Archive | double jeopardy

Thursday, June 28th, 2018

Recap of Supreme Court Decisions in Carpenter and Currier

As we mourn Justice Kennedy’s retirement, Sentencing Resource Counsel Sissy Phleger has graciously allowed us to post her summaries of the Supreme Court’s recent decisions in Carpenter v. United States (opinion available here) and Currier v. Virginia (opinion available here):

First, in the eagerly-anticipated Carpenter v. United States, the Court held that the government’s acquisition of Mr. Carpenter’s cellphone location records was a Fourth Amendment search. Roberts wrote for the majority, joined by Kagan, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Ginsburg. All the dissenters filed separate opinions (and variously join in each other’s). While the majority opinion is at pains to confine its impact, this is a great win with potential implications far beyond its specific circumstances.

Mr. Carpenter had challenged the use of warantlessly-obtained historical cell-site location records used to convict him of a string of armed robberies. He argued that the records constituted a search, and thus required …

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Categories: cell phone location information, double jeopardy, Fourth Amendment

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Monday, October 16th, 2017

Today’s Cert. Grants

Today the Supreme Court granted certiorari in two criminal cases:

Dahda v. United States, No. 17-43
Question Presented: Whether Title III of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, 18 U.S.C. 2510-2520, requires suppression of evidence obtained pursuant to a wiretap order that is facially insufficient because the order exceeds the judge’s territorial jurisdiction.

Cert. papers and opinion below available here:

Dahda v. United States

Currier v. Virginia, No. 16-1348
Question Presented: Whether a defendant who consents to severance of multiple charges into sequential trials loses his right under the Double Jeopardy Clause to the issue preclusive effect of an acquittal.

Cert. papers and opinion below available here:

Currier v. Virginia

Based on the cert. petitions — but not verified by independent research — it appears that the Second Circuit has not weighed in on the question presented in either case.…

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Categories: double jeopardy, wiretaps

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Thursday, December 1st, 2016

Supreme Court Rejects Double Jeopardy Claim

On Tuesday, in Bravo-Fernandez v. United States, the Court decided that, when a jury has returned inconsistent verdicts in a multi-count criminal case—acquittals on some counts but a conviction on another—and the conviction is subsequently vacated on appeal because of erroneous jury instructions, the double jeopardy clause does not preclude the government from retrying the defendant on the count that produced the conviction. Because “inconsistent verdicts shroud in mystery what the jury necessarily decided,” the Court ruled, the issue preclusion doctrine of Ashe v. Swenson cannot be applied.

The defendants were indicted in separate counts for federal bribery, conspiracy to commit that bribery, and traveling in furtherance of the bribery. Because the defendants conceded that they had both agreed and travelled, “the only contested issue at trial” was whether the offense of bribery had in fact been committed. At trial, the jury acquitted on the conspiracy and travel counts …

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Categories: bribery, double jeopardy

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Categories: bribery, double jeopardy

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Sunday, November 20th, 2011

Making a Skilling in Albany

United States v. Bruno, No. 10-1887-cr (2d Cir. November 16, 2011) (Parker, Chin, CJJ, Korman, DJ)

The story of Joe Bruno, former New York State Senate Majority Leader, is fairly well known. Having seemingly turned his position into a veritable cesspool of self-interested profiteering, he was ultimately convicted of two counts “honest services” fraud – the jury hung on a third, and acquitted him of several others. Consistent with the law at the time, however, the fraud was charged only as a failure to disclose various conflicts of interest.

While Bruno’s appeal was pending, the Supreme Court decided United States v. Skilling, 130 S.Ct. 2896 (2010), which held that the honest services statute criminalizes only fraudulent schemes that are effectuated through bribery or kickbacks. In light of Skilling, was inevitable that Bruno’s convictions would have to be tossed. The only real suspense was whether the Circuit would acquit him or …

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Categories: double jeopardy, honest services fraud, Uncategorized

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Sunday, August 14th, 2011

Rowe, Rowe, Rowe, You’re Toast

United States v Jackson, No. 07-0263-cr (2d Cir. August 4, 2011)

Leval, Lynch, CJJ, Korman, DJ)

Appellant Derrick Rowe, charged with a drug-related murder, had three trials. At the first, he was convicted of only drug trafficking and possession of ammunition, but the jury hung on three other counts – murder, § 924(c) and § 924(j). The court sentenced him to 32 years. At the second, the jury hung on all of the remaining counts. At the third, Rowe was convicted of the three open counts and received a 45-year concurrent sentence.

On appeal, his primary claim was that, at the third trial, the district court erred in allowing the government to play portions of his some of his prison phone calls without allowing him to play other portions under the Fed. R. Evid. 106 “rule of completeness.” The circuit found no abuse of discretion. In he first conversation, Rowe …

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Categories: double jeopardy, Uncategorized

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Saturday, March 27th, 2010

A Pattern Emerges

United States v. Basciano, NO. 09-0281-cr (2d Cir. March 23, 2010) (Walker, McLaughlin, Raggi, CJJ)

On this interlocutory appeal, the circuit found that an indictment charging Basciano, who had previously been convicted of racketeering in conducting the affairs of the Bonanno crime family, with a successive racketeering count violated the Double Jeopardy Clause, because both counts alleged the same pattern of racketeering.


