Author Archive | Daniel Habib

Wednesday, August 19th, 2020

Circuit Reverses Convictions For Aiding And Abetting VICAR Murder For Insufficient Evidence

In United States v. Anastasio, the Circuit (Carney, joined by Jacobs and Pooler), reversed two convictions for aiding and abetting VICAR murder, 18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(1), for insufficient evidence. Specifically, the Circuit held that Anastasio undertook no affirmative act that facilitated the murders; he had merely been in the company of the murderers, without offering any assistance, before and after (but not during) the shootings.

Anastasio was a member of the 10th Street Gang in Buffalo. Members of a rival gang shot and injured the brother of a 10th Street member, Delgado. Later that day, 10th Streeters, including Anastasio, beat someone they believed belonged to the rival gang. Still later that day, 10th Streeters, again including Anastasio, met at an apartment to discuss further retaliation. Delgado told those present of his plan to shoot at members of the rival gang and instructed everyone present to find guns. Several did …


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Categories: aiding and abetting, Batson, RICO

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Circuit Vacates LWOP Sentence Based On Inadequate Consideration Of Juvenile Offender’s Age

In United States v. Delgado, the Circuit (Pooler, joined by Jacobs and Carney) vacated a life sentence imposed on a 17-year-old convicted of two murders, on the ground that the district court had failed to give the requisite consideration to the defendant’s age, as required by Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012), and Montgomery v. Louisiana, 136 S. Ct. 718 (2016).

Delgado was a gang member in Buffalo. A rival gang shot and injured Delgado’s brother. In retaliation, Delgado attacked members of the rival gang, but wound up shooting and killing two bystanders instead. He was 17 at the time. After a jury trial, Delgado was convicted of multiple offenses arising from his long-term gang membership, including RICO conspiracy (predicated in part on the murders), drug conspiracy, and § 924(c). The district court (Arcara, WDNY) sentenced him to life.

The Circuit vacated the life sentence. The …

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Categories: 3553(a), 924(c), Batson, bruton, RICO

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Categories: 3553(a), 924(c), Batson, bruton, RICO

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Wednesday, July 29th, 2020

Second Circuit: 31-Day Delay In Seeking Warrant To Search Seized Tablet Computer Violates Fourth Amendment, But Suppression Not Warranted Because Delay Resulted From Mere “Isolated Negligence.”

In United States v. Smith, the Circuit (Meyer, D. Conn., joined by Katzmann and Kearse), the Circuit held that police violated the Fourth Amendment by waiting 31 days before seeking a warrant to search a seized tablet computer, but declined to apply the exclusionary rule because the error was due to “isolated negligence,” and because existing precedent would not have told an objectively reasonable police officer that the delay was unreasonable.

Police encountered Smith, drunk to the point of unconsciousness, in his car on the side of the road in a rural area of upstate New York. After removing Smith from the car, and while searching the car for identification, an officer observed a tablet computer on the front passenger seat displaying what appeared to be child pornography. The officer arrested Smith for DUI and seized the tablet. Smith was released and refused consent to search the tablet. However, …


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Categories: child pornography, Exclusionary Rule, Fourth Amendment

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Friday, April 24th, 2020

Second Circuit: Reduced Guidelines Range Not A Prerequisite For First Step Act Relief

In United States v. Holloway, No. 19-1035 (available here), the Circuit (Nardini, joined by Parker and Livingston), held that a motion for a sentence reduction pursuant to Section 404 of the First Step Act of 2018 is governed by 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(B), not § 3582(c)(2). Consequently, the limitations in U.S.S.G. § 1B1.10 do not apply, and a defendant need not show that application of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 would reduce his Guidelines range in order to demonstrate his eligibility for First Step Act relief.

Here, the defendant was convicted of a 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A) crack offense with a prior felony information, resulting in a statutory sentencing range of 20 years to life. Because he was a career offender, his Guidelines range was 262–327 months. In light of the defendant’s cooperation, the district court sentenced him, pre-Fair Sentencing Act, to 168 months. After the passage …

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Categories: 3582(c)(2), First Step Act

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Categories: 3582(c)(2), First Step Act

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Tuesday, April 21st, 2020

Second Circuit: Witness Retaliation, 18 U.S.C. § 1513(b)(1), Does Not Require Proof That The Defendant Knew The Federal Nature Of The Proceeding In Which The Witness Testified.

In United States v. Cotto (available here), the Circuit (Leval, joined by Livingston and Bianco) held that the offense of witness retaliation, 18 U.S.C. § 1513(b)(1), does not require proof that the defendant knew the federal nature of the proceeding in which the witness testified.

Section 1513(b)(1) applies to one who “knowingly engages in any conduct, and thereby causes bodily injury to another person … or threatens to do so, with intent to retaliate against any person for … the attendance of a witness or party at an official proceeding, or any testimony given … by a witness in an official proceeding.” An “official proceeding” is defined to include “a proceeding before a court of judge of the United States.” 18 U.S.C. § 1515(a)(1). Section 1513(b)(1) does require proof “that the defendant acted with retaliatory intent arising out of a person’s testimony at an ‘official proceeding,’ and that the …

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Categories: witness retaliation

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Categories: witness retaliation

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Friday, January 10th, 2020

EDNY: Attempted Hobbs Act Robbery Is Not A § 924(c) Crime of Violence.

