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United States v. Seminole

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

July 31, 2017

United States of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Leon Seminole, Defendant-Appellant.

          Argued and Submitted July 10, 2017 Portland, Oregon

         Appeal from the United States District Court No. 1:15-cr-00062-SPW-1 for the District of Montana Susan P. Watters, District Judge, Presiding

          Robert L. Kelleher (argued), Kelleher Law Office, Billings, Montana, for Defendant-Appellant.

          Bryan Timothy Dake (argued), Assistant United States Attorney, United States Attorney's Office, Great Falls, Montana, for Plaintiff-Appellee.

          Before: Paul J. Watford and John B. Owens, Circuit Judges, and Vince G. Chhabria, [*] District Judge.

         SUMMARY[**]

         Criminal Law

         The panel affirmed the defendant's convictions for strangling and assaulting his wife, in a case in which the district court compelled the defendant's wife to testify against him.

         The panel rejected the defendant's argument that the Supreme Court in Trammel v. United States, 445 U.S. 40 (1980), effectively overruled the holding in Wyatt v. United States, 362 U.S. 525 (1960), that a court can compel a witness to testify against her spouse when she is the victim of the crime.

          OPINION

          OWENS, Circuit Judge.

         Defendant-Appellant Leon Seminole ("Seminole"), an enrolled member of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, appeals from his jury trial convictions for strangling and assaulting his wife in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 113(a)(8) and 113(a)(7). He contends that the trial court erred by compelling his wife - the domestic violence victim - to testify against him. The trial court did not err, so we affirm.

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         A. The Strangulation and Assault

         Seminole and his common-law wife Maxine Limberhand ("Limberhand") had a history of problems, and by August 2014, Limberhand needed a change - she planned on moving out of their house. On August 17, 2014, Limberhand drove with her brother Enoch and his ...


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