United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division
A. Gibney, Jr. United States District Judge.
matter comes before the Court on appeal of the United States
Magistrate Judge's decision denying the defendant's
motion to dismiss. On May 5, 2017, the government charged
defendant Tevin A. Williams with driving under the influence
("DUI") on Fort Lee. Williams moved to dismiss the
charge, arguing that the federal court lacked subject matter
jurisdiction to prosecute him for violating Virginia's
DUI law. (Dk. No. 8.) The Magistrate Judge denied the motion.
(Dk. No. 19.) Williams then pled guilty, but reserved the
right to appeal the denial of his motion to dismiss.
Court finds that the Uniform Code of Military Justice
("UCMJ") does not preempt assimilating
Virginia's DUI statute into federal law. Thus, the
government properly prosecuted the defendant in federal court
for this offense, and the Court affirms the decision of the
government charged Williams, a member of the United States
Army, with DUI under the Assimilative Crimes Act
("ACA"). 18 U.S.C. § 13. The ACA assimilates
Virginia Code § 18.2-266, the Commonwealth of
Virginia's DUI statute, into federal law. Under the
government's theory, since the case charged a crime under
the ACA, this Court has jurisdiction to hear the case.
Williams moved to dismiss, arguing that the UCMJ preempts the
ACA from assimilating Virginia Code § 18.2-266. He
contended, therefore, that the government could not properly
charge him in this Court.
Magistrate Judge denied the motion to dismiss. Williams pled
guilty, pursuant to a conditional plea agreement that
preserved his right to appeal the jurisdictional question to
this Court. He has now appealed the denial of his motion to
STANDARD OF REVIEW
defendant may appeal a magistrate judge's decision to a
district judge pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure
58(g)(2)(B). "The defendant is not entitled to a trial
de novo by a district judge. The scope of the appeal is the
same as in an appeal to the court of appeals from a judgment
entered by a district judge." Fed. R. Crim. P.
58(g)(2)(D). District courts review questions of law on
appeal de novo. United States v. Masciandaro, 648
F.Supp.2d 779, 783 (E.D. Va. 2009) (citing United States
v. Bursey, 416 F.3d 301, 306 (4th Cir. 2005)). Since
Williams raises a purely legal question, this Court will
review the Magistrate Judge's decision de novo.
Fourth Circuit case directly addresses the issue that the
defendant raises in his appeal: whether the UCMJ preempts
assimilating Virginia's DUI statute under the ACA.
United States v. Walker, 552 F.2d 566 (4th Cir.
1977). Walker determined that the UCMJ is not a
generally applicable law and thus does not preempt ACA
assimilation of Virginia's statute. Id. at 568
n.3. Williams argues that a more recent Supreme Court case,
Lewis v. United States, creates a new test for ACA
assimilation that impliedly overrules Walker. 523
U.S. 155 (1998). The Court disagrees. Walker remains
good law and applies to this case. Moreover, even if the
Court applied the test set forth in Lewis, the
outcome of this appeal would not change, as the UCMJ still
would not preempt ACA assimilation.
adopts state law to apply on federal enclaves for crimes that
"any enactment of Congress" does not otherwise
cover. 18 U.S.C. § 13(a). Congress passed the ACA in the
early years of the republic to fill gaps that existed in
federal criminal law at the time. Lewis, 523 U.S. at
160-61. The ACA also created uniformity in criminal law
between a given state and the federal enclaves situated
inside of that state. United States v. Dotson, 615
F.3d 1162, 1165 (9th Cir. 2010). The ACA assimilated into
federal law Virginia Code § 18.2-266, making it a
federal crime to drive under the influence on federal land in
UCMJ contains a broad variety of criminal prohibitions that
apply only to military personnel. United States v.
Joshua, 607 F.3d 379, 383 (4th Cir. 2010). Civilian
courts do not punish violations of the UCMJ; rather, military
courts-martial resolve all violations. United States v.
Mariea, 795 F.2d 1094, 1100-01 (1st Cir. 1986). The
civilian criminal code and UCMJ are "distinct bodies of
criminal law[J...enforced by different prosecutorial and
court systems." Joshua, 607 F.3d at 383.
Pertinent to this case, the UCMJ includes a punishment for
driving under the influence. 10 U.S.C. § 911.
noted above, the Fourth Circuit has already decided this very
issue in a case involving military personnel driving under
the influence on a military base. Walker, 552 F.2d
at 567. In Walker, the defendant argued that the
UCMJ's drunk driving provisions precluded charging
military personnel with DUI in federal district court.
Id. The Fourth Circuit disagreed, holding that the
federal government could charge and convict active ...