United States v. Drapeau, No. 14-3890 (8th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
Defendant appealed his conviction of one count of assault and two counts of domestic assault by a habitual offender, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 117. The court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion by admitting testimony of defendant's then girlfriend about the facts underlying his three prior tribal-court convictions for domestic abuse because the testimony was relevant to prove that the convictions had occurred and that she was a spouse or intimate partner; regardless of whether the testimony was relevant to prove that defendant's prior crimes constituted "any assault" under section 117, it was admissible for other purposes; and any prejudicial effect that the testimony might have had on the jury was mitigated by the district court's curative instruction. The court also concluded that, because the right of counsel does not apply in tribal-court proceedings, the use of defendant's prior tribal-court convictions as predicate offenses in a section 117(a) prosecution does not violate the Constitution. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment.