Archive | due process

Friday, July 14th, 2023

Application of the Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Act (“MDLEA”) to foreign conspirators who were never on the high seas, and where neither the defendants nor the scheme have a nexus to the United States, does not violate Due Process or Article I.

In United States v. Antonius, No. 21-1083 (2d Cir. July 10, 2023) (Calabresi, Lynch, and Robinson), the Second Circuit affirmed the convictions of three land-based foreign nationals for conspiracy to traffic drugs on the high seas using a stateless vessel where neither the defendants nor the conspiracy had any connection to the United States. The defendants had never been on the high seas but conspired from land to send drugs from Guyana to the Netherlands on the high seas in a stateless vessel. The Circuit had previously held that MDLEA reached foreign land-based conspirators whose plan involved no travel through United States waters but who had minor contact with the United States in furtherance of the conspiracy. United States v. Alarcon-Sanchez, 972 F.3d 156 (2d Cir. 2022).The Antonius defendants argued that their prosecution under the MDLEA statute violated due process because their conduct had no nexus …

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Categories: due process, extraterritorial jurisdiction, MDLEA

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Monday, November 23rd, 2020

Second Circuit affirms conviction of payday-loan lender on RICO and Truth in Lending Act (“TILA”) charges. United States v. Moseley, __F.3d__, No. 18-2003-cr, 2020 WL 6437737 (2d Cir. Nov. 3, 2020) (Circuit Judges: Kearse, Carney, Bianco).

In  United States v. Moseley, No.18-2003, 2020 WL 5523210 (2d Cir. Nov. 3,  2020) , the Second Circuit holds that the choice-of-law provisions in the defendant’s payday-loan agreements — which named  3 jurisdictions that don’t have usury laws — were unenforceable under New York law, so  the usury laws of New York applied in the case of loans to New York residents. And, here, the RICO counts were based on New York domiciled  borrowers . The agreements also didn’t sufficiently disclose the total payments the borrower would have to make on the loans, as required by TILA.

The loans

Richard Moseley operated a payday-loan business, between 2004 and 2014,  in which he “lent money to borrowers in New York and other states at interest rates exceeding —by many multiples—the maximum legal interest rates allowed in those states; in its loan documents, it failed to meet TILA disclosure requirements; and …

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Categories: due process, hearsay, RICO, Sixth Amendment

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Tuesday, July 30th, 2019

Acquit First, Sentence Later?

The Second Circuit, like other federal circuits, has long held that the Due Process Clause permits a sentencing court to take into account conduct for which the defendant was acquitted (so-called “acquitted conduct”). See, e.g., United States v. Vaughn, 430 F.3d 518, 521 (2d Cir. 2005). But the Michigan Supreme Court just held otherwise: “Once acquitted of a given crime, it violates due process to sentence the defendant as if he committed that very same crime.” People v. Beck, No. 152934 (Mich. July 29, 2019).

The Court’s holding was based on the United States Constitution (rather than the Michigan Constitution). Thus, the state of Michigan could reasonably decide to petition for certiorari in the Supreme Court of the United States.

Given this possibility, and the chance that the Supreme Court of the United States will grant review and ultimately agree with Beck, you may wish to …

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Friday, June 15th, 2018

Sua Sponte, Post-Dimaya Order Granting Leave to File a Successive 2255 Motion

On the post-Dimaya front, the Second Circuit gave us some good—but easily overlooked—news last week. See Acosta v. United States, No. 16-1492 (2d Cir. 2018) (Jacobs, Livingston, Droney) (clerk’s order). In a sua sponte order, available here, the Circuit granted leave to file a successive 2255 petition arguing that a conviction under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(3)(B) is unconstitutional.

Here’s the analysis:

Petitioner has “made a prima facie showing that his claim satisfies § 2255(h) and warrants fuller exploration by the district court.” Blow v. United States, 829 F.3d 170, 172 (2d Cir. 2016).

Section § 924(c)(3)(B) is essentially identical to 18 U.S.C. § 16(b), which was found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in Sessions v. Dimaya, 138 S. Ct. 1204 (2018), largely based on the Supreme Court’s analysis in Johnson. The Supreme Court has held Johnson to be retroactively applicable to cases on collateral review.

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Categories: 924(c), categorical approach, due process

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Wednesday, April 18th, 2018

More on Dimaya

Courtesy of Sentencing Resource Counsel Sissy Phleger.  (See yesterday’s post for a quick take on Dimaya‘s implications for the Second Circuit’s holding, in United States v. Elvin Hill, that § 924(c)(3)’s residual clause is not constitutionally vague).

Today, in Sessions v. Dimaya, the Supreme Court struck down the residual clause in 18 U.S.C. § 16(b) as unconstitutionally vague. Kagan authored the opinion, joined by Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and in operative part, Gorsuch. Though it turned on the constitutionality of § 16(b)—a broadly applicable criminal statute—the case itself was an immigration proceeding in which the petitioner was challenging his pending deportation for an aggravated felony. The definition of aggravated felony in the Immigration and Nationality Act includes crimes of violence defined by § 16(b). 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(43)(F).

Section 16(b) defines “crime of violence” as any felony “that, by its nature, involves a substantial risk that physical …

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Categories: 924(c), ACCA, categorical approach, due process, INA

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Tuesday, April 17th, 2018

Big Dimaya Win!

