Author Archive | Peggy Cross-Goldenberg

Friday, July 1st, 2016

Circuit Clarifies that Government Retains the Ultimate Burden When Seeking Detention in “Presumption” Cases

Late last week, the Second Circuit issued a short summary order in United States v. Horton, No. 16-1574, ordering that the District Court vacate its order of detention and remanding for further proceedings. Although it issued just a short summary order, the Circuit clarified that even in “presumption” cases, the government retains the ultimate burden of persuasion on the issue of remand based on a defendant’s dangerousness.

In certain types of cases, Title 18 U.S.C. 3142(e) creates a rebuttable presumption that “no condition or combination of conditions will reasonably assure” the safety of the community.  The defendant bears the burden of producing evidence to rebut this presumption.  If the defendant does so, the presumption is not eliminated, but it remains a “factor” just like any other factor the district court has to consider and weigh.  “At all times,” though, “the government retains the ultimate burden of persuasion by …

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Categories: bail, presumption

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Categories: bail, presumption

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Friday, June 24th, 2016

Conditions of Supervised Release Must Be Reasonably Related To Sentencing Objectives

The Circuit issued decisions in four criminal cases today.

In United States v. Brown, 14-4643, the Court vacated and remanded for resentencing.  The district court had imposed special conditions of supervision, but had not given any explanation for the conditions or stated the relationship between the conditions and any sentencing objective.  But a district court does not have “untrammeled” discretion in imposing special conditions of supervised release, the Circuit explained, and “usual and severe conditions,” like those impinging on a First Amendment right, will be “carefully scrutinize[d].”  The district court “is required to make an individualized assessment when determining whether to impose a special condition of supervised release and to state on the record the reason for imposing it.”  Because the district court failed to do so, and the reason for the special conditions was not “self-evident in the record,” the Circuit vacated the special conditions and remanded …


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Categories: child pornography, supervised release

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Thursday, June 23rd, 2016

Supreme Court reaffirms the categorical approach in ACCA cases

In Mathis v. United States, No. 15-6092, the Supreme Court reaffirmed the categorical approach to determining whether a prior conviction can give rise to the enhanced sentencing provisions of the ACCA.  If the elements of a state crime are broader than the elements listed in the generic offense, a conviction for the state crime cannot qualify as a predicate under the ACCA.  This remains true even if the defendant’s actual conduct fit within the definition of the generic offense.  In Mathis, the defendant’s prior conviction for burglary did not qualify as a prior violent offense under the ACCA because the Iowa burglary statute under which he was convicted — which listed “structures” and “vehicles” as alternative means for fulfilling one of the crime’s elements — was broader than generic burglary.  Even though his conduct had involved burglarizing a structure, that fact was “off-limits” to the sentencing judge.

Justice Kagan …


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Categories: ACCA, categorical approach

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Thursday, June 16th, 2016

Defendants bat 0-3 in the Circuit today

The Second Circuit issued three summary orders in criminal cases today.

In United States v. Clare, 15-1601, the Court affirmed the defendant’s conviction on marijuana and gun charges.  Clare argued that the evidence at trial was insufficient to sustain the convictions, primarily because the cooperating witnesses were not credible. The Court rejected this argument, explaining that “the credibility of witnesses is within the province of the jury, not this Court.”  Order at 2.  In light of the remaining evidence, the Court held that a reasonable juror could have concluded that Clare was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  Because the evidence was sufficient, Clare’s attorney was not ineffective in failing to move for a judgment of acquittal in post-trial briefing.  The Court also affirmed the district court’s denial of a motion to suppress.

In United States v. Washington, 14-4740, the Circuit rejected the defendant’s assertion that he had been …


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Categories: comptency, sentencing, sufficiency

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Friday, May 27th, 2016

In En Banc Opinion, Second Circuit Upholds “Good Faith” Reliance on Search Warrant

Today the Second Circuit issued a 104-page en banc opinion in United States v. Ganias, 12-240-cr.

