Archive | Hobbs Act

Tuesday, September 26th, 2017

Second Circuit Reverses Skelos Convictions

In a relatively lengthy summary order, the Second Circuit reversed Dean and Adam Skelos’s convictions in light of the Supreme Court’s decision in McDonnell v. United States, 136 S. Ct. 2355 (2016). The order is available here.

Dean Skelos and his son were convicted under the Hobbs Act and the honest services and federal bribery statutes. Each of their charged offenses included the performance of an “official act” as an element. The district court’s jury instructions provided that an “official act” does “not need to be specifically described in any law, rule, or job description, but may also include acts customarily performed by a public official with a particular position.” Sum. Order at 3. Consistent with this definition, a government witness testified that the “official duties” of a state senator included “assist[ing] individuals or companies in getting meetings with state agencies.” Id. at 11. Subsequent to trial, the …


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Categories: bribery, harmless error, Hobbs Act, honest services fraud

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Thursday, March 9th, 2017

The Dismantling of the Holder Memo Begins

It looks like the work of dismantling the progress made under the Holder memo has begun.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has issued a memo directing US Attorneys to work with local law enforcement to identify the ‘criminals’ in their districts who are driving violent crime and prosecute them federally using all available tools. You can read the memo here. An additional memo on charging decisions in all criminal cases will follow.…


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Categories: 922(g), 924(c), Hobbs Act, RICO

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Monday, August 29th, 2016

Second Circuit Updates – August 29, 2016

The Second Circuit issued summary affirmances in two criminal cases today.

In United States v. Jasmin, No. 15-2546, the Court affirmed the conviction of the former mayor of Spring Valley, New York, on mail fraud and extortion charges.  The Court held that the government’s reliance at trial on a mailing not specified in the indictment was not a constructive amendment or variance of the indictment.  The government did rely on a mailing that was listed in the indictment, and Jasmin had notice of the additional mailing more than a year before trial.  The Court found there was sufficient evidence to support both convictions.  In terms of the mail fraud count, the use of the mail was foreseeable to Jasmin.

With respect to the Hobbs Act claim, the Court found the evidence sufficient to support the conviction.  Part of the proof on the interstate commerce element involved Jasmin’s travel to …


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Categories: extortion, Hobbs Act, illegal reentry

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Thursday, August 25th, 2016

Follow up on third opinion from August 24, 2016

Note, this is a follow up on the third of three opinions issued yesterday that we blogged about; see original teaser post here.

Hobbs Act robbery (the interstate commerce element); Rule 16 violation (late disclosure of defendant’s statement); defense counsel’s summation comment (case agent is an interested witness); sequestration of a witness (the case agent).

United States v. Hisan Lee, et al., Nos.11-2539; 11-2543; 11-2834; 11-4068 (Aug. 24, 2016) (Circuit Judges: Cabranes, Pooler, and Lynch).

A) A robbery that affects the “intrastate” sale of marijuana satisfies the interstate commerce element of Hobbs Act robbery (18 USC § 1951)

The defendants were part of a group (called the DeKalb Avenue Crew) that robbed dealers of cocaine and marijuana. Relying on the Circuit’s prior caselaw, the several defendants argued that evidence of an effect on interstate commerce was insufficient “because there was no evidence that any marijuana involved in the …

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Categories: Hobbs Act, summation

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Categories: Hobbs Act, summation

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Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

Second Circuit Updates – August 24, 2016 – Part 1

The Circuit issued three Opinions today that are relevant to people litigating issues of criminal law.  Below is a brief description, which will be followed up with more discussion later.

I. In Pierotti v. Walsh, No.15-1944-pr (Circuit Judges: Pooler, Livingston, and Lohier), the Circuit ruled in favor of a State prisoner. It holds that his claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, presented under 28 U.S.C. § 2254,  is not procedurally barred.

The petitioner in the case was hearing impaired since childhood and required two hearing aids.  His last hearing aid was destroyed while he was in jail awaiting trial.  The ineffective assistance of counsel (“IAC”) claim was that his trial lawyer did not take measures to ensure his hearing disability was accommodated at trial, so he could not understand much of what was occurring.

The IAC claim was not raised on direct appeal.  But it was presented in a …


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Categories: Hobbs Act, ineffective assistance of counsel, interstate commerce

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Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016

An Uphill Battle

United States v. Elvin Hill, No. 14-3872-cr (Circuit Judges: Jacobs, Livingston, and Droney).(Disclosure: This is an appeal that this Office litigated).

