conviction will nevertheless be upheld if the evidence was sufficient on the alternative basis. Griffin v. United States, 502 U.S. 46, 56, 116 L. Ed. 2d 371, 112 S. Ct. 466 (1991); Turner v. United States, 396 U.S. 398, 24 L. Ed. 2d 610, 90 S. Ct. 642 (1970).
This is true, even though the Court does not know which of the bases premised the jury's conclusion. Id.
Joseph claims that in light of the new narrower definition of "use" found in Bailey, the evidence against him was insufficient for conviction under § 924(c)(1). Review of the Court of Appeals 1989 decision in this case, Joseph, 282 U.S. App. D.C. 102, 892 F.2d 118, makes it clear that defendant-petitioner's contention is without merit. In its decision, the Court of Appeals specifically considered Joseph's challenge on the "carry" prong and found that the evidence was sufficient to uphold Joseph's conviction. Joseph, 892 F.2d at 125-26. That decision is not affected by the Supreme Court's decision in Bailey because Bailey went solely to the definition of "use," and not "carry." Therefore, this Court need not revisit the question of whether the evidence was sufficient to convict on the "carry" prong.
2. Improper Instruction on "Use"
The Supreme Court has distinguished cases where one basis for conviction is later found to be unconstitutional or illegal, rather than merely based on insufficient evidence. Yates v. United States, 354 U.S. 298, 312, 1 L. Ed. 2d 1356, 77 S. Ct. 1064 (1957); Griffin, 502 U.S. 46.
, 116 L. Ed. 2d 371, 112 S. Ct. 466 In such cases, a finding that one basis for conviction was illegal or unconstitutional is grounds for setting aside a verdict, even if the jury could have convicted on an alternate, legal ground. Id. One example of legal insufficiency is presentation to the jury of a "theory of conviction . . . [that] fails to come within the statutory definition of the crime." Griffin, 502 U.S. at 59.
In light of the Supreme Court's decision in Bailey, a jury instruction that defines "use" too broadly would appear to create the type of improper "theory of conviction" envisioned by the Court in Griffin, and thus be grounds for setting aside the verdict. The question this Court must decide, therefore, is whether the instruction given ...