U.S. v. Havelock, No. 08-10472 (1-6-12) (en banc).
Sitting en banc, the 9th holds that for a conviction under 18 U.S.C. 876, which is mailing a threat to a person, the addressee has to be a "person" - an individual or natural person. To show this, the contents of the communication can be considered. In this case, which involved a diatribe against American society and the evils presented, copies of which were sent to media outlets, an individual was not named. The diatribe was sent before Super Bowl XLII in Glendale, Arizona, and the defendant, after mailing the letters, went to the parking lot with several weapons with an intent to shoot. He did not. He had second thoughts, following these bad thoughts, called his family, and turned himself in. Because the threats were again not addressed to individuals, no threats were made. The convictions (one for each letter sent to a media outlet) were vacated and dismissed. (B. Fletcher wrote and was joined by Kozinski, Berzon, Callahan, and Ikuta). Concurring in the result, N. Smith would read the statute to include threats made to corporations and other entities. He however would reverse because the government failed to present sufficient evidence of specific intent. Concurring and dissenting, Reinhardt (joined by Wardlaw and Berzon in part and Schroeder in part), first would find no evidence of any threat, and second, dissents from the holding allowing a review of the contents. Concurring and dissenting, Wardlaw would hold that the defendant's communications were addressed to natural persons but that they were not threats. Dissenting, Fisher joined by Rawlinson, would find that threats were made to natural persons in the contents.
There is now a circuit split on this issue.
Congratulations to AFPD Dan Kaplan and Jeff Williams of the Arizona FPD Office (Phoenix) for the win.