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United States v. Jackson

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

August 4, 2017

United States of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Douglas D. Jackson, Defendant-Appellant.

          Argued October 28, 2016

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, South Bend Division. No. 3:15-CR-6 - Robert L. Miller, Jr., Judge.

          Before Ripple, Kanne, and Rovner, Circuit Judges.

          ROVNER, Circuit Judge.

         Douglas Jackson appeals following a jury trial at which he was convicted of three counts of transporting a minor in interstate commerce with the intent that she engage in illegal sexual activity, see 18 U.S.C. § 2423(a), three counts of sex trafficking of a minor, see 18 U.S.C. § 1591(a), and one count of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence (sex trafficking of a minor), see 18 U.S.C. § 924(c). The district court sentenced Jackson to 295 months' imprisonment. He appeals, arguing that his conviction under § 924(c) is invalid because the portion of that statute applicable to his crime is unconstitutionally vague. He also challenges the district court's conclusion under the United States Sentencing Guidelines that he was a leader or supervisor of the offense, see U.S.S.G. § 3Bl.l(1)(c), and that he obstructed justice when he testified on his own behalf, see U.S.S.G. § 3C1.1. For the reasons discussed below, we vacate Jackson's conviction under § 924(c) and vacate and remand for resentencing.

         I.

         Jackson met the minor victim, J.T., at a party in May of 2014, when J.T. was fifteen years old and Jackson was twenty-five. J.T., who was just finishing the 9th grade, told Jackson her actual age, but he claimed to be only seventeen. He asked her if she was interested in making some money, and then proceeded to buy her clothes and pay to have her hair and nails done.

         Within several weeks, on June 6, 2014, Jackson drove the two of them in a rented car to Atlanta, Georgia, where J.T. had some family, including her father and siblings. Jackson paid for the two of them to stay for two nights in a hotel. He also used his cell phone and a prepaid credit card to post an ad in the Atlanta section of the classified advertising website "Backpage-.com, " which prior to January 2017 contained an adult section advertising different categories of sex work. [1] The title of the ad said, "Sexy star beautiful mixed puerto rican in town looking for a great time." The e-mail address connected to the ad was Jackson's e-mail, and the listed contact number was for a prepaid flip phone that Jackson had purchased. Jackson and J.T used the prepaid cell phone to text customers, who were charged $150 for thirty minutes with J.T. or $200 for an hour.

         On June 8th, Jackson and J.T. moved on to Louisville, Kentucky, basically repeating what they had done in Atlanta. The Backpage.com ad from Atlanta was reposted with only minor differences, and Jackson again paid for motels and food. While in Louisville, J.T. stayed with a customer beyond the allotted time frame, and Jackson began texting her. In response to Jackson's query, "Wtf is takin so long" J.T. texted back that the customer "spent another 15 mins." The call log reflected that Jackson attempted to call J.T. on the prepaid phone approximately fifteen minutes later, after which the following text exchange took place:

J.T: I'm tryin to make him cum
Jackson: Bitch its a time limit not that he got to go now or I'm comin in
J.T.: Alright

         Shortly after that encounter, Jackson's cell phone was used to repost the Backpage.com ad.

         After their stay in Louiville, Jackson and J.T. returned briefly to South Bend, Indiana. Next they headed to Grand Rapids, Michigan with J.T.'s brother. After reserving a hotel in Grand Rapids, Jackson reposted the original Backpage.com ad, and J.T. responded to a call shortly before midnight at a local Super 8 motel. She returned to Jackson's car shortly after going into the hotel room and reported that the customer had been acting weird. While she was sitting with Jackson in the car, two police officers conducting a routine patrol approached. One of the officers testified that they frequently patrolled that Super 8 parking lot because it was often the site of drug and prostitution activity. The officers saw J.T.'s bare leg propped up in the driver's side of the car, and as they got closer to investigate, J.T. hastily exited the vehicle with her shorts unbuttoned and her underwear exposed. ...


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