The Tenth Circuit recently reaffirmed the scope of the mandate rule in United States v. Dutch, 978 F.3d 1341 (10th Cir. 2020) (Dutch II). The circuit court ruled that in a prior appeal, it had 10th Circuit Spotlightissued specific directions—not a general remand—and the district court erred by failing to follow those directions. The circuit court explained that, while it was not infallible, the district court was obligated to follow its instructions, even if the court believed the circuit court had erred or had insufficiently explained its rationale. The court noted that a district court may deviate from the mandate only in a few exceptional circumstances that did not exist here.

Procedural History: ‘Dutch I’

In January 2016, Albuquerque police officers responded to a scene where a vehicle crashed into a wall. They took the defendant (Dutch) into custody and discovered he had a loaded pistol and methamphetamine. Id. at 1343. Dutch pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm under 18 U.S.C. §§922(g) and 924(e). Id.

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