Archive | interstate commerce

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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Thursday, April 7th, 2016

Second Circuit Updates – April 7, 2016

No decisions or orders out of the Second Circuit today. Two interesting notes:

  • An attorney in Albany received a public reprimand and a two-year ban from practicing as a CJA lawyer before the Second Circuit for “engaging in conduct unbecoming a member of the bar.” The attorney had failed to file documents in a timely manner on numerous occasions in at least 3 different cases, among other unprofessional conduct. The Second Circuit found two aggravating factors in making this finding. First, that the attorney had been privately reprimanded for the same sort of behavior previously and that the “misconduct occurred in criminal appeals, where important liberty interests are at stake.” Interestingly, the panel (Cabranes, Sack, and Wesley) made clear that the order “should not be perceived” as requiring reciprocal discipline in the district court, where the attorney can still practice. (See New York Law Journal article here.)
  • Yesterday a

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Categories: ineffective assistance of counsel, interstate commerce

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Friday, August 10th, 2012

Cache Landing

United States v. Ramos, No. 10-4802-cr (2d Cir. July 2, 2012) (Winter, Raggi, Chin, CJJ)

This long opinion in a child pornography (“cp”) case tackles two interesting issues.

Background

James Ramos was on New York State parole for a sex offense; to secure his release, he agreed to a search condition, to “promptly, fully and truthfully” reply to his PO’s questions, and to “fully” comply with the PO’s instructions.  He also, obviously, had to agree to stay away from “pornographic materials.” After five years, the PO told Ramos that two new conditions, polygraph testing and GPS monitoring, were being added to his supervision. Ramos protested at first, but eventually gave in.

Before his first polygraph examination, Ramos told the examiner that he had viewed forbidden materials, including cp, on his computer several times since his release. He took the test, which was inconclusive, then signed a form admitting what he …


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Categories: child pornography, interstate commerce, self-incrimination, Uncategorized

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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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Saturday, November 6th, 2010

It’s Not In The Timing

United States v. Davis, No. 09-3636-cr (2d Cir. November 5, 2010) (Newman, Raggi, CJJ, Rakoff, DJ)

Williams Davis was convicted, after a jury trial, of inter alia, producing child pornography, and was sentenced to 120 years’ imprisonment. This opinion address the novel issue of whether the defendant must know that the pornography will be transmitted in interstate commerce at the time he produced it.

This was an unusually ugly case. Davis, who had been convicted in 1991 of sexually assaulting his daughter and niece, and in 2007 of kidnapping and raping a twelve-year-old girl, also sexually abused his step-daughter in 2006, and apparently photographed some of the activity. When his wife found out about the abuse she evicted him from their apartment, but Davis left behind a safe. Eventually, the wife gave the safe to police officers, who opened it and found CD’s containing the child pornography.

Davis was convicted …


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Categories: child pornography, interstate commerce, statutory construction, Uncategorized

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Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

Reefer Gladness

United States v. Needham, No. 06-5652-cr (2d Cir. May 14, 2010) (Cabranes, Katzmann, Parker, CJJ)

The three defendants here were part of a larger group that was in the business of robbing drug dealers of drugs and drug proceeds. They were all convicted of a Hobbs Act conspiracy, which included robberies of cocaine and heroin dealers, and each was also convicted of one substantive count involving the robbery of a marijuana dealer. Consistent with circuit law at the time, the district court instructed the jury that “all illegal drug activity, even if it is purely local in nature,” affects interstate commerce. While the defendants’ appeal was pending, the circuit held that this instruction was wrong: proof of drug trafficking does not automatically prove an affect on interstate commerce. Instead, “even in drug cases, the jury must find such an effect as part of its verdict.” Finding plain error in the …


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Categories: interstate commerce, jury charge, plain error, Uncategorized

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Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

Diner Out

United States v. Iodice, No. 06-2680-cr (2d Cir. May 6, 2008) (Straub, Pooler, Sotomayor, CJJ).

John Iodice appealed his arson conviction on the ground that there was insufficient evidence of the requisite nexus to interstate commerce. The circuit affirmed.

The building that Iodice torched had been, at one time, a diner. Its owner had purchased it, vacant, eighteen months before the fire. The diner was “complete and ready to open,” and, but for the fire, the owner was planning to move and reopen it six months later. A co-conspirator testified that the fire was intended to destroy the diner and prevent competition with another one already located near the new location.

The court rejected Iodice’s claim that the diner was not “used in” interstate commerce, as required by 18 U.S.C. § 844(i). The diner was a commercial building that was only temporarily inoperative. “[T]emporarily vacant buildings” can have a sufficient …


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Categories: arson, interstate commerce, 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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