In this direct appeal,  Mr.  Hill argued: (1)  that Hobbs Act robbery (18 U.S.C. § 1951) did not “categorically” constitute a “crime of violence” under the “force” clause of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(3);  and (2) that Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015)  applied to the residual clause of  § 924(c)(3), which is worded similarly to that of the ACCA statute — 18 U.S.C.. § 924(e)(2)(B) — and that Johnson rendered 924(c)(3)’s residual void for vagueness. Both claims were rejected by the Circuit.

The Cateqorical approach: The Circuit stated that it was applying the “categorical approach” in determining whether the predicate crime (the Hobbs Act robbery) was a “crime of violence” under §924(c).  The categorical approach looks only to the statutory definition of the predicate …


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Categories: 924(c), crime of violence, Hobbs Act, Johnson

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More to Follow

Johnson (Bad) News:

Today, the Circuit  decided  Hill adverse to the defendant. It holds that Hobbs Act Robbery is “categorically” a “Crime of Violence” under 18 U.S.C.§ 924(c)(3).  It also holds that Johnson does not apply to § 924(c): i.e., it does not  “effectively render[]  the ‘risk-of-force clause’” of § 924(c) “void for vagueness.” United States v. Elvin Hill, No. 14-3872-cr (Jacobs, Livingston, and Droney).

We are still digesting the Opinion. More will follow.  But defense counsel will still have to raise and litigate these claims until the Supreme Court decides the issue. The Government already has a cert petition pending with the Supreme Court  based on defendant wins in the Ninth Circuit and two other circuits. This Second Circuit case clearly creates a split that the Supreme Court will most likely take on.…


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Categories: 924(c), crime of violence, Hobbs Act, Johnson

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Sunday, August 28th, 2011

Gone To Pot

United States v. Celaj, No. 10-2792-cr (2d Cir. August 22, 2011)(Miner, Cabranes, Straub, CJJ)

Din Celaj headed a crew that would rob – or try to rob – drug dealers. When successful, they would obtain drugs, which they would themselves sell, money and firearms.

He went to trial on several Hobbs Act robbery and associated 924(c) counts, was convicted, and received a 601-month sentence. On appeal, he made a sufficiency claim as to the jurisdictional element of the Hobbs Act counts where the goal was to steal marijuana. He did so despite entering into a stipulation at trial that “marijuana is grown outside of the state of New York and travels in interstate and foreign commerce to arrive in the New York City area.” The circuit affirmed.

The court began by surveying the area. In Parkes, see “Government Has No Evidence; Court Deems It Sufficient,” posted September 23, 2007, the …


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Categories: Hobbs Act, interstate commerce, marijuana, Uncategorized

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Sunday, December 19th, 2010

Labor Pains

United States v. Markle, No. 06-1600-cr (2d Cir. December 14, 2010) (Jacobs, Pooler, Parker, CJJ)

In United States v. Enmons, 410 U.S. 396 (1973), the Supreme Court held that extortion liability under the Hobbs Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1951, did not extend to violence in pursuit of “legitimate labor ends” that occurs during a lawful strike that is intended to achieve “legitimate collective-bargaining objectives.”

Defendant Markle was convicted of attempted Hobbs Act extortion after a violent confrontation arising from two unions’ turf war over the right to perform “fine sweep work” – the preparation of a floor surface before installing tile – at a construction site in upstate New York. He argued both in the district court and on appeal that Enmons precluded liability.

The circuit disagreed. The Enmons defense is not available if there is no legitimate labor union objective. Courts have generally limited the defense to the context …


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Categories: extortion, Hobbs Act, Uncategorized

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Sunday, September 23rd, 2007

Government Has No Evidence; Court Deems It Sufficient

United States v. Parkes, No. 05-1486-cr (2d Cir. August 15, 2007) (Jacobs, McLaughlin, Calabresi, CJJ).

In a sterling example of the alchemy of result-oriented jurisprudence, here the court finds sufficient evidence of an effect on interstate commerce, even though there was none.

Otis Parkes and two others planned and carried out 2003 robbery attempt in the apartment of a drug dealer. Their target was marijuana and marijuana proceeds that the dealer kept hidden in his closet. During the robbery, one of the co-conspirators shot and killed the drug dealer. Parkes went to trial on a Hobbs Act robbery conspiracy charge under 18 U.S.C. § 1951, along with other, related charges, including murder in furtherance of a crime of violence, under 18 U.S.C. § 924(j). He received a life sentence.

The government had taken the position (a typical SDNY overreach) that it did not have to prove any effect on interstate …


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Categories: Hobbs Act, interstate commerce, marijuana, sufficiency, Uncategorized

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