Archive | Fifth Amendment

Thursday, September 8th, 2022

Three Interesting Cert. Petitions

Our friends at recently discussed three pending cert. petitions that present important and interesting criminal issues. Because these issues may arise in your practice, I note them again here so that you can preserve them for review:

  1. Shaw v. United States, No. 22-118.

Issues:  (1) Whether the jury clauses of Article III and the Sixth Amendment or the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment bar a court from imposing a more severe criminal sentence on the basis of conduct that a jury necessarily rejected, given its verdicts of acquittal on other counts at the same trial; (2) whether the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Watts should be overruled; and (3) whether, in avoidance of the constitutional question, the rules of issue preclusion, as applied in federal criminal cases, bar imposition of an aggravated sentence on a factual predicate necessarily rejected by the jury at trial …

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Categories: Fifth Amendment, First Amendment, Fourteenth Amendment, Sixth Amendment

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Friday, September 2nd, 2022

Marijuana distribution is still a violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). The Second Circuit REJECTS the argument that marijuana’s inclusion in Schedule I of the Controlled Substance Act (“CSA”) lacks a rational basis and thus violates Fifth Amendment due process and equal protection rights. United States v. Green, Nos. 19-997(L), 19-1027 (Con), __F.4th__ , 2022 WL 3903654 (2d Cir. Aug. 31, 2022) (C.J.J. Sack and Bianco; D.J. Underhill).

Two Rochester, New York, marijuana entrepreneurs, “the Green Brothers,” asked the Circuit to strike down marijuana’s classification as a Schedule I drug as an unconstitutional violation of their due process and equal protection rights and, on that basis, dismiss the narcotics charges against them.  Green, 2022 WL 3903654 at **1-2.

“They argued that marijuana’s scheduling has no ‘rational basis’ because it does not meet the statutory criteria for Schedule I classification; that is, the CSA requires that a substance have no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States to fall under Schedule I, see 21 U.S.C. § 812(b)(1), and marijuana does have accepted medical uses.” Id. at *2.  The Circuit rejects this argument.

I. Background facts

“Alexander Green obtained hundreds of kilograms of marijuana from California which he shipped to his brother, Charles Green, in New York State” for distribution “in the Rochester, New York area.” …

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Categories: Fifth Amendment, marijuana

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Monday, March 12th, 2018

De Novo Review of Demeanor?

Last week, the Second Circuit reversed a decision suppressing a defendant’s incriminating, videotaped statements to a DEA agent in a case involving Fentanyl distribution resulting in death. See United States v. Haak, No. 16-3876 (Raggi, Hall, Carney) (appeal from WDNY), opinion available here. The substance of the decision is fact-specific and favors the government.  Interestingly, however, the Court’s approach to reviewing the videotaped interview could be advantageous to defendants in future cases.

Of course, when assessing whether a defendant’s statements to a law enforcement agent were voluntary, appellate courts typically defer to the district court’s assessment of the agent’s demeanor. Here, the panel accorded no such deference. Instead, without citing legal authority for the proposition, the panel categorically asserted that: “Because the . . . interview was video-recorded, this case presents no disputes of fact as to the actions taken, words spoken, or demeanor.”  Slip op. …

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Categories: custody, Fifth Amendment, findings

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Friday, November 10th, 2017

Second Circuit Preserves Ban On Compelled Cross-Border Testimony

Yesterday the Second Circuit denied rehearing en banc of a case that places an important constraint on cross-border prosecutions. United States v. Allen, No. 16-898 (Cabranes, Pooler, Lynch), available here. As we previously wrote, the 81-page opinion in Allen holds that the Fifth Amendment prohibits the use of testimony in a U.S. criminal prosecution that was compelled by a foreign sovereign. This post elaborates on the substance and implications of this decision.

Allen involved a cooperative investigation by U.S. law enforcement and the U.K’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) into the LIBOR scandal. The FCA required the Allen defendants to be interviewed under oath. Had they refused, they would have risked imprisonment. (The FCA granted the defendants “direct use” immunity, but not “derivative use” immunity as is required if a witness is compelled to testify in the United States). The FCA subsequently brought an enforcement action …

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Categories: cross-border prosecution, Fifth Amendment

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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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Friday, July 21st, 2017

Second Circuit Tosses Indictments Following Fifth Amendment Violation, Denies Rehearing in Jenkins

Earlier this week, in United States v. Allen, the Second Circuit reversed the defendants’ convictions and dismissed the indictments against them.  You can access the Circuit’s 81-page opinion here.  The Circuit considered whether a witness’s involuntary testimony that was compelled by a foreign government can be used against in a U.S. prosecution.  In its introduction, the Circuit outlined its four-step conclusion:

First, the Fifth Amendment’s prohibition on the use of compelled testimony in American criminal proceedings applies even when a foreign sovereign has compelled the testimony.

