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in a 5-4 decision, the justices vacated and remanded a 9th Circuit decision affirming a Guamanian defendant’s convictions on the ground that the panel did not have the authority to decide the appeal because it wasn’t properly constituted. Nguyen v. U.S., No. 01-10873. The court explained that the one judge who served on this 9th Circuit panel, regularly sat on the district court for the Northern Mariana Islands, an Article IV territorial-court. That judge was not an Article III judge eligible to serve on an appellate panel. Stevens’ opinion was joined by O’Connor, Kennedy, Souter and Thomas. Rehnquist’s dissent was joined by Scalia, Ginsburg and Breyer.

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