Today, in Sessions v. Dimaya, the Supreme Court held in a long-awaited, 5-4 opinion that the  residual clause definition of a “crime of violence” incorporated by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 18 U.S.C. § 16(b), is unconstitutionally vague. Justice Kagan wrote the majority opinion, which Justice Gorsuch joined in relevant parts while also writing an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment. The opinions are available here. We will try to provide a deeper account of Dimaya in the near future. In the meantime, here is a quick summary of the majority opinion and a take on its implications.

The INA makes non-citizens removable, and ineligible for cancellation of removal, if they have been convicted of an “aggravated felony” after entering the United States. 8 U.S.C. §§  1227(a)(2)(3), 1229(b)(a)(3), (b)(1)(C). The Act defines “aggravated felony” to include a “crime of violence” as defined under 18 …

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Categories: 924(c), ACCA, categorical approach, due process, INA

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Friday, October 6th, 2017

Recent Cert. Grants

The Supreme Court granted certiorari on a number of criminal cases in orders from its September 25 conference. The details are below, courtesy of Sentencing Resource Counsel:

City of Hays, Kansas v. Vogt, No. 16-1495
Question Presented: Whether the Fifth Amendment is violated when statements are used at a probable cause hearing but not at a criminal trial.

Cert papers and opinion below available here:

Collins v. Virginia, No. 16-1027
Question Presented: Whether the Fourth Amendment’s automobile exception permits a police officer, uninvited and without a warrant, to enter private property, approach a house and search a vehicle parked a few feet from the house.

Cert papers and opinion below available here:

Byrd v. United States, No. 16-1371
Question Presented: Does a driver have a reasonable expectation of privacy in a rental car when he has the renter’s permission to drive the car but is …

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Categories: certiorari, due process, Fifth Amendment, Fourth Amendment, plain error, probable cause

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Wednesday, April 13th, 2016

EDNY Update: Judge Pohorelsky Finds Adam Walsh Act Mandatory Bail Provision Unconstitutional, Judge DeArcy Hall Reverses Bail Determination

On Friday, in the EDNY, Magistrate Judge Viktor V. Pohorelsky found that the Adam Walsh Amendments to the Bail Reform Act violate the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment and the Excessive Bail Clause of the Eighth Amendment.  The case was United States v. Kim, 16-mj-280 (VVP), and the transcript is available here: Kim_16MJ280_Transcript 4.8.16.

For those charged with crimes involving a minor, Adam Walsh requires the nondiscretionary imposition of specific pretrial release conditions, including electronic monitoring and a curfew, depriving defendants of any opportunity to contest whether such conditions are necessary, and denying judges the ability to make individualized determinations as to the least restrictive bail conditions.  In this case, where the defendant is charged with receipt and possession of child pornography, the court found that electronic monitoring was not necessary to assure his appearance or the safety of the community.  Judge Pohorelsky ordered that the …

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Categories: bail, child pornography, due process

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Sunday, October 14th, 2012

Bail Doubt

United States v. Briggs, No. 12-2988-cr (2d Cir. October 5, 2012) (Calabresi, Carney, CJJ)

Antonio Briggs, charged in a large, multi-defendant drug conspiracy, was ordered detained in September of 2010, and remains in jail today. In this appeal, he claimed that this lengthy pretrial detention deprived him of due process. 

The circuit, although clearly concerned with the length of the delay, held that there was as yet no due process violation. However, the court directed that the district court either commence his trial, or set reasonable bail for him, on or before February 1, 2013.

The circuit noted that the reasons cited by the district court for detaining Briggs in the first instance were sound: it was a presumption case, and both Briggs’ sentencing exposure and the strength of the government’s evidence supported the initial detention order. And here, much of the two-plus-year-delay, although not necessarily Briggs’ fault, resulted from “repeated motions,” …

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Categories: detention, due process, Uncategorized

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Wednesday, December 16th, 2009


United States v. Hester, No. 08-4665-cr (2d Cir. December 16, 2009) (Winter, Cabranes, Hall CJJ) (per curiam)

After pleading guilty to two sex offenses in New York State, Hester was required to register as a sex offender. He completed his initial registration – which included explicit instructions that Hester update if he moved or changed jobs – and four change of address forms. Then, in April of 2007, he disappeared. Three months later, Hester was arrested on unrelated charges in Florida. He had neither registered as a sex offender there nor updated his New York registration.

Hester pled guilty to violating the Sex Offender Registration Act, “SORNA,” 18 U.S.C. § 2250(a), and was sentenced to 37 months’ imprisonment. On appeal, he raised three unsuccessful challenges to the statute: a due process claim that he had unsuccessfully litigated below and Commerce Clause and vagueness challenges that he had not.

The due …

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Categories: appeal waiver, due process, Sex offender registration, Uncategorized

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Monday, August 31st, 2009

Delay Gratification

United States v. Ray, No. 08-2795-cr (2d Cir. August 27, 2009)(Leval, Cabranes, Livingstone, CJJ)

In this decision, the court holds that an unexplained and prejudicial fifteen-year delay in imposing sentence amounted to a Fifth-Amendment due process violation, but did not violate the Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial.


In 1991, Ray pled guilty to her role in a $200,000 bank fraud. In 1992, the district court, unmoved by her family circumstances, sentenced her to twelve months’ imprisonment, the bottom of the then-mandatory range. Ray, who was free on bail, appealed. While her appeal was pending, the court of appeals decided a different case that eased somewhat the standard for family circumstances departures. As a result, with the government in agreement, Ray moved for a remand. The circuit granted the motion on January 21, 1993, but neither the district court nor the government took any further action on the …

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Categories: due process, speedy sentencing, speedy trial, Uncategorized

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