United States v. Quinones, No. 04-5554 (2d Cir. December 28, 2007) (Winter, Cabranes, Raggi, CJJ)
This case has lengthy discussions of two important issues. It turns out that the one that has received the less press is actually the more interesting of the two, so we’ll begin with that.
1. Sentencing Error Waived
Facts: In this capital case, the defendants initially faced three counts that exposed them to the death penalty. Two related to murder in aid of racketeering under 18 U.S.C. § 1959; for these, a life sentence was mandatory if death was not imposed. The defendants were acquitted of these counts.
They were convicted only of murder in relation to a continuing drug enterprise (“CCE”) under 21 U.S.C. § 848(e). At the time, that section provided for a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment and a maximum of life if death was not imposed. Nevertheless, the defendants …