Author Archive | Peggy Cross-Goldenberg

Friday, May 13th, 2016

District Court Updates: Driving While Impaired Violation Under NY VTL 1192.1 Does Not Count For Criminal History; Career Offender Guideline Too Harsh

In United States v. Paredes, 15-Cr-436, EDNY Judge Jack B. Weinstein held that a defendant’s conviction for violating New York Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 1192.1, a violation and not a crime, does not result in criminal history points, thereby allowing the defendant to qualify for safety valve relief from a mandatory minimum sentence.  Judge Weinstein concluded that the Sentencing Commission could not have intended to include VTL 1192.1 – New York’s Driving While Ability Impaired statute – because the statue “is a light, noncriminal offense with mens rea squeezed out of it.”  Opinion at 14.  You can read Judge Weinstein’s opinion here.  The New York Law Journal has coverage here.  Mr. Paredes was represented by Len Kamdang of the Federal Defenders of New York.

In United State v Henry, 15-Cr-179, SDNY Judge Paul A. Crotty imposed a sentence of 36 months in a case in …


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Categories: career offender, criminal history, safety valve, Uncategorized

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Thursday, May 12th, 2016

Advising Clients Regarding Sexual Polygraph Exams and the Fifth Amendment in Child Pornography Cases

Earlier this week, in United States v. Von Behren, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals held that requiring that a person on supervised release answer questions on a sexual history polygraph that are designed to elicit admissions of criminal conduct violates the Fifth Amendment’s privilege against self-incrimination.  You can read a copy of the opinion here.  Thank you to the folks at the Sentencing Resource Counsel for forwarding the opinion and congratulations to Assistant Federal Defender John T. Carlson who won the case before the Tenth Circuit.

This issue presents itself in many SDNY and EDNY cases, perhaps most frequently in possession of child pornography cases.  If your client is sentenced to a term of supervised release that contains a special condition regarding compliance with a sexual history polygraph, make sure you advise your client to assert his Fifth Amendment right, to do so in writing to his …


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Categories: child pornography, self-incrimination, sex offenses

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Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

Two Interesting District Court Civil Cases Regarding Informants

For the third day in a row, there were no criminal decisions or summary orders from the Second Circuit.

We thought these two civil cases related to government informants were interesting.

Last week, in Barone v. United States, 12-cv-04103, SDNY Judge Lewis A. Kaplan allowed a Bivens claim brought by a former FBI informant to proceed on a “theory that the FBI defendants purposeful and punitively leaked [the informant’s] status, which, in turn, caused the general prison population to be unsafe,” and required BOP officials to confine the informant in the special housing unit.  You can read Judge Kaplan’s opinion here.  The New York Law Journal has coverage here.

Yesterday, in In re Motion for Civil Contempt by John Doe, 12-mc-0557, EDNY Judge Brian M. Cogan ordered the unsealing of many documents related to civil contempt proceedings brought by a former cooperating witness against attorneys who …

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Categories: Bivens

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Categories: Bivens

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Tuesday, May 10th, 2016

Judge Rakoff Rejects Proposed Handwriting Expert Testimony

In an opinion released May 6, in the case Almeciga v. Center for Investigative Reporting, 15-cv-4319, SDNY Judge Jed S. Rakoff granted a defense motion to exclude proposed expert handwriting analysis testimony, holding that “handwriting analysis in general is unlikely to meet the admissibility requirements of Federal Rules of Evidence 702.”  The opinion documents the development of handwriting analysis as a forensic field and its history in the courts before analyzing the Daubert and Kumho Tire factors.  See Opinion, 17-43.  The Court concludes that handwriting analysis “bears none of the indicia of science and suggests, at best, a form of subjective expertise,”  Opinion at 26.  “It remains the case,” the Court explains, “that the methodology has not been subject to adequate testing or peer review, that error rates for the task at hand are unacceptably high, and that the field sorely lacks internal controls and standards” and that “as …


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Categories: expert witnesses

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Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

Circuit affirms denial of 18 U.S.C. 3582 sentence reduction

In United States v. Jimenez, 15-1624, the Circuit affirmed the District Court’s denial of a reduction in sentence pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 3582.  The Circuit held that when the District Court stated that a lower sentence was “foreclose[d]” by the defendant’s participation in four murders, it meant that the original sentence was the minimum sentence necessary in light of Jimenez’s conduct and that the facts of the case did not provide a basis for granting a sentence reduction.…


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Categories: 3582(c)(2), Uncategorized

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No need to dismiss juror who learned the defendant had been shackled but did not see him shackled; Circuit declines to decide whether USSG 4B1.3 is susceptible to a vagueness challenge; affirms prosecutor’s comments on summation

In United States v. Nastri, 15-489, the Circuit held that the District Court did not err either by declining to dismiss a juror or by applying USSG 4B1.3’s criminal livelihood enhancement, and that the prosecutor’s remarks in summation were not improper.