In Ganias, the Court affirmed the judgment of the district court, holding that the government had relied on a search warrant in good faith and declining to reach the Fourth Amendment question raised by the defendant.

The case involved the government’s retention of a mirrored hard drive containing data that went beyond the scope of a search warrant issued in 2003.  In 2006, the government searched this data pursuant to a search warrant obtained in 2006.  Mr. Ganias contended that the 2006 search would not have been possible if the government had not retained a copy of the data that was not responsive to the 2003 search warrant. The Court held that the government’s good faith reliance on the 2006 warrant was objectively reasonable, and so did not reach the question …

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Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

Judge Block Issues Opinion Calling for Reconsideration of Collateral Consequences for Felony Convictions and Highlighting the Role Collateral Consequences Should Play in 3553(a) Analysis

Senior Eastern District Judge Frederic Block issued a 42-page opinion in United States v. Nesbeth, 15-CR-18(FB),  calling for a close reexamination of the collateral consequences that follow felony convictions, the ways these consequences hamper rehabilitation efforts, and their inclusion as a factor in determining the appropriate sentence under 18 U.S.C. 3553(a).  (N.B. Ms. Nesbeth was represented by Amanda David and the Eastern District Office of the Federal Defenders of New York.)

Following a jury trial in the case, Judge Block imposed a one-year probationary sentence in a case with a guidelines range of 33-41 months.  He then issued the lengthy opinion because “sufficient attention has not been paid at sentencing” to the many automatic collateral consequences that flow from a defendant’s felony conviction.  Many of these consequences, he wrote, “serve no useful function other than to further punish criminal defendants after they have completed their court-imposed sentences” but their …


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Categories: collateral consequences, sentencing

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Monday, May 23rd, 2016

Remand for resentencing to consider the difference between substantive conspiracy liability and the scope of relevant conduct for guidelines purposes; Remand for resentencing under § 3582(c)(2)

The Second Circuit issued four summary orders in criminal cases today.

United States v. Rigo, 15-1914, remanded the case for resentencing. The Second Circuit held that the district court committed plain error in calculating the loss amount for the purposes of determining the guideline range. The Circuit explained that “the scope of conduct for which a defendant can be held accountable under the sentencing guidelines is significantly narrower than the conduct embraced by the law of conspiracy.” Order at 2. The “emphasis in substantive conspiracy liability is the scope of the entire conspiracy” but the guidelines are concerned with “the scope of the individual defendant’s undertaking.” Id. (emphasis in original). In other words, even if the acts of co-conspirators were foreseeable to the defendant, they do not constitute relevant conduct for guidelines purposes if they were “not within the scope of the defendant’s agreement.” Id. at 3. …


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Categories: 3582(c)(2), conspiracy, relevant conduct, Rule 11, sentencing findings

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Monday, May 16th, 2016

Second Circuit Vacates Sentence Due to Inadequate Factual Determination Regarding Application of the “Otherwise Extensive” Nature of Conduct Enhancement under U.S.S.G. § 3B1.1(a); Affirms Three Convictions in Summary Orders

In United States v. Kent, 14-2082, the Second Circuit vacated a sentence and remanded for resentencing after concluding that the District Court’s application of a 4-level enhancement under U.S.S.G. § 3B1.1(a) was not supported by adequate factual findings.  The district court determined that Mr. Kent was a leader or organizer of criminal activity that was “otherwise extensive” within the meaning of U.S.S.G. § 3B1.1(a)  and applied the 4-level enhancement.  Many of the facts relied upon by the district court in making this determination – including the amount of money Mr. Kent made and the number of victims of the scheme – already were taken into account by enhancements under U.S.S.G. § 2B1.1(b)(1)(H) (the loss amount enhancement) and U.S.S.G. § 2B1.1(b)(2)(B) (the number of victims enhancement).  The Second Circuit explained that relying on loss amount and the number of victims to find that criminal activity was “otherwise extensive” for …


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Categories: conscious avoidance, double counting, sentencing findings

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