In United States v. Tucker, 2020 WL 93951 (E.D.N.Y. Jan. 8, 2020), the district court (Johnson, J.), held that attempted Hobbs Act robbery is not a crime of violence under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c), and granted defendant’s pretrial motion to dismiss a § 924(c) count predicated on that offense.

Tucker reasons as follows: An attempt requires only a substantial step toward completing the object crime, and for Hobbs Act robbery, “the Second Circuit has found ‘reconnoitering the place contemplated for the commission of the crime’ or possession of ‘paraphernalia to be employed in the commission of the crime’ to be sufficient to constitute a ‘substantial step.’” Tucker, 2020 WL 93951, at *5 (quoting United States v. Jackson, 560 F.2d 112, 120 (2d Cir. 1977)). Such conduct is not necessarily forceful or violent:

“[A] person may engage in an overt act—in the case of robbery, for example, … …


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

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Thursday, January 9th, 2020

Circuit Vacates Sentence Based on District Court’s Misunderstanding of Authority to Impose Anticipatory Concurrent Sentence; Declines to Enforce Appeal Waiver Where Government Consents to Partial Remand.

In United States v. Anderson, ___ F.3d ___, No. 18-1839 (2d Cir. Jan. 9, 2020) (Jacobs, Sack, Hall), the Circuit vacated and remanded a 120-month sentence based on two errors: (1) the district court misunderstood its authority to order that the federal sentence run concurrently with a yet-to-be-imposed state parole violation sentence; and (2) the district court misunderstood its authority to reduce the federal sentence below the mandatory minimum to account for time already served on an undischarged state sentence for relevant conduct. In doing so, the Circuit declined to enforce the appeal waiver in the defendant’s plea agreement, based in part on the government’s consent to a partial remand.

This decision arises from one of the most confusing areas of federal sentencing: the interaction of federal and state sentences for related conduct. While on parole for a Pennsylvania state drug conviction, defendant was arrested and charged …

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Categories: mandatory minimum, sentence

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Categories: mandatory minimum, sentence

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Tuesday, June 25th, 2019

SDNY: Judge Castel Rules That 21 U.S.C. 846 Is Not A “Controlled Substance Offense” Under The Guidelines

Monday, in United States v. Sprull, 18 Cr. 665, Judge Castel ruled that a prior conviction under 21 U.S.C. 846 is not a controlled substance offense under U.S.S.G. 4B1.2(b). Judge Castel agreed with Judge Oetken’s analysis in United States v. Wilson, 18 Cr. 12, and ruled that under the categorical approach, 846 has no overt act requirement, whereas the generic offense of “conspiring” under Application Note 1 to 4B1.2(b) does. As a result, 846 is a categorical mismatch for the Guidelines predicate. We have requested the transcript and will circulate it. We also have briefing on this issue for anyone who’s interested.

The question is currently pending before the Second Circuit in United States v. Tabb, No. 18-338 (briefing complete; oral argument not scheduled yet).…

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Categories: career offender

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Categories: career offender

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Monday, June 17th, 2019

En banc Sixth Circuit Holds That Guidelines “Controlled Substance Offenses” Do Not Include Attempts

In United States v. Havis, the en banc Sixth Circuit held, unanimously, that a Tennessee state offense criminalizing the attempted delivery of a controlled substance was not a “controlled substance offense,” for purposes of U.S.S.G. §§ 2K2.1 and 4B1.2. ___ F.3d ___, 2019 WL 2376070 (6th Cir. June 6, 2019) (en banc). Overruling prior Circuit precedent, the Court explained that attempts appear only in Application Note 1 to § 4B1.2(b), not in the text of the Guideline itself. Consequently, the inclusion of attempts was not an interpretation of § 4B1.2(b)’s text, to which deference would be owed under Stinson v. United States, 508 U.S. 36 (1993), but rather an addition to § 4B1.2(b)’s text, due no deference at all:

To make attempt crimes a part of § 4B1.2(b), the Commission did not interpret a term in the guideline itself—no term in § 4B1.2(b) would bear that …

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Categories: Uncategorized

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Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

Circuit Affirms Life Sentence for Leader of Violent Drug Trafficking Organization

There were no published opinions today.

In an unpublished opinion, United States v. Fernandini, No. 14-2203, the Second Circuit affirmed a within-Guidelines life sentence for the leader of a violent drug trafficking organization over procedural and substantive reasonableness challenges.

Fernandini pleaded guilty to (i) conspiracy to traffic narcotics; (ii) using a firearm to commit murder in furtherance of the conspiracy, 18 U.S.C. § 924(j)(1); and (iii) discharging the firearm in furtherance of the conspiracy, § 924(c)(1)(A)(iii). In affirming, the Circuit noted that “Fernandini was the leader of a notorious and ruthless gang for nearly a decade.  As gang leader, he significantly increased the quantity of narcotics the organization imported and enforced the organization’s territory with violence, including killing or ordering the killing of rival gang members.”

On the government’s consent, however, the Circuit vacated the § 924(c)(1)(A)(iii) discharging count, as it was a lesser included offense of the § …

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Categories: 924(c), guideline, life

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Categories: 924(c), guideline, life

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