Tenth Circuit Affirms Conviction of Ute Juveniles for Church Burning

Here is the opinion in U.S. v. Doe. An excerpt:

Defendants’ appeals center on the definition of “person” in 18 U.S.C. § 1153(a)’s phrase: “Any Indian who commits against the person or property of another Indian or other person any of the following offenses ….“ (emphasis added). First, defendants argue that context and statutory construction dictate that “person” is restricted to only living individuals. Second, and alternatively, defendants contend that at its broadest, “person” can only include living individuals or corporations, public and private. Under this definition, defendants argue that there was insufficient evidence to establish that the arson victim was a corporation. Third, defendants argue that the district court abused its discretion by permitting the prosecution to reopen its cases to present evidence related to the corporate status of the arson victim. Fourth, defendants argue that the charging information was insufficient because it failed to provide sufficient identification of the arson victim and its status.

The court actually split on what definition to use to define “person” — the Major Crimes Act or the Dictionary Act. either way, the entire panel reached the same result.