Author Archive | Peggy Cross-Goldenberg

Friday, January 27th, 2017

Jan. 25 Executive Order and Federal Defense of Immigrants

President Trump’s executive order titled “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States,” signed on Jan. 25, may have significant impacts on non-citizens with open federal criminal cases in the relatively near term.  The order is only two days old and does not explicitly withdraw existing agency guidance on most issues it addresses, so it is not clear how soon DHS or DOJ will issue revised guidance to field offices regarding implementation. But federal criminal practitioners should be aware of several aspects of this order that may alter the landscape for noncitizen defendants and should closely monitor their implementation:

1) Some federal defendants who would not have been ICE enforcement priorities before may now be high priorities for removal even pre-conviction.  Obama’s DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson issued a 3-tiered system of ICE enforcement priorities in late 2014.  Once those took effect in 2015, 98 to 99% of all …

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Categories: deportation

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Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

Circuit affirms restitution order based on co-conspirator interview

In United States v. Pinto, the Second Circuit affirmed an order of restitution that was based, in part, on a government memorandum recounting an interview with a co-conspirator.  The District Court had refused to order the government to produce the QuickBooks records that were a partial basis for its restitution calculations.

The District Court has the discretion to decide the procedure it will employ in determining a restitution award “so long as the defendant is given an adequate opportunity to present his position.”  Order at 3. The court “is only required to ascertain by a preponderance of the evidence ‘a reasonable approximation of losses by a sound methodology.'” Id. (citing  United States v. Gushlak, 728 F. 3d 184, 196, and Paroline v. United States, 134 S. Ct. 1710, 1727-28 (2014)).…

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Categories: restitution

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Circuit affirms sentence despite district court’s application of Guideline range that differed from parties’ plea agreement

In United States v. Byrd, the Second Circuit affirmed a sentence despite the District Court finding an applicable guideline range different from the one agreed to by the parties in a written plea agreement.  The Circuit held that although “district courts have the discretion to give effect to Guidelines calculations in plea agreements that result in downward departure from the correct Guidelines range,” there is no affirmative obligation that the district court give effect to such calculations.  Unless the district court misunderstood its authority to depart, the decision not to depart is generally unreviewable.…


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Categories: guideline, plea agreement

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In Summary Order, Circuit affirms use of low copy number DNA evidence at trial

In United States v. Morgan, the Second Circuit affirmed the conviction despite the defendant’s challenge to the use of Low Copy Number DNA evidence at trial.  The Circuit concluded that “although LCN analysis is supported by significantly weaker evidence of reliability than traditional DNA analysis, the district court did not abuse its discretion in this case in holding that the proffered expert evidence met the reliability standards of Rule 702: We cannot say that its ruling here was ‘manifestly erroneous.'” The Circuit did say that it expressed “no opinion on the propriety of admitting the results of LCN testing in other cases and note[d] that OCME is discontinuing its use of LCN testing in favor of newer technology that produces reliable results in most of the sensitivity range for which it previously employed LCN testing.”  Hopefully, this limits the already-limited applicability of this summary order in future cases.

The …

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Categories: DNA

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Thursday, January 12th, 2017

New DOJ Guidelines for Photo Arrays

Earlier this month, the Department of Justice issued new guidelines for the use of photo array identification procedures.  You may find this useful in support your request for an expert in cases in which these procedures were not followed.

The ABA Journal has an update on the policy as well as links to the DOJ memo and other media coverage of the policy.

http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/new_justice_department_guidelines_aim_to_ensure_reliability_of_photo_arrays…


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Categories: identification procedures, Uncategorized

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Monday, January 9th, 2017

Sentencing Commission’s Interactive Sourcebook

Have you ever wanted to know the average length of sentences for a particular criminal history category for a particular guideline?  Do you want to make an argument that cases involving MDMA see a higher rate of below-guideline sentences than other drug cases, either nationally, by circuit or by district?

Then this is the website for you!

The Sentencing Commission has an interactive Sourcebook that you can use to generate tables that are not available in the printed version of the annual Sourcebook.  You can use it to compare below-guideline sentences by each primary guideline across the district or circuit, to break down the average length of sentence by criminal history category for each primary guideline, or to find the rate of below-guideline sentences for drug offenses involving different drugs.

You can access the Interactive Sourcebook here:

http://isb.ussc.gov/Login

Our friends at the Sentencing Resource Counsel Project have shared this helpful,

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Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

SCOTUS sets argument in Beckles v. United States for November 28, 2016

The Supreme Court has scheduled the oral argument in Beckles v. United States for Monday, November 28.

The issues in Beckles are whether the Court’s decision in Johnson v. United States applies retroactively on collateral review to cases challenging sentences imposed under the Career Offender Guideline, USSG 4B1.2(a)(2), whether Johnson renders that section of the Guidelines void for vagueness, and whether possession of a sawed-off shotgun remains a “crime of violence” for purposes of the Career Offender Guideline following Johnson.

Earlier this month, as discussed here, the Second Circuit vacated its decision in Jones v. United pending the outcome of Beckles.  Many Johnson-based 2255 petitions have been stayed pending the outcome as well.…

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Friday, October 14th, 2016

Hearing Regarding Conditions at MDC Brooklyn Scheduled for 10/27

Eastern District Judge Cheryl Pollak has scheduled a hearing on the conditions of confinement, particularly for women, at the MDC.

For years, lawyers have raised issues about the conditions of confinement in general and the conditions of confinement for women in particular.  As reported in today’s New  York Daily News, the National Association of Women Judges has conducted official visits to the MDC and found “abysmal conditions faced by female prisoners, including a lack of fresh air and sunlight, no air conditioning during the heatwave, rotten food and insufficient medical care.”  You can read more about the case and Judge Pollak’s comments here.

Steve Zizzou and Sally Butler, counsel representing the defendant at the October 27th hearing, are looking for individuals who have information regarding the conditions at the MDC, particularly regarding the lack of medical care and serial sexual and other abuse.  Information can be given on a …

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Tuesday, October 11th, 2016

The 5-level enhancement under U.S.S.G. 2G2.2(b)(3)(B) for distribution of child pornography “for the receipt, or expectation of receipt, of a thing of value,” requires “specific, individualized evidence” of the bargained-for exchange.

Last week, the Second Circuit vacated the sentence in United States v. Bennett, No. 15-0024 (“Opinion”). The Court held that, in order to justify the 5-level enhancement under U.S.S.G. 2G2.2(b)(3)(B) for distribution of child pornography “for the receipt, or expectation of receipt, of a thing of value,” “the Government must advance specific, individualized evidence that [a defendant] provided access to his collection of child pornography to another user with the expectation that that user would provide similar access to other child-pornography files.” Opinion at 15. In this case, the Court held the 5-level enhancement was justified because the defendant had engaged in the quid pro quo exchange of passwords protecting child pornography files with other users. Despite finding that the enhancement applied, the Circuit vacated the sentence and remanded for resentencing because the District Court (Sullivan, J.) failed properly to calculate the applicable guideline to reflect the fact that, because …


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Categories: child pornography, guideline

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