Archive | Uncategorized

Friday, December 8th, 2023

New York Narcotics Convictions Still Aren’t Federal Controlled Substance Offenses

In United States v. Chaires, No. 20-4162 (2d Cir. Dec. 7, 2023) (per curiam), the Second Circuit (Carney, Sullivan, and Menashi) remanded for resentencing, on plain error review, where the defendant was sentenced as a career offender based on New York controlled substance predicates. As our dear readers are well-aware, Chaires follows in the footsteps of several important Second Circuit cases holding that state drug crimes are categorically overbroad – and cannot be used to enhance a sentence – because they punish possession of more substances than the federal Controlled Substance Act (CSA). To recap:

  • United States v. Townsend, 897 F.3d 66 (2d Cir. 2018). In this leading case, in addition to holding that the categorical approach applies to the controlled-substance-offense determination, the Court ruled that, because N.Y.P.L. 220.31 punishes possession of human chorionic gonadotropin, but the CSA does not, it cannot serve as a predicate for offense-level-enhancement
Posted by
Categories: Uncategorized

Posted By
Categories: Uncategorized

Continue Reading
Tuesday, October 17th, 2023

Second circuit affirms 45-year sentence despite an “inexcusable” error

In United States v. Gates, the Second Circuit today affirmed a 45-year sentence for a person with no criminal history, who was convicted of three counts related to sexual exploitation of her child based on five images found on the child’s father’s phone. (Even though the child’s father, unlike Gates, had thousands of additional images of child pornography as well as a criminal history, he received the same sentence as Gates). The Circuit appeared completely unmoved by her argument that her sentence was substantively unreasonable, failing to engage with or even mention any facts about Gates’s personal background.

The Circuit, however, did find that the district court erred in at least two ways. First, the Circuit found that the district court improperly counted a conspiracy count as a separate group. But, the Circuit said, this error was harmless because the offense level was so high that it would still …

Posted by
Categories: Uncategorized

Posted By
Categories: Uncategorized

Continue Reading
Wednesday, September 20th, 2023

Second Circuit Affirms 18 U.S.C. § 115(a)(1)(B) Conviction And Sentence For Defendant Who Posted “Kill Your Senators” Video Online

In United States v. Hunt, No. 21-3020 (2d Cir. Sept. 20, 2023) (Walker, joined by Parker and Bianco), the Circuit affirmed Hunt’s conviction and sentence for threatening to assault and murder United States officials, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 115(a)(1)(B), based on Hunt’s online posting of a video entitled “Kill Your Senators.” In the video, which was posted on January 8, 2021, Hunt said, among other things: “We need to go back to the U.S. Capitol when all of the Senators and a lot of the Representatives are back there and this time we have to show up with our guns and we need to slaughter these motherfuckers …. If anybody has a gun, give me it. I will go there myself and shoot them and kill them.”

The Circuit held:

  1. The evidence was sufficient. In so holding, the Circuit rejected Hunt’s argument for application of the “constitutional
Posted by
Categories: Uncategorized

Posted By
Categories: Uncategorized

Continue Reading
Friday, August 11th, 2023

Another Day, Another 922(g) Section Found Unconstitutional under Bruen: this time it’s 922(g)(3) prohibiting an “unlawful” drug user from having a gun

This week, in United States v. Daniels, the Fifth Circuit held that a person’s conviction under 922(g)(3) was unconstitutional following Bruen. The facts of Daniels are straightforward: Daniels was found with guns and marijuana in his car and then admitted he was a habitual marijuana user. He was charged and convicted of violating Section 922(g)(3). The Fifth Circuit reversed, holding that history and tradition did not justify disarming a “sober citizen based exclusively on his past drug usage.”

Although 922(g)(3) isn’t a a common charge, there is helpful language in the Daniels opinion for Bruen motions under 922(g)(1). And, the steady drumbeat of 922(g) reversals will hopefully give judges pause in relying on pre-Bruen decisions without a careful analysis.

In Daniels, the government relied on the same language and history that they point to for 922(g)(1) cases. The Fifth Circuit roundly rejected those arguments. The Circuit …

Posted by
Categories: Uncategorized

Posted By
Categories: Uncategorized

Continue Reading
Thursday, July 20th, 2023

Plaintiff can pursue punitive damages related to his unlawful state supervision

In Aponte v. Perez, No. 20-2186 (2d Cir. July 20, 2023), the Second Circuit rules largely in favor of the plaintiff-appellant, who brought a civil rights suit after he was wrongfully subjected to post-release supervision.

 In 2000, plaintiff Felix Aponte was sentenced in New York State court to 8 years in prison for robbery. After sentencing, the New York State Department of Correctional Services (DOCS) “administratively added a five-year term of post-release supervision” (PRS). This practice seems obviously unconstitutional and, in 2006, the Second Circuit so held. Aponte was eventually resentenced in 2008.

In the meantime, Aponte was subject to this illegal supervision term. He was imprisoned for violating the terms of his (illegal) supervision.

Aponte, acting pro se, brought suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against DOCS and others, seeking damages related to his unlawful supervision and incarceration.

The district court found a violation of Aponte’s due …

Posted by
Categories: Uncategorized

Posted By
Categories: Uncategorized

Continue Reading
Tuesday, June 27th, 2023

By a 6-3 vote, the Supreme Court holds that a federal prisoner who has already filed (and exhausted) a motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 can’t file another postconviction motion to raise a claim of legal innocence based on an intervening statutory-interpretation-decision of  the Supreme Court.  Section 2255(h) bars second or successive 2255 motions based on non-constitutional claims; and the “saving clause” of § 2255(e) doesn’t authorize a petition for a “writ of habeas corpus,” under § 2241, for claims barred by § 2255(h). Jones v. Hendrix, Sup. Ct.  21-857, __U.S.. __  (June 22, 2023).

Thomas, J.,  delivered the Court’s opinion. Sotomayor and Kagan, JJ., filed a dissenting opinion. Jackson, J.,  filed a dissenting opinion.

Background

In 2000, petitioner Marcus DeAngelo Jones was convicted of two counts “of unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon, