Only the Judge Can Save Mongols MC Patch
The same jury that found the Mongols Nation Guilty of racketeering and conspiracy in the federal RICO case US v. Mongols Nation has also decided that the club should forfeit their patch because there was a nexus between the Mongols MC’s collective membership marks and conspiracy. However, Judge Carter will not issue a forfeiture order until objections based on the First Amendment are decided at the end of February. Even then, this case is a very long way from its final conclusion.
What’s happened so far.
The Mongols Nation, defined as all full patched members of the Mongols Motorcycle Club, was convicted as an entity last month in US v. Mongols Nation on 2 counts under the Racketeering In Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) for racketeering and conspiracy to engage in racketeering.
On January 11, 2018, the same jury found a suﬃcient nexus between the Mongols membership marks (word mark, center patch mark, collective membership marks) and the RICO conspiracy count to justify forfeiture of the membership marks in the second phase of the trial.
On February 28, 2019 the third and final phase of the trial will resume. Judge Carter made it clear that the trial’s third phase will determine whether the First Amendment overrides the jury’s grant of forfeiture. If Carter agrees with the Federal Government, then the Mongols center-patch, name, and other assets connected to the RICO conspiracy count will be subject to forfeiture. If Carter agrees with the Mongols MC, then the First Amendment will override the jury.
Appeal very likely
Regardless of who wins, the losing party will likely appeal any decisions related to forfeiture of the Mongols membership mark to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. If the government wins, similar to what occurred in 2008, then the Mongols MC may have their patches and related property seized in the interim, until and only if they win an appeal.
Any decision in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals sets precedent for the Western US. Any decision from the 9th Circuit will also likely be appealed to the Supreme Court. If the SCOTUS agrees to review the case the outcome would set precedent for the entire country.
Although it is impossible to determine with certainty what Judge Carter will decide, the MPP is extremely optimistic that the First Amendment liberties of expression and association will reinforce the foundational concept of personal guilt and override a jury of lay citizens that are simply unprepared to engage in complex constitutional analysis.
For the sake of the motorcycle club community and the First Amendment, let us hope the MPP is correct. The very identity of a motorcycle club is the patch that they wear.