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United States v. Janis

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

January 15, 2016

United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee
v.
Justin Janis, Defendant - Appellant

Submitted October 23, 2015.

Appeal from United States District Court for the District of South Dakota - Rapid City.

For United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee: Eric D. Kelderman, Assistant U.S. Attorney, Kathryn Nicole Rich, Assistant U.S. Attorney, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Rapid City, SD.

For Justin Janis, Defendant - Appellant: Stephen Daniel Demik, Assistant Federal Public Defender, Neil Fulton, Federal Public Defender, FEDERAL PUBLIC DEFENDER'S OFFICE, Rapid City, SD.

Justin Janis, Defendant - Appellant, Pro se, Interior, SD.

Before WOLLMAN, BYE, and GRUENDER, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 596

GRUENDER, Circuit Judge.

Justin Janis was convicted of assault of a federal officer, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 111, following an altercation with Ann Mousseau, an officer of the Oglala Sioux Tribe (" OST" ) Department of Public Safety. He appeals his conviction, arguing that the district court[1] (1) erred in ruling that OST public safety officers such as Mousseau are federal officers under 18 U.S.C. § 111, and (2) erred in instructing the jury that Mousseau was a federal officer at the time of the encounter with Janis. We affirm.

I.

On November 27, 2013, Officer Mousseau responded to a report that individuals, including Janis, were consuming alcohol at a home on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation near Kyle, South Dakota. At the time, tribal law prohibited alcohol consumption on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Mousseau arrived at the residence and attempted to open the door, but Janis was pushing against the door to hold it shut. When Mousseau finally was able to open the door, Janis pushed her on the shoulder and then hit her, striking her on the neck. Mousseau deployed her taser, but it did not incapacitate Janis, who repeatedly attempted to kick Mousseau. Mousseau ultimately gained control over Janis and placed him under arrest.

An indictment charged Janis with one count of assault of a federal officer, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 111. Prior to trial, Janis moved to dismiss the indictment. He argued that the district court lacked jurisdiction over the case because Officer Mousseau was not acting as a federal officer at the time of the alleged offense. The district court denied the motion. The court found that the OST Department of Public Safety operated pursuant to a contract between the department and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (" BIA" ), which under 25 U.S.C. § 2802 has responsibility over the provision of law enforcement services in Indian country. Citing our decisions in United States v. Schrader, 10 F.3d 1345 (8th Cir. 1993) and United States v. Bettelyoun, 16 F.3d 850 (8th Cir. 1994), the court recognized that law enforcement officers employed under such contracts are considered federal officers while they are engaged in the performance of their official duties, regardless of whether those duties involved the enforcement of federal or tribal law. The court ruled as a matter of law that the contract between the BIA and the OST represented a proper delegation

Page 597

of law enforcement authority and that Mousseau was employed pursuant to that contract. The court further found that whether Mousseau was acting in her official capacity at the time of the alleged assault was a jury question. Prior to trial, however, Janis and the Government signed a stipulation that " at the time of the act alleged in the Indictment, Ann Mousseau was employed by the Oglala Sioux Tribe as an ...


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