Archive | Davis

Wednesday, September 8th, 2021

Convictions for “actual and attempted Hobbs Act robbery” are crimes of violence under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c). And the imposition of 6 consecutive mandatory minimum prison sentences, totaling 115 years’ (based on the “stacking” of five § 924(c) convictions, running consecutively to a 10-year minimum drug sentence), doesn’t violate the Eighth Amendment. United States v.  Waite, No. 18-2651, __F.4th__, 2021 WL 3870712 (2d Cir. Aug. 31, 2021) (C.J.J. Cabranes, Raggi, Sullivan).

Waite was originally sentenced in 2011, principally to 125 years’ imprisonment based on five 924(c) counts and a drug conspiracy count. The Circuit vacated his original sentence (in 2016) because of an issue with the drug sentence. At the resentencing in March 2018, the district court subtracted 10 years from the original (20-year) drug sentence, making the new sentence 115 years, which was “the then-applicable mandatory minimum sentence for Waite’s counts of conviction”; his five § 924(c) sentences had to be “stacked” — i.e., made consecutive to each other for a total of 105 years — and the stacked 924(c) sentences had to be consecutive to the 10-year drug sentence. A few months after the resentencing, however, the First Step Act of 2018 (“FSA”) eliminated the “stacking” requirement for § 924(c) sentences.

On this appeal, Waite argued that: (1) four of his (five) § 924(c) convictions are invalid under …

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Categories: 924(c), Davis, Eighth Amendment, Johnson

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Categories: 924(c), Davis, Eighth Amendment, Johnson

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Monday, July 12th, 2021

The Second Circuit holds that the concurrent sentence doctrine applies when a defendant collaterally challenges the legality of a conviction, under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, and declines to review the § 2255 appeal. Kassir v. United States, No. 19-1477, __F.3d__ (2d Cir. July 9, 2021) (C.J.J. Jacobs, Nardini).

The Circuit applies the “discretionary” concurrent sentence doctrine because the petitioner’s 2255 motion attacked only a single count of conviction, that resulted in a 20-year sentence that is concurrent to “two terms of life in prison” on counts unchallenged. The Circuit said it was exercising its discretion “to decline” to review Mr.  Kassir’s 2255 appeal (challenging the validity of a conviction) because “[e]ven  if  his challenge were successful, our decision would  not shorten the time Kassir must remain in custody because he remains subject to two concurrent life sentences[.]” Op. at 2-3.

The Circuit holds, however, that  if, in the future, the petitioner is able to challenge his two life sentences, he may renew his 2255 challenge to the concurrent 20-year sentence. Op at 25-27.

I. The Circuit avoids deciding (i) whether Dimaya and Davis established a new rule of constitutional law, retroactive to cases on collateral review; or


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Categories: 2255, concurrent sentence doctrine, Davis, Dimaya, habeas corpus, harmless error, Johnson

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Thursday, June 24th, 2021

Challenging § 924(c) convictions based on multiple predicates after Davis.

Since the Supreme Court decided United States v. Davis, 139 S. Ct. 2319 (2019), lower courts have grappled with pre-Davis § 924(c) convictions predicated on both a valid crime of violence and a predicate offense that no longer categorically qualifies (for example, a § 924(c) conviction predicated on both a substantive Hobbs Act robbery and a Hobbs Act conspiracy). In United States v. Eldridge, No. 18-3294-cr (2d Cir. June 22, 2021), the Second Circuit provides guidance on this issue.

In Eldridge, one defendant was convicted at trial of a § 924(c) offense with three possible predicate crimes of violence: (1) kidnapping in aid of racketeering; (2) conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery; and (3) attempted Hobbs Act robbery. The trial was conducted before Davis was decided, so there was no dispute about these predicates. Following Davis, however, both parties agreed that the kidnapping and Hobbs …

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Categories: 924(c), Davis, plain error

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Thursday, April 22nd, 2021

Second Circuit Holds that Attempted Hobbs Act Robbery Is a § 924(c) “Crime of Violence.”

The Circuit ruled today in United States v. McCoy, No. 17‑1315(L) (Kearse, Parker, and Sullivan, JJ.), that the crime of attempting to commit a Hobbs Act robbery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951(a), remains a “crime of violence” under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c), even after United States v. Davis, 139 S. Ct. 2319 (2019). The Circuit had previously held that a completed Hobbs Act robbery is a “crime of violence,” United States v. Hill, 890 F.3d 51 (2d Cir. 2018), but that a conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery is not, United States v. Barrett, 927 F.3d 126 (2d Cir. 2019).

