By Caroline Daniel

In United States v. Baize, an unpublished opinion released today, the Fourth Circuit upheld Defendant Barry Dean Baize’s (“Baize”) conviction for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Baize Challenges Conviction on Three Grounds

After being convicted of illegally possessing a firearm and receiving a sentence of 245 months in prison, Baize appealed his conviction on three grounds.  First, he argued that the prosecution presented insufficient evidence.  Second, he challenged the district court’s decision to dismiss a sick juror and replace her with an alternate.  Finally, he argued that the “in or affecting commerce” element of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) was unconstitutional as it was applied to him.

 Fourth Circuit Finds No Reversible Errors

The Fourth Circuit reviewed Baize’s first alleged error de novo.  As precedent required, the Court reviewed the evidence in the light most favorable to the State and accepted the trial court’s assessment of credibility.  Baize contested the prosecution’s evidence on the second element of the possession charge (that Baize voluntarily and intentionally possessed a firearm).  The Court held, however, that the prosecution’s presentation of three witnesses who had seen Baize with a firearm, coupled with a post-arrest phone call in which Baize admitted to owning a firearm, was sufficient evidence to meet the State’s burden that Baize voluntarily and intentionally possessed a firearm.

Next, Baize argued that the trial court erred when it dismissed an ill juror and replaced her with an alternate.  The Fourth Circuit reviewed this issue for abuse of discretion standard, and found that, based on Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 24(c), the trial court had the authority to dismiss the ill juror.

Finally, Baize alleged that the “in or affecting commerce” element of  18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) was unconstitutional as applied.  The Fourth Circuit did not address this issue, however, noting that “Baize correctly acknowledge[d that] relief on this claim is foreclosed by controlling Circuit precedent.”

Trial Court Decision Affirmed

Finding no reversible errors, the Fourth Circuit affirmed Baize’s conviction and sentence.