United States District Court, D. Kansas
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
D. CRABTREE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the court on pro se defendant Larry
Johnson's Second Motion to Dismiss Indictment (Doc. 114).
Mr. Johnson also made oral arguments at a hearing on January
7, 2020. The government has responded (Doc. 115). For reasons
discussed below, the court denies Mr. Johnson's motion.
government has charged Mr. Johnson in a three count Second
Superseding Indictment. Doc. 70. Count 1 charges Mr. Johnson
with violating 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(C),
accusing him of knowingly and intentionally possessing
cocaine with intent to distribute. Count 2 charges Mr.
Johnson with violating 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A)(i),
accusing him of knowingly possessing a firearm in furtherance
of a drug trafficking crime. Count 3 charges Mr. Johnson with
violating 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1) and 924(a)(2),
accusing him of knowingly possessing a firearm with knowledge
he had previously been convicted of a crime punishable by
more than one year in prison.
Johnson previously has filed a Motion to Dismiss the
Indictment (Doc. 58) which the court denied (Doc. 90).
Johnson asserts that the court lacks jurisdiction over him
because he did not consent to be tried under admiralty law.
And, because the government cannot “produce the
contract or obligation that [proves he has] consented to be
tried under maritime law in admiralty court, ” the
court lacks subject matter jurisdiction in his
case. Doc. 114 at 1-2. Mr. Johnson asserts that
“[i]t is never too late to challenge subject matter
jurisdiction. It ain't over until the defendant gives
up.” Id. at 2. And so, Mr. Johnson asks the
court to dismiss the Second Superseding Indictment for lack
of jurisdiction, with prejudice.
court is not persuaded. This is just another permutation of
Mr. Johnson's argument in his earlier Motion to Dismiss.
Doc. 58 at 2 (asserting the Second Superseding Indictment was
defective because it failed to reference admiralty
jurisdiction under 18 U.S.C. §§ 7 or 13). Federal
district courts do “have original jurisdiction”
over “any civil case of admiralty or maritime
jurisdiction.” 28 U.S.C. § 1333. But neither
admiralty nor maritime jurisdiction is relevant in this
matter. See, e.g., United States v. Reed,
No. 4:12CR373 AGF (DDN), 2013 WL 11762139, at *4-5 (E.D. Mo.
May 2, 2013) (dismissing defendant's argument that he
could be subject to the court's jurisdiction only if he
had a contract with the United States as “lacking in
merit”); Gilbert v. United States, No.
12-cv-01637-BNB, 2012 WL 3264278, at *2 (D. Colo. Aug. 10,
2012) (dismissing defendant's “challenge to his
criminal conviction based upon admiralty jurisdiction”
as “an indisputably meritless legal theory”
(internal quotation marks omitted)); United States v.
Blackburn, No. 09-20133, 2010 WL 5014449, at *2 (D. Kan.
Dec. 3, 2010) (Lungstrum, J.) (dismissing defendant's
argument that the court lacked jurisdiction over his criminal
case because he had not consented to admiralty jurisdiction
as “largely nonsensical and lacking in merit”).
“admiralty jurisdiction depends upon the nature of the
transaction.” Grant Smith-Porter Ship Co. v.
Rohde, 257 U.S. 469, 476 (1922). And Mr. Johnson's
case does not involve any act or omission allegedly occurring
on “navigable waters” or anything connected to
navigation or commerce. Id. at 475-76. Mr. Johnson
is mistaken about the nature of the court's jurisdiction
in his case.
criminal jurisdiction of the courts of the United States is
derived exclusively from acts of Congress.”
Hudspeth v. Melville, 127 F.2d 373, 375 (10th Cir.
1941) (citing Jones v. United States, 137 U.S. 202
(1890)). Section 3231 of Title 18 of the United States Code
explicitly vests federal district courts with original
jurisdiction over “all offenses against the laws of the
United States.” So, for the court to have jurisdiction
over the crimes charged here, Congress must have proscribed
the criminal offense “explicitly.” Jerome v.
United States, 318 U.S. 101, 105 (1943).
Mr. Johnson is charged with three counts: (1) possession of
“crack” cocaine with intent to distribute, in
violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1); (2) possession of a
firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime in
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A)(i); and (3)
knowing possession of a firearm as a convicted felon, in
violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1), 924(a)(2).
Doc. 70 at 1-3. Congress has proscribed these offenses
841(a) makes it is “unlawful for any person” to
“knowingly or intentionally . . . manufacture,
distribute, or dispense, or possess with intent to
manufacture, distribute, or dispense, a controlled
substance[.]” 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). And §
924(c)(1)(A) makes it unlawful to possess a firearm during
and in relation to any drug trafficking crime “for
which the person may be prosecuted in a court of the United
States.” 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A). Section
922(g)(1) makes it unlawful for a person who was
“convicted in any court of, a crime punishable by
imprisonment for a term exceeding one year” to
“ship or transport” a firearm “in
interstate commerce, ” “possess [a firearm] in or
affecting interstate commerce, ” or
“receive” any firearm or ammunition that was
transported in interstate commerce. 18 U.S.C. §
922(g)(1). The penalties for these offenses also are set
forth in these federal statutes.
credit, Mr. Johnson is correct about one thing: the court
must have subject matter jurisdiction over his case. But,
here, the Second Superseding Indictment clearly charges Mr.
Johnson with violations of federal law. And, thus, the court
has jurisdiction under 18 U.S.C. § 3231. Mr.
Johnson's contention that the court is exercising
admiralty jurisdiction is without merit. So, the court denies
Mr. Johnson's Motion to Dismiss Indictment.
IS THEREFORE ORDERED BY THE COURT THAT Mr.
Johnson's Motion to Dismiss ...