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United States v. Nix

March 6, 2006

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
ERIC K. NIX



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Matthew F. Kennelly, District Judge:

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Eric Nix is charged with violating 42 U.S.C. § 3631(a). According to the indictment, on March 21, 2003, Nix detonated an explosive device inside a van parked in front of the home of a family of Arab descent living in Burbank, Illinois, because of their Arab national origin and because they were occupying that property.

Section 3631(a) provides, in relevant part, that

[w]hoever ... by force or threat of force, willfully injures, intimidates, or interferes with, or attempts to injure, intimidate, or interfere with ... any person because of his race ... or national origin and because he is or has been ... occupying ... any dwelling ... shall ... be imprisoned not more than one year ... and ... if such acts include the use ... of ... explosives ... shall be ... imprisoned not more than ten years ....

42 U.S.C. § 3631(a).

The parties have tendered conflicting jury instructions regarding the intent element of § 3631(a). The government has proposed the following "elements" instruction:

To sustain the charge of injuring, intimidating, or interfering with another for occupying a dwelling, the government must prove the following propositions:

First, the defendant, by force or the threat of force, injured, intimidated, or interfered with, or attempted to injure, intimidate, or interfere with, the victims named in the indictment;

Second, the defendant did so because of the race or national origin of the victims and because they were occupying a dwelling;

Third, the defendant acted knowingly and willfully; and

Fourth, the defendant's conduct involved the use of an explosive.

If you find from your consideration of all the evidence that each of these propositions has been proved beyond a reasonable doubt, then you should find the defendant guilty.

If, on the other hand, you find from your consideration of all the evidence that any one of these propositions has not been proved beyond a reasonable doubt, then you should find the defendant not guilty.

Govt. Proposed Instr. 18. The government has proposed the following instruction to define the second element listed ...


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