In McCoy, the Circuit rejected the defendants’ argument that attempted Hobbs Act robbery, like conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery, does not qualify as a “crime of violence” because it does not necessarily have “as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened …


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Categories: crime of violence, Davis, Hobbs Act

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Friday, October 4th, 2019

Second Circuit Panel holds residual clause definition of “crime of violence” in the Bail Reform Act is not void for vagueness

In today’s United States v. Watkins, No. 18-3076, a panel of the Second Circuit held the residual clause definition of “crime of violence” in the Bail Reform Act is not void for vagueness.

This may surprise some observers, as the Bail Reform Act’s residual clause is identical to – and subject to the same categorical approach as – the residual clauses the Supreme Court struck down for vagueness in Sessions v. Dimaya, 138 S. Ct. 1204 (2018), and United States v. Davis, 139 S. Ct. 2319 (2019).

Moreover, the Second Circuit’s ruling is plainly moot: after being denied bail, Mr. Watkins pleaded guilty and was sentenced to prison.  See United States v. Watkins, W.D.N.Y. No. 18-cr-131.  Only now, months later, has the panel weighed in on whether the residual clause of the “crime of violence” definition in the Bail Reform Act is void for vagueness.  But …


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Categories: crime of violence, Davis, Johnson, Uncategorized

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Friday, August 30th, 2019

FINAL DECISION by the Second Circuit in BARRETT

Because the residual clause of 18 U.S.C.§  924(c)(3)(B)  is unconstitutionally vague, “conspiracy” to commit Hobbs Act robbery isn’t a qualifying 924(c) predicate, since Hobbs Act conspiracy doesn’t meet the elements clause of § 924(c)(c)(3)(A). United States v. Barrett, No. 14-2641-cr, __F.3d__, 2019 WL 4121728  (Aug. 30, 2019). 

The Supreme Court vacated the Second Circuit’s original judgment that affirmed Barrett’s conviction (see 903 F.3d 166). And it remanded the case to the Circuit for further consideration in light of United States v. Davis, 139 S. Ct. 2319 (June 24, 2019). See  Barrett v. United States, 139 S.Ct. 2774 (June 28, 2019) (“petition for writ of certiorari granted. Judgment vacated, and case remanded to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit for further consideration in light of United States v. Davis[.]”).

In United States v. Davis, 139 S. Ct. 2319 (2019), the Supreme …


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

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Monday, August 5th, 2019

Second Circuit Throws Out § 924(c) Conviction Linked to Conspiracy . . . And Does Other Good Things, Including as to Rehaif

In today’s United States v. Watkins, the Second Circuit (Jacobs, Pooler, Wesley) vacated a conviction for violating 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) in relation to a conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery.  Because § 924(c)’s residual clause is “unconstitutionally vague,” United States v. Davis, 139 S. Ct. 2319, 2336 (2019), a “crime of violence” under § 924(c) is limited to an offense that “has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person or property of another.”  Because a conspiracy never fits that bill, “Watkins’s section 924(c)(1)(A) conviction” — and all others based on conspiracy — “must be vacated.”

And in United States v. Prado, the court (Leval, Pooler, Hall) threw out more convictions, this time under the Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Act.  The Coast Guard had intercepted a speed boat in international waters, found three men aboard with …


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Categories: Davis, guilty plea, jurisdiction, Rehaif

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Wednesday, June 26th, 2019

The Supreme Court held in United States v. Davis that the so-called “residual clause” of 18 U.S.C. 924(c)(3)(B) is void for vagueness

The Supreme Court held in United States v. Davis that the so-called “residual clause” of 18 U.S.C. 924(c)(3)(B) is void for vagueness. This means that the only way a crime can qualify as a “crime of violence” for purposes of Section 924(c) is under the “elements” (or “force”) clause of 18 U.S.C. 924(c)(A). That clause defines a “crime of violence” to mean “an offense that is a felony” and “has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person or property of another.”

So what happens now? Here’s a quick overview:

  1. Davis means that the Second Circuit’s decision in United States v. Barrett, 903 F.3d 166 (2d Cir. 2018), which upheld the constitutionality of the residual clause, is no longer good law. And more specifically, the Supreme Court is likely to grant the pending petition for certiorari in Barrett, vacate that
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Categories: 924(c), Davis, Hobbs Act, RICO

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