Archive | equal protection

Thursday, October 25th, 2018

Interesting 9th Circuit Reverse Stash House Opinion

In a recent opinion, the Ninth Circuit held that selective enforcement claims in reverse stash-house sting operations are not subject to the nearly impossible-to-surmount discovery standard set forth in United States v. Armstrong, 517 U.S. 457 (1996).  See United States v. Sellers, 16-50061 (9th Cir. 2018), opinion available here.

Chief Federal Public Defender Jon Sands, who posts on the excellent Ninth Circuit Blog, has this summary:

In US v. Sellers, No. 16-50061 (10-15-18) (Nguyen w/Simon; Nguyen concurring; Graber dissenting), the panel majority held that in stash house reverse-sting cases, claims of selective enforcement are governed by a less rigorous standard than that applied to claims of selective prosecution under US v. Armstrong, 517 US 456 (1996). The 9th emphasizes the difference between selective prosecution and selective enforcement (9). The 9th stresses that the police do not enjoy the enforcement presumption of prosecutors and …

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Categories: equal protection, selective enforcement, stash house, sting

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Friday, September 8th, 2017

Selective Enforcement and Fictitious Stash Houses: Important Third Circuit Case

Last week, in United States v. Washington, the Third Circuit held that selective enforcement claims against law enforcement officers are not subject to the insurmountable discovery standard that has long thwarted selective prosecution claims. This opinion is the product of a nationwide effort to challenge the racially selective use of fictitious stash house stings.

These stings permit the government to script its enforcement practices to trigger harsh mandatory minimums.  Troublingly, Columbia Law School professor Jeffrey Fagan has found powerful evidence that the government selectively targets people of color for these sting operations. As we have previously written, the University of Chicago Law School’s Federal Criminal Justice Clinic (FCJC) is working with attorneys nationwide to challenge this discriminatory practice.

With Washington, these attorneys scored an important victory.  Professor Alison Siegler, Director of FCJC, offers this writeup:

I’m writing to note a truly groundbreaking aspect of United States

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Categories: equal protection, selective enforcement, stash house

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Sunday, December 19th, 2010

Equal Rejection

United States v. Thomas, No. 09-4335-cr (2d Cir. December 16, 2010) (Jacobs, Kearse, Straub, CJJ)

The circuit has twice upheld strict liability nature of the “stolen gun” enhancement, currently codified as U.S.S.G. § 2K2.1(b)(4)(A). Here, the defendant raised the issue again, arguing that Apprendi and its progeny have undermined the circuit precedent on this point, and also made an equal protection claim.

The circuit affirmed. Apprendi does not apply because the enhancement does not alter the statutory maximum penalty, and the Booker line does not affect the analysis, because those cases “concern the advisory nature of the Guidelines” and not “the validity of any particular guideline.”

Thomas also argued that “emerging data” indicated that many firearms are erroneously reported stolen and that this should cause the court to revisit the issue. The court disagreed, finding that this data “actually reinforce[d]” the existing rule. Guns that are falsely reported as stolen …

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Categories: equal protection, Uncategorized

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Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

Publish and Perish

United States v. Samas, No 05-5213-cr (2d Cir. March 24, 2009) (Jacobs, Wesley, Hall, CJJ) (per curiam)

This case was originally decided by summary order in December of 2009. On the government’s motion, the court withdrew the summary order and issued this published decision in its place.

The decision resolves two recurring claims with respect to mandatory minimum sentences. First, the court has long held that the federal drug statutes’ disparate treatment of cocaine and crack offenses does not violate equal protection. Samas made the same equal protection claim here, arguing that the issue should be reconsidered in light of Kimbrough. The circuit disagreed: “Kimbrough bears upon the discretion of district judge to sentence within the maximum and minimum sentence ‘brackets’ [but] does not disturb our precedents rejecting challenges to the constitutionality of the mandatory sentencing scheme” for drug cases.

Samas also argued that the parsimony clause in § 3553(a) …

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Categories: equal protection, mandatory minimum, Uncategorized

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Saturday, April 19th, 2008

Cracked Up

United States v. Lee, No. 06-4933-cr (2d Cir. April 17, 2008) (Cabranes, Wesley, CJJ, Castel, DJ)

Defendant Cathy Lee received a 120-month sentence, the mandatory minimum, in a crack trafficking case. She raised on appeal a host of constitutional and statutory challenges to her sentence, claiming that it violated § 3535(a), the Eighth Amendment, and equal protection, in light of the powder-vs-crack sentencing disparities.

The court held that these claims were waived by the appellate waiver in Lee’s plea agreement. Although such waivers will not be enforced when an “arguably unconstitutional” consideration influenced the sentencing, there was no such consideration here. The equal protection argument with respect to crack sentences is a claim about the statute itself, not a claim that the court considered an improper factor at sentencing. Moreover, the court rejected the equal protection statutory argument nearly fifteen years ago, and no subsequent legal development – including Kimbrough …

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Categories: appeal waiver, crack, equal protection, Uncategorized

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