Co-authored by: Stephanie A. Darville & Shams H. Hirji
About two weeks ago, the Sixth Circuit issued an important decision in United States v. White, No. 21-3209. Judge White wrote the unanimous opinion for the Court, which was joined by Judge Moore and Judge Bush. The Court held that an Ohio aggravated-robbery statute, R.C. § 2911.01(A)(1), does not qualify as a violent felony under the Armed Career Criminal Act (commonly referred to as “ACCA”). The Sixth Circuit reversed the District Court’s contrary decision.
The case is notable for a few reasons. The Court acknowledged that it was departing from a prior panel’s decision, which had held that R.C. § 2911.01(A)(1) did qualify as a violent felony under ACCA. See United States v. Patterson, 853 F.3d 298 (6th Cir. 2017). But the Court was not constrained by Patterson because of the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Borden v. United States, 141 S. Ct. 1817 (2021). In Borden, a plurality of the Supreme Court held that ACCA’s elements clause “covers purposeful and knowing acts, but excludes reckless conduct.” Id. at 1826. And in United States v. Butts, 40 F.4th 766 (6th Cir. 2022), the Sixth Circuit read Borden as requiring a purposeful or knowing mens rea for offenses deemed violent felony predicate offenses. See id. at 770.