LEVI M. RUFFIN, APPELLANT,
UNITED STATES, APPELLEE
January 28, 2016.
from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.
(CF3-10563-10). (Hon. Michael L. Rankin, Trial Judge).
L. Light was on the brief, for appellant.
H. Cohen, Jr., Acting United States Attorney at the time the
brief was filed, and Elizabeth Trosman, Chrisellen R. Kolb,
and Ryan M. Malone, Assistant United States Attorneys, were
on the brief, for appellee.
GLICKMAN and BLACKBURNE-RIGSBY, Associate Judges; and
FARRELL, Senior Judge.
case was submitted to the court on the transcript of record
and the briefs filed, and without presentation of oral
argument. On consideration whereof, and for the reasons set
forth in the opinion filed this date, it is now hereby
and ADJUDGED that the matter is remanded to direct the trial
court to order the return of the appellant's money that
he paid into the Violent Victims Act Fund (" VVC" )
as part of his sentence for his now-reversed convictions.
April 14, 2016.
Associate Judge : We reversed appellant Levi
Ruffin's convictions of misdemeanor assault on a police
officer (" APO" ) and felony threats (directed at a
police car) because of insufficient evidence. See
Ruffin v. United States, 76 A.3d 845, 847-48 (D.C.
2013) (" Ruffin I "
). Following our decision, Mr. Ruffin
moved the trial court to seal his arrest records,
see D.C. Code § 16-802 (2012 Repl.), issue a
certificate of innocence, see D.C. Code § 2-422
(2012 Repl.) and 28 U.S.C. § 2513 (2004 Supp.), and
return the $250 that he was required to pay into the Violent
Victims Act Fund (" VVC Fund" ) for his
now-reversed convictions. The trial court granted the motion
in part, sealing the arrest records of Mr. Ruffin's
overturned convictions except for the burglary charge on
which the jury had acquitted, see supra note 1, but
denying his requests for a certificate of innocence and to
return his $250.
appeal, Mr. Ruffin primarily argues that the trial court
erred in concluding that it lacked jurisdiction to issue a
certificate of innocence and demands a remand. He also renews
his request for the return of the $250 that he paid into the
VVC Fund. While we agree with Mr. Ruffin that
the trial court has the authority to issue a certificate of
innocence, we nonetheless affirm the trial court's
decision on the alternative ground that the existing record
conclusively shows that Mr. Ruffin was not entitled to such
relief. We conclude that Mr. Ruffin is not entitled to a
certificate of innocence under either D.C. Code § 2-422
or 28 U.S.C. § 2513 because he cannot demonstrate that
he did not " by his misconduct, cause or bring about his
own prosecution." D.C. Code § 2-422. However, we
agree that Mr. Ruffin is entitled to reimbursement from the
VVC Fund, and we remand for the
trial court to order the return of Mr. Ruffin's
facts of this case are explained in greater detail in
Ruffin I. Essentially, on June 12, 2010, at
approximately 5:00 a.m., the police responded to a 911 call
about a possible burglary after a stranger was seen reaching
his hand into the window of an apartment. Arriving four
minutes later, Officer Carlos Amaya observed Mr. Ruffin, who
was by himself in the alley behind the apartment building,
hop over a short retaining wall and suspiciously look over
his shoulder towards a police car entering the alley from the
opposite side. Because Mr. Ruffin was so focused on the
police car, he did not notice Officer Amaya and bumped into
him. When Officer Amaya placed his hand on Mr. Ruffin's
shoulder, Mr. Ruffin instinctively brushed his hand away,
which culminated in Mr. Ruffin's arrest for, inter
alia, burglary and APO, and later felony threats
(directed at a police car) for threatening to " kick the
windows out" of the police car in which he was being
transported. The jury ultimately convicted Mr. Ruffin of APO
(brushing Officer Amaya's hand off his shoulder) and
felony threats (to kick the windows out of the police car),
but it acquitted him of the first-degree burglary charge.
direct appeal, we reversed Mr. Ruffin's APO and felony
threats (directed at a police car) convictions. Specifically,
we held that Mr. Ruffin's " ephemeral elbow jerk in
response to a police officer reaching towards his shoulder
did not amount to 'resisting' a police officer"
as necessary for an APO conviction. Ruffin I, supra,
76 A.3d at 851. We also held that the felony threats statute
did not criminalize threats directed against property owned
by the District of Columbia government. Id. at 859.
our decision, Mr. Ruffin filed a motion for the trial court
to seal his arrest records, issue him a certificate of
innocence under D.C. Code § 2-422 and 28 U.S.C. §
2513, and return the $250 that he paid into the VVC Fund.
Without waiting for a response from the government, the trial
court granted the motion in part and denied it in part. With
regard to the arrest records, the trial court concluded that
Mr. Ruffin was entitled to have the arrest records for his
overturned convictions sealed based on Ruffin
I. However, the trial court did not seal
Mr. Ruffin's arrest record for burglary, even though the
jury had acquitted him of that charge at trial. The court
concluded that the fact that Mr. Ruffin was acquitted does