Supreme Court Review 2016/2017 TERM
SUNDAY, JULY 23, 2017

Issue:  Uncounseled Tribal-court Convictions As Predicate-Offense

United States v. Bryant



Section 117(a) of Title 18, United States Code, makes it a federal crime for any person to “commit[] a domestic assault within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States or Indian country” if the person “has a final conviction on at least 2 separate prior occasions in Federal, State, or Indian tribal court proceedings for” enumerated domesticviolence offenses. 18 U.S.C. 117(a).

The question presented is whether reliance on valid uncounseled tribal-court misdemeanor convictions to prove Section 117(a)’s predicate-offense element violates the Constitution.


Decided June 13, 2016 HOLDING

Because Bryant’s tribal-court convictions occurred in proceedings that complied with ICRA and were therefore valid when entered, use of those convictions as predicate offenses in a §117(a) prosecution does not violate the Constitution.

Agree image Justice Sotomayor
Agree Sotomayor
Agree image Justice Breyer
Agree Breyer
Agree Concur image Justice Thomas
Agree Concur Thomas
Recused image Justice Scalia
Recused Scalia
Agree image Chief Justice Roberts
Agree Roberts
Agree image Justice Kennedy
Agree Kennedy
Author image Justice Ginsburg
Author Ginsburg
Agree image Justice Alito
Agree Alito
Agree image Justice Kagan
Agree Kagan

GINSBURG, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court. THOMAS, J., filed a concurring opinion.

Text of Opinion
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United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
Decided September 30, 2014
pdf download