Case: 14-10735 Date Filed: 11/25/2014 Page: 9 of 23
at the time with three rounds of ammunition. The police then stopped the vehicle.
McIlwain’s aunt, Wanda Tindle, turned over the firearm to police, explaining that
it belonged to McIlwain. McIlwain was arrested and charged with violating
Alabama laws regarding terroristic threats and motor vehicle theft.
On April 4, 2013, a Special Agent of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco,
Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) and a Choctaw County Sheriff’s deputy
interviewed McIlwain. In the interview, McIlwain admitted to the purchase and
possession of the firearm and to the events described above, including his prior
commitment to a state mental health care facility.
On April 25, 2013, a federal grand jury indicted McIlwain for violating 18
U.S.C. § 922(g)(4), “knowing recei[pt] and possess[ion], in and affecting
commerce, [of] a firearm . . . after being committed involuntarily to a mental
health facility.” The indictment charges that the relevant involuntary commitment
occurred “through the Choctaw County Probate Court on November 7, 2012, in
Probate Court Case number M-12-4557.”
C. The District Court Proceedings
On October 2, 2013, McIlwain moved to dismiss the indictment. McIlwain
argued that the underlying probate court commitment proceedings did not comply
with due process and, as a result, the order of commitment could not serve as the
basis for a prosecution under § 922(g)(4). McIlwain contended that the proceeding