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Small v. United States

Docket No.: 03-750
Certiorari Granted: Mar 29 2004
Argued: November 3, 2004
Decided: April 26, 2005


18 U.S.C. 922, Criminal Procedure, Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, ADEA, Civil Rights Act, Civil Rights Act of 1964, Crime Control Act, ERISA, Federal Tort Claims, Fourth Amendment, Immigration and Nationality Act, Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, Second Amendment, Title VII, age discrimination, antitrust, criminal procedure, disparate impact, disparate treatment, habeas, immigration, judicial review, murder, patent, preemption, sex discrimination, sovereign immunity, stare decisis

PartyNames: Gary Sherwood Small v. United States
Petitioner: Gary Sherwood Small
Respondent: United States

Court Below: United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
Citation: 333 F3d 425
Supreme Court Docket

Gary Sherwood Small
United States
544 U.S. 385 (2005)
Question Presented:

The statute in question, § 922(g)(1) of Title 18, United States Code, makes it unlawful: (g) ...for any person (1) who has been convicted in any court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year: ... to possess in or affecting commerce, any firearm. In the instant matter, Petitioner's only conviction occurred in Okinawa, Japan, and it was this Japanese conviction that served as the predicate felony in this §922(g)(I) prosecution. The Petitioner filed a motion to dismiss the indictment arguing that foreign felonies were not intended to count as the term "in any court" means any court in the United States. The motion was denied. While the third Circuit's affirmance of the lower court is consistent with a 1989 decision of the Fourth Circuit and a 1986 decision of the Sixth Circuit, the Tenth Circuit in 2000 and the Second Circuit, on August 27, 2003, held that foreign convictions do not count. Consequently, a clear conflict exists among the five Circuit Courts which have addressed the issue. The question presented, therefore, is whether the term "convicted in any court" contained in 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) includes convictions entered in foreign courts.


Federal law made gun possession illegal for any person "convicted in any court" for crimes punishable by more than a year in prison. Does "convicted in any court" include convictions in foreign courts?

Small v. United States

November 3, 2004

Holding: reversed and remanded
Decision: Decision: 5 votes for Small, 3 vote(s) against
Vote: 5-3
Recused: Chief Justice Robert

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Small v. United States
Case Documents

1Slip Opinion in Small v. United States (Opinion by )
2Opinion in Small v. United States
3Opinion in Small v. United States
Additional documents for this case are pending review.