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Name: U.S. Snellenberger
Case #: 06-50169
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 10/28/2008

A federal court may use a clerk’s minute order to determine the nature of a conviction when conducting a categorical determination to see if a prior conviction is a crime of violence. In this appeal, appellant argued that the federal court could not rely on a California clerk’s minute order to determine if he previously pled to residential burglary so as to qualify as a career offender under the federal sentencing guidelines. The Ninth Circuit held minute orders are sufficiently reliable and can be considered for this purpose. Pursuant to Penal Code section 1207, the court clerk has a duty to enter the judgment in the minutes. Presumably, a clerk exercises that duty just as faithfully and diligently as do court reporters, upon whose transcripts courts regularly rely. The court rejected appellant’s complaint that the minute order is not usually seen by the parties, finding it was enough that the document is prepared by a neutral court officer and that a defendant can view and challenge the contents of the minute order, if he so chooses.