The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in United States v. Hoyle on Tuesday, May 13, 2014.
Defendant Hoyle appealed from the remand proceedings of his prior appeal (see United States v. Hoyle, 697 F.3d 1158 (10th Cir. 2012), affirming Hoyle’s conviction but remanding for resentencing). Hoyle appealed again, challenging the district court’s denial of his motion for a new trial on remand and consideration of prior state convictions at resentencing. Hoyle’s conviction stemmed from an incident where he pointed a gun at a woman, Ms. Hall, and threatened to shoot. Ms. Hall called 911, and Hoyle was subsequently arrested and charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm. On appeal, the Tenth Circuit determined that Hoyle’s two felony convictions from 1994 did not qualify as predicate convictions for purposes of the Armed Career Criminal Act because his civil rights had been restored under Kansas law. The Tenth Circuit accordingly remanded for resentencing. In preparation for resentencing, the probation officer prepared a presentence investigation report (PSR) and took into account the two prior felony convictions in order to arrive at a base level and criminal history category. Hoyle objected, arguing that because his civil rights had been restored, his prior criminal activity could not be used to arrive at his base level or criminal history category. The district court adopted the PSR and sentenced Hoyle to 120 months’ imprisonment followed by three years’ supervised release.
Hoyle appealed the use of the prior convictions in calculating his sentence to the Tenth Circuit and also asserted two new points of error: he claimed that the district court erred by denying him a new trial due to Brady violations and by finding that he possessed the weapon in connection with the Kansas felony “criminal threat.” The Tenth Circuit rejected Hoyle’s assertions of Brady violations and determined that the district court properly denied Hoyle’s motion for a new trial. As to Hoyle’s argument that the prior convictions could not be used in calculating his sentence under the Sentencing Guidelines, the Tenth Circuit disagreed, noting that “Unless Congress has specifically directed otherwise, there is no conflict between exempting certain conduct from criminal liability under a statute and not exempting that same conduct from sentencing consideration,” because the provisions serve different purposes. Finally, the Tenth Circuit found that there was sufficient evidence to support the four-level offense increase for possession of the weapon in connection with felony criminal threat. Hoyle contended that Ms. Hall’s testimony was not credible because she had a prior misdemeanor conviction; however, the district court found that Ms. Hall’s prior conviction did not undermine her credibility. The Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court.