The juror in question learned from a third party that another juror had been dismissed after seeing the defendant in shackles.  The District Court questioned the juror and the juror told the Court that the knowledge she obtained from the third person would not affect her ability to be impartial.  On these facts, absent a specific showing of harm, the defendant could not show that his right to a fair trial was prejudiced.

On summation, the prosecutor called certain defense arguments “red herrings” and “distractions.”  The defense did not object at the time, so the Circuit reviewed these comments for plain error and, after comparing the comments to …


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Categories: juror discharge, summation, vagueness

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Second Circuit Affirms District Court’s Determination of Weight of Controlled Substance and Reliance on Acquitted Conduct

In United States v. Guerra, 14-1025, the Second Circuit affirmed by summary order the District Court’s methodology for determining the weight of oxycodone prior to sentencing.  The District Court’s finding after relying on “documentary medical and telephone records, recorded conversations, and witness testimony regarding the methodology of the scheme” was a permissible view of the evidence and, therefore, not clear error.

The Circuit also rejected Guerra’s argument that the District Court’s reliance on acquitted conduct rendered his sentence unreasonable, holding that it is well-established that a court can rely sentence on the basis of acquitted conduct that is proven by a preponderance of the evidence.…


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Categories: acquitted conduct, drug quantity

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Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

Second Circuit affirms above-guideline sentence; declines to consider one IAC claim on direct review, but rejects another where record below was sufficiently developed on the point

In United States v. Pendergrass, 15-1965, the Second Circuit affirmed the conviction of Terrence Pendergrass, a former captain at Rikers Island, on one count of willfully violating the constitutional rights of an inmate, who died following the ingestion of cleaning supplies, by refusing to get him medical attention and prohibiting other guards from getting him medical attention.  Pendergrass raised three issues:  that he received ineffective assistance of counsel at trial, that the District Court improperly instructed the jury regarding willfulness and conscious avoidance, and that his above-guideline sentence was unreasonable.

With respect to the ineffective assistance of counsel claims, the Court declined to consider Pendergrass’s first claim (that Pendergrass’s attorney was ineffective because he failed to call witnesses that would have been material to the defense) because the record with respect to the witnesses’ potential testimony was insufficiently developed to be considered on direct review.  The Court did reach …


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Categories: conscious avoidance, ineffective assistance of counsel, jury charge, substantive reasonableness, willful causation

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Wednesday, April 13th, 2016

New ICE Form I-247N Does Not Authorize Detention

Lawyers in both districts should be aware of a change in ICE detainer policy.  The old so-called “detainer” form (1-247) is being retired and replaced with three different forms.  The change in policy is summarized here on the ICE website.

One of the new forms, the I-247N, is a request for voluntary notification of the impending release of a “suspected priority alien”, but it does not request or authorize the continued detention of  individuals beyond the point they otherwise would be released.  The form says on its face that it does not request or authorize detention.  It also says on its face that it should not impact decisions about bail, release, or other matters.  Despite these changes, prosecutors and agents may refer to the I-247N as a “detainer” and may argue at a bail hearing that it authorizes your client’s detention.

In light of the change in ICE policy …


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Categories: Uncategorized

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EDNY Update: Judge Pohorelsky Finds Adam Walsh Act Mandatory Bail Provision Unconstitutional, Judge DeArcy Hall Reverses Bail Determination

On Friday, in the EDNY, Magistrate Judge Viktor V. Pohorelsky found that the Adam Walsh Amendments to the Bail Reform Act violate the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment and the Excessive Bail Clause of the Eighth Amendment.  The case was United States v. Kim, 16-mj-280 (VVP), and the transcript is available here: Kim_16MJ280_Transcript 4.8.16.

For those charged with crimes involving a minor, Adam Walsh requires the nondiscretionary imposition of specific pretrial release conditions, including electronic monitoring and a curfew, depriving defendants of any opportunity to contest whether such conditions are necessary, and denying judges the ability to make individualized determinations as to the least restrictive bail conditions.  In this case, where the defendant is charged with receipt and possession of child pornography, the court found that electronic monitoring was not necessary to assure his appearance or the safety of the community.  Judge Pohorelsky ordered that the …


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Categories: bail, child pornography, due process

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No Reduction in Sentence Where Amendment 782 Does Not Reduce the Guidelines Range

The Second Circuit today issued a summary order affirming the denial of a reduction in sentence under 18 U.S.C. 3582(c)(2) and Amendment 782 to the Sentencing Guidelines.  In United States v. Johnson, 15-2051-cr, the Court held that because Mr. Johnson’s guideline range remained 360-life even after Amendment 782, the District Court correctly concluded he was ineligible for a Section 3582(c)(2) reduction.  Mr. Johnson’s other arguments related to possible procedural errors in the calculation of his base offense level at his original sentencing were not proper on a motion for a sentence reduction.…


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Categories: Uncategorized

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