US v. Roland Griffin, No. 10-4629 (4th Cir. 2010)

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UNPUBLISHED UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT No. 10-4629 UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff - Appellee, v. ROLAND JOHN GRIFFIN, Defendant Appellant. Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, at Richmond. Robert E. Payne, Senior District Judge. (3:10-cr-00060-REP-1) Submitted: September 30, 2010 Decided: November 3, 2010 Before MOTZ and DUNCAN, Circuit Judges, and HAMILTON, Senior Circuit Judge. Affirmed by unpublished per curiam opinion. Michael S. Nachmanoff, Federal Public Defender, Paul G. Gill, Assistant Federal Public Defender, Richmond, Virginia, for Appellant. Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney, Brian R. Hood, Assistant United States Attorney, Richmond, Virginia, for Appellee. Unpublished opinions are not binding precedent in this circuit. PER CURIAM: Roland John Griffin was convicted, following a bench trial before a magistrate judge, of one count of driving under the influence, in violation of 36 C.F.R § 4.23(a)(2) (2009). On appeal, Griffin contends that there was insufficient evidence to sustain his conviction. Finding no reversible error, we affirm. We review a district court s decision to deny a Rule 29 motion for a judgment of acquittal de novo. Smith, 451 F.3d 209, 216 (4th Cir. 2006). United States v. A defendant claiming insufficient evidence to support a verdict against him bears a heavy burden. United States v. Beidler, 110 F.3d 1064, 1067 (4th Cir. 1997). A verdict must be sustained if, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, the verdict is supported by substantial evidence. F.3d at evidence 216 (citations that a omitted). reasonable finder Substantial of fact Smith, 451 evidence could accept is as adequate and sufficient to support a conclusion of a defendant s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. marks and citation omitted). Id. (internal quotation Furthermore, [t]he [factfinder], not the reviewing court, weighs the credibility of the evidence and resolves any conflicts in the evidence presented. Beidler, 110 citation F.3d omitted). at 1067 (internal quotation marks and Generally, a verdict is reversed for insufficient 2 evidence only where the prosecution clearly failed to meet its burden. Id. (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). 36 C.F.R. § 4.23(a)(2) prohibits operating or being in actual physical control of a motor vehicle in a national park area Because with Griffin a blood does or not breath dispute alcohol his level over .08. the only intoxication, issue is whether he was operating or in control of his truck when National Park Service Ranger Charles Lochart arrested him. Operator is controls, control defined otherwise of a has encompasses a person charge mechanical mechanical equipment. operator as mode who of is of or broader in actual transportation 36 C.F.R. § 1.4(a). a operates, range of or drives, physical any other The definition of behavior than just See United States v. McFarland, 445 F.3d 29, 32 (1st driving. Cir. 2006) (actual physical control exists when the vehicle s owner is conscious and seated behind the steering wheel with the key in the ignition); United States v. Coleman, 750 F. Supp. 191, 193 (W.D. Va. 1990) (evidence of operation was sufficient where driver was found in the driver s seat of her car on the surface of the roadway with the key in the ignition). We conclude that the Government introduced sufficient evidence influence. that Griffin was operating the vehicle under the Ranger Lochart found Griffin in the driver s seat of his parked truck with the keys in the ignition and the engine 3 running. by Griffin engaged the electrical equipment in the truck operating the turn signal and the four-way flashers. Moreover, Ranger Lochart s testimony that Griffin stated that he was having a problem with his turn signal and asked how fast he had been driving when he was stopped, together with evidence that Griffin s vehicle was in a different location then it had been when Griffin s son left him alone in the vehicle, * suggests that Griffin was, in fact, driving before Ranger Lochart arrived on the scene. Accordingly, we affirm the district court s judgment. We dispense with oral argument because the facts and legal contentions are adequately presented in the materials before the court and argument would not aid the decisional process. AFFIRMED * Griffin s son, John, had been driving the truck, with Griffin as his only passenger, when John parked the vehicle along the side of a road and left on foot, leaving the keys in the ignition, following an argument between the two men. Testimony established that when Ranger Lochart encountered Griffin his truck was parked at a location different from the area where John had left it. 4
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