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United States v. Jayavarman

United States District Court, D. Alaska

April 12, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
JASON JAYAVARMAN, Defendant.

          ORDER RE PENDING MOTIONS

          SHARON L. GLEASON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is Defendant Jason Jayavarman's Motion for a New Trial at Docket 264 and Motion to Set Aside Count 1B Conviction and to Dismiss and to Bar Further Prosecution at Docket 265. The Government responded to both motions at Docket 280.

         BACKGROUND

         On March 23, 2015, a jury found Mr. Jayavarman guilty on Count 1B for attempted sexual exploitation of a child, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2251(c) and (e), and Count 2B for attempting to aid and abet another person's travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2423(b) and (e).[1] On March 29, 2016, the Court entered a final judgment, sentencing Mr. Jayavarman to “216 months on Counts 1[B] and 2[B] of the Superseding Indictment, ” to be served concurrently, followed by a lifetime of supervised release.[2]

         Mr. Jayavarman appealed the final judgment to the Ninth Circuit.[3] On appeal, Mr. Jayavarman asserted that Count 2B should be vacated because 18 U.S.C. § 2423 does not include attempt to aid and abet. The Government conceded this point. The Ninth Circuit accepted this concession and vacated Mr. Jayavarman's conviction and sentence as to Count 2B.[4]

         Mr. Jayavarman also raised a number of challenges as to Count 1B on appeal. He argued an attempted violation of § 2251(c) requires the victim to actually be a minor and that a conviction based on his belief that the victim was a minor violated the Foreign Commerce Clause and the First Amendment.[5] He further asserted that there was insufficient evidence to establish that he believed the victim was a minor and that the record was inconclusive as to whether the district court had fully reviewed certain exhibits before admitting them into evidence. Lastly, he maintained that the district court erred in finding that he did not need an interpreter. The Circuit considered but rejected each of these arguments. It affirmed the conviction on Count 1B and concluded: “[i]n addition to vacating Jayavarman's conviction and sentence as to Count 2B, we also vacate his sentence as to Count 1B and remand for resentencing because Jayavarman's sentence as to Count 1B was likely affected by his conviction as to Count 2B.”[6]

         On remand to this Court, Mr. Jayavarman moves for a new trial at Docket 264, arguing the evidence presented to the jury as to Count 2B was so prejudicial to him that a new trial is necessary as to Count 1B. He also asserts that his 1B conviction should be set aside for several reasons listed below.

         DISCUSSION

         1. Motion for a New Trial

         Mr. Jayavarman asserts in his Motion for a New Trial that “[h]ighly inflammatory evidence was admitted at trial as to Count 2, which was not relevant to Count 1 and/or should be excluded under Evidence Rule 403.”[7] The Government responds that this Court's authority on remand does not extend to ordering a new trial on Count 1B because the Ninth Circuit has affirmed the conviction on Count 1B and remanded that count only for resentencing.[8]

         “It is well-settled that the mandate of an appellate court ‘is controlling as to matters within its compass.'”[9] “[U]pon receiving the mandate of an appellate court, [the district court] cannot vary it or examine it for any other purpose than execution.”[10] “A district court is limited by [the appellate court's] remand when the scope of the remand is clear.”[11]

         In this case, the Ninth Circuit held as follows:

In addition to vacating Jayavarman's conviction and sentence as to Count 2B, we also vacate his sentence as to Count 1B and remand for resentencing because Jayavarman's sentence as to Count 1B was ...

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