Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Friday, February 21, 2014

Campbell: Confrontation Clause does not apply to vessel without nationality

In U.S. v. Campbell, No. 12-13647 (Feb. 20, 2014), the Court held that the Confrontation Clause does not apply to the “vessel without nationality” fact that establishes jurisdiction under the Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Act. The Court explained that because Congress had removed this jurisdictional element from consideration by the jury – an element that bore only on diplomatic relations between the United States and foreign governments – the Confrontation Clause did not apply. The Court also rejected the claim that Campbell was entitled to a jury trial on this “preliminary” element. The Court found that Congress has authority under the Felonies clause of the Constitution to assert extraterritorial jurisdiction over narcotics trafficking, rejecting the argument that this clause only applies to capital crimes.