1. The 2003 Indictment

Basciano and several co-defendants were originally charged in a 2003 Indictment with racketeering conspiracy and several other counts. The jury convicted Basciano of the racketeering conspiracy, but was unable to reach a verdict on some of the other counts. In preparing to retry him on the 2003 Indictment, the government superseded and added a substantive racketeering count. That count alleged that, from January 1979 through November 2004, Basciano conducted and participated in the conduct of the affairs of the Family through a pattern …

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Categories: double jeopardy, Uncategorized

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Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

The Acquittal That Wasn’t

United States v. McCourty, No. 07-3862-cr (2d Cir. April 9, 2009) (Miner, Sotomayor, Katzmann, CJJ)


At McCourty’s drug trial, one of the counts in the indictment alleged that he possessed with the intent to distribute both a quantity of cocaine and more than five grams of crack. The facts underlying this count were unusual: McCourty ran away from some police officers and dropped a bag containing a small amount of both drugs on the street. Twenty minutes late, the officer found him at his grandmother’s apartment wearing a backpack that contained more than five grams of crack.

Before trial, defense counsel noted a duplicity “problem” with this count and asked for a “special interrogatory” to avoid a general verdict that would not reveal the type or quantity of drugs the jury found that McCourty had possessed. The district judge addressed this problem in the verdict sheet, which split the …

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Categories: constructive amendment, double jeopardy, Uncategorized

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Friday, February 6th, 2009


United States v. Irving, No. 07-1312-cr (2d Cir. January 28, 2009)(Kearse, Sack, Raggi, CJJ)

Stefan Irving is a former physician who was convicted, after a jury trial, of child pornography offenses, and several other counts relating to his travel to Mexico and Honduras to engage in sexual acts with children. The district court sentenced him to 262 months’ imprisonment, the top of the Guideline range. A 2005 Second Circuit decision disposed of his trial-related claims. This opinion, which arose in the context of the district court’s decision to adhere to the original sentence after a Crosby remand, disposes of his sentencing claims.

Irving’s Guidelines claims are not particularly interesting. First, he unsuccessfully challenged the district court’s choice of Chapter 2 offense conduct guidelines, but the court’s choices were clearly correct under the relevant instructions in the Guidelines manual.

He also challenged the “vulnerable victim” enhancement, claiming that his victims’ vulnerability …

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Categories: child pornography, double jeopardy, Uncategorized, vulnerable victim

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Friday, November 2nd, 2007

Who’s SORA Now?

Willette v. Fischer, No. 06-1422-pr (2d Cir. October 29, 2007) (Meskill, Newman, Sotomayor, CJJ)

Although the Blog does not regularly report on decisions in state prisoners’ habeas corpus proceedings, this nifty case has relevance to federal criminal practice.

Steven Willette, a convicted sex offender in New York State, was tried and convicted, inter alia, of multiple violations of New York’s Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA). During 1997 and 1998, Willette was living with his girlfriend but, on the four occasions that he was supposed to report his address (SORA prescribed ninety-day intervals), he falsely stated that he was still living with his father. Willette was found guilty of four SORA counts of failing to report change of address. He received a six-month misdemeanor sentence on the first SORA count, and three consecutive felony sentences on the others, for a total of ten and one half to twenty-one years’ imprisonment.

Here, …

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Categories: double jeopardy, multiple punishments, Sex offender registration, Uncategorized

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Saturday, September 29th, 2007

Double Trouble, But Not Double Jeopardy

United States v. Dionisio, Docket No. 06-0908-cr (2d Cir. September 17, 2007) (Calabresi, Wesley, CJJ, Oberdorfer, DJ)

This case presented a question open that the Circuit has never addressed: does jeopardy attach to counts that were dismissed with prejudice by the government pursuant to a plea agreement? Reviewing the framework set by a line of Supreme Court cases, the Circuit concluded that the answer to this question is “possibly, but not here.”

Dioniso pled guilty in 2001 under plea agreement in which the government agreed to dismiss certain racketeering charges with prejudice, and ultimately did so. In 2004, despite its promise, the government indicted him on suspiciously similar charges, and he moved to dismiss the new indictment as a violation of the Double Jeopardy Clause. The district court held that, per se, jeopardy never attaches to a pretrial dismissal.

The Circuit disagreed with this ruling, although not the ultimate outcome, …

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Categories: dismissal, double jeopardy, interlocutory, plea agreement, prejudice, Uncategorized

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Sunday, September 23rd, 2007

Attorney’s Quick Change Of Heart Saves The Day

United States v. Razmilovic, No. 06-4198-cr (2d Cir. August 27, 2007) (Miner, Kaztmann, CJJ, Murtha, DJ).

Here, the district court’s precipitate grant of a mistrial barred the reprosecution of the defendants under the Double Jeopardy Clause.

At the end of a six-week fraud trial, and only 3 days of deliberation, the jury sent out a note, its first of this kind, saying that it was “at a dead lock. We have exhausted all our options.” The only action Judge Wexler took was to ask whether any defendant sought a mistrial. When two defendants so moved, the judge granted it.

Covering well trod ground, the Circuit concluded that there was no “manifest necessity” for a mistrial at such an early point, and thus that the two defendants who objected to the mistrial could not be reprosecuted. The court considered the complexity of the trial, the length of the deliberations, the fact …

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Categories: deadlock, double jeopardy, Fifth Amendment, mistrial, Uncategorized

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