Archive | equal protection

Sunday, December 19th, 2010

Equal Rejection

United States v. Thomas, No. 09-4335-cr (2d Cir. December 16, 2010) (Jacobs, Kearse, Straub, CJJ)

The circuit has twice upheld strict liability nature of the “stolen gun” enhancement, currently codified as U.S.S.G. § 2K2.1(b)(4)(A). Here, the defendant raised the issue again, arguing that Apprendi and its progeny have undermined the circuit precedent on this point, and also made an equal protection claim.

The circuit affirmed. Apprendi does not apply because the enhancement does not alter the statutory maximum penalty, and the Booker line does not affect the analysis, because those cases “concern the advisory nature of the Guidelines” and not “the validity of any particular guideline.”

Thomas also argued that “emerging data” indicated that many firearms are erroneously reported stolen and that this should cause the court to revisit the issue. The court disagreed, finding that this data “actually reinforce[d]” the existing rule. Guns that are falsely reported as stolen …


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Categories: equal protection, Uncategorized

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Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

Publish and Perish

United States v. Samas, No 05-5213-cr (2d Cir. March 24, 2009) (Jacobs, Wesley, Hall, CJJ) (per curiam)

This case was originally decided by summary order in December of 2009. On the government’s motion, the court withdrew the summary order and issued this published decision in its place.

The decision resolves two recurring claims with respect to mandatory minimum sentences. First, the court has long held that the federal drug statutes’ disparate treatment of cocaine and crack offenses does not violate equal protection. Samas made the same equal protection claim here, arguing that the issue should be reconsidered in light of Kimbrough. The circuit disagreed: “Kimbrough bears upon the discretion of district judge to sentence within the maximum and minimum sentence ‘brackets’ [but] does not disturb our precedents rejecting challenges to the constitutionality of the mandatory sentencing scheme” for drug cases.

Samas also argued that the parsimony clause in § 3553(a) …


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Categories: equal protection, mandatory minimum, Uncategorized

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Saturday, April 19th, 2008

Cracked Up

United States v. Lee, No. 06-4933-cr (2d Cir. April 17, 2008) (Cabranes, Wesley, CJJ, Castel, DJ)

Defendant Cathy Lee received a 120-month sentence, the mandatory minimum, in a crack trafficking case. She raised on appeal a host of constitutional and statutory challenges to her sentence, claiming that it violated § 3535(a), the Eighth Amendment, and equal protection, in light of the powder-vs-crack sentencing disparities.

The court held that these claims were waived by the appellate waiver in Lee’s plea agreement. Although such waivers will not be enforced when an “arguably unconstitutional” consideration influenced the sentencing, there was no such consideration here. The equal protection argument with respect to crack sentences is a claim about the statute itself, not a claim that the court considered an improper factor at sentencing. Moreover, the court rejected the equal protection statutory argument nearly fifteen years ago, and no subsequent legal development – including Kimbrough …


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Categories: appeal waiver, crack, equal protection, Uncategorized

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