A Wyoming felon is arguing that he should be released from prison because some federal courts have found the gun law he violated to be unconstitutionally vague.
It’s a prohibition on possessing a firearm while aware that you’re a drug user: the same gun law the president’s son Hunter Biden is now accused of violating. That law is USC 18 922(g)(3).
Cody James Coker is serving a three-year sentence in the Federal Correctional Institution in Sheridan, Oregon, for possessing a 12-gauge shotgun while knowing he was a drug user.
He’s now asking Wyoming’s federal district court to dismiss his sentence.
Courts Squeamish Over Law
Coker claims in his Friday petition to U.S. District Court Alan B. Johnson of Wyoming that the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals “has held” 18 USC 922 (g)(3) to be “unconstitutionally vague.”
It was, in fact, the U.S. District Court for Utah that found the law “unconstitutionally vague” in the case of U.S. v Morales-Lopez. Utah’s court system, like Wyoming’s, is within the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.
However, the appeals court has not yet decided on Morales-Lopez, and is set to hear oral argument on that case Sept. 19 in Denver.
Utah’s court isn’t the only one squeamish over that law. Judges in Texas and Oklahoma have declared it a violation of the Second Amendment. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals last Wednesday called the law unconstitutional as applied to a marijuana user.
The court said the nation’s history and tradition “does not justify disarming a sober citizen based exclusively on his past drug usage.”
Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew McCarthy opined on Fox News that Hunter Biden’s attorneys could reference the decision in re-working Hunter Biden’s failed plea agreement, though the Fifth Circuit case involved marijuana, not Biden’s admitted vice of cocaine.
Biden’s case is in the U.S. District Court of Delaware, which is under the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.
What’s A User?
Just because he was on drugs during his arrest and subsequent blood draw doesn’t mean he’s a drug “user,” Coker argues in his petition for an order vacating his sentence.
The law doesn’t forbid using while having a firearm, but being a user, knowingly.
It’s a distinction U.S. District Court Judge Jill N. Parrish highlighted in Morales-Lopez’s case in Utah.
“(The law) fails to give ordinary people fair notice of what conduct it prohibits and … it invites courts, rather than the Legislature, to decide what constitutes a crime,” wrote Parrish in June 2022. “This court finds an interpretation that would make gun possession at any point in a person’s life after a single instance of ingesting drugs absurd.”
Morales-Lopez’s appeal is ongoing, as are Coker’s petition and Hunter Biden’s gun case. Biden also faces tax evasion charges.
Clair McFarland can be reached at Clair@CowboyStateDaily.com.