Second, when the government makes use of a witness who had substantial exposure to a defendant’s compelled testimony, it is required under Kastigar v. United States, 406 U.S. 441 (1972), to prove, at a minimum, that the witness’s review of the compelled testimony did not shape, alter, or affect the evidence used by the government.

Third, a bare, generalized denial of …

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Categories: child pornography, Fifth Amendment

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Friday, March 11th, 2016

Two Summary Orders on Search and Seizure

No published opinions today; only two summary orders (from the same panel of Katzmann, Sack, and Lohier) rejecting Fourth and Fifth Amendment challenges by the defendant.

In United States v. Mohammed Aleem, No. 15-186, the Court rejected appellant’s argument that evidence obtained by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), and later used in his prosecution, should have been suppressed because RCMP officers were acting as agents of the U.S. Border Patrol (and because their actions otherwise violated the Fourth Amendment). Relying on United States v. Getto, 729 F.3d 221, 227 (2d Cir. 2013), the Court ruled that “to render foreign law enforcement officials virtual agents of the United States, American officials must play some role in controlling or directing the conduct of the foreign parallel investigation”; “it is not enough that the foreign government undertook its investigation pursuant to an American . . . request.” Order at 3.…

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Categories: Fifth Amendment, Fourth Amendment

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Saturday, August 6th, 2011

To The Manner Porn

United States v. Jennings, No. 10-1642-cr (2d Cir. July 22, 2011) (Kearse, Miner, Chin, CJJ)

For defendant Russell Jennings, looking at child pornography was a hard habit to break. He served a twenty-one-month possession sentence in a 2006 case then, in 2009, while on supervised release, did it again. For the 2009 case, he received a long prison sentence, plus a concurrent supervised release violation sentence on the 2006 case, and a lifetime term of supervised release.

His appellate claims related largely to the way the evidence against him in the 2009 case was developed. He argued that his probation officer was improperly involved in the procurement of the search warrant and criminal complaint, and that incriminating statements he made to the officer were obtained in violation of the Fifth Amendment. The circuit affirmed.

For the first argument, Jennings asserted that his probation officer lacked the statutory and constitutional authority …

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Categories: Fifth Amendment, supervised release, Uncategorized

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Sunday, February 13th, 2011

The Chose Tattoo

United States v. Greer, No. 09-4362-cr (2d Cir. February 4, 2011) (Walker, Cabranes, CJJ, Koeltl, DJ)

Michael Greer was convicted of possessing a gun and its ammunition. The gun was recovered in a trash can along with the keys to a Hyundai Sonata, while the ammunition was found in the car itself. The Sonata had been rented by someone named Tangela Hudson, and a police officer testified that Greer had a tattoo on his left arm that said “Tangela.” On appeal, he argued that using the tattoo to connect him to the car violated his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

The circuit agreed that the tattoo was “testimonial.” The mere exhibition of a physical trait is not testimonial because it is not a communication that contains an assertion of fact or belief. But here, the tattoo was “used to a very different end” – not to identify Greer, but rather …

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Categories: Fifth Amendment, self-incrimination, Uncategorized

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Monday, February 15th, 2010

PC World

It’s been more than a month since the court issued a signed opinion in a criminal case. But here is its latest Per Curiam.

In Re Grand Jury Subpoena Issued June 18, 2009, No. 09-3561-cv (2d Cir. February 1, 2010) (per curiam). In this case, the court rejected a challenge to a subpoena for corporate records where the corporate entities had a sole shareholder, officer and employee, Douglas Rennick. The companies argued that they could resist the subpoena on Fifth Amendment grounds since Rennick was the only person capable of producing the records and his act of production would be testimonial and potentially self-incriminating.

The court noted that the “collective entity rule” prevented the corporations from invoking a Fifth Amendment privilege and that the custodian of corporate records, acting as a representative of the corporation, cannot refuse to produce them on Fifth Amendment grounds. The circuit has long
held that …

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Categories: Fifth Amendment, Uncategorized

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Sunday, November 30th, 2008

Embassy Suite

In re Terrorist Bombings of U.S. Embassies in East Africa, No. 01-1535-cr (2d Cir. November 24, 2008) (Feinberg, Newman, Cabranes, CJJ)

This trio of long opinions, captioned In re Terrorist Bombings of U.S. Embassies in East Africa, resolves the appeals of the defendants convicted of the embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. One opinion deals with trial and sentencing issues, the second deals specifically with Fifth Amendment claims, and the third deals specifically with Fourth Amendment claims. The convictions of all defendants were affirmed, although one defendant asked for, and received, a Fagans remand.

The Trial Opinion

This opinion covers a host of issues, some of which are surprisingly mundane and are treated rather cursorily by the court. A few, however, are more interesting and are discussed here.

1. The Capital Indictment

Defendant Al-‘Owalhi was charged with capital offenses. Although not sentenced to death, he challenged the sufficiency …

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Categories: Fifth Amendment, Fourth Amendment, terrorism, Uncategorized

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