Success for Janitor Who Fought Minor Conviction

     (CN) - Reversing a $150 fine against a military-base maintenance worker, the 9th Circuit on Wednesday said the paltriness of the misdemeanor conviction does not preclude the court's interference.
     The case concerns the conviction of Deondrae Jackson in Los Angeles of misdemeanor "manufacturing, selling, or possessing any badge, identification card, or other insignia, of the design prescribed by the head of any department or agency of the United States for use by any officer or employee thereof, or any colorable imitation thereof."
     Based on the testimony of two of Jackson's co-workers at the Marine Corps Logistics Base in Barstow, Calif., U.S. District Judge Philip Gutierrez ordered Jackson to pay a $150 fine.
     "The fine imposed on Mr. Jackson was only $150, which may seem insufficient cause for invoking the might and authority of the United States District Court and the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, but to Mr. Jackson this case is as important as, if not more important than, Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co. is to those parties," Judge Stephen Reinhardt wrote for a three-judge panel.
     Prosecutors had charged Jackson after he allegedly created an identification card for his job with the base's maintenance department after he misplaced the official card several times.
     Though base officials claimed that Jackson had created the new yellow card rather than request one from base police, Jackson insisted that he had obtained the card from a base functionary.
     The appellate panel found Wednesday that "the evidence introduced at trial does not support the conclusion that the yellow card Mr. Jackson was convicted of manufacturing or possessing was 'of the design prescribed by the head of any department or agency of the United States'."
     "The only other testimony even tangentially relevant to who had prescribed the design of the yellow card was the statement of Jose Rafael Amador, a naval police officer responsible for checking identification cards, that 'the Maintenance Center came up with' the badge for its employees," Reinhardt wrote. "This testimony, too, provided no evidence whatsoever that 'the head of any department or agency' 'prescribed ... the design' of the yellow card."
     While conceding that the issue was "not one of the more significant criminal cases to reach this court in recent years," Reinhardt said that Jackson "had little choice but to make every effort to have his conviction set aside."