Justin Curtis Werle pled guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 924(a)(2) and 922(g)(1), but he made his plea without being properly informed of the mens rea element of the crime as set out by Rehaif. Werle filed a motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to vacate his conviction on this ground, and the district court denied it without a hearing or making factual findings.
On appeal, the Ninth Circuit reversed and remanded for a hearing, finding this summary denial inappropriate. Without supplementation, the record could not conclusively establish that Werle could not overcome his procedural default. Neither the fact that Werle had a previous sentence for over a year of imprisonment, nor his admission on the record that he had been “convicted of felonies” was sufficient to show conclusively that he would have pled guilty even if he had known of the mens rea element.
Appeal from the Eastern District of Washington
Opinion by Smith, joined by Tashima and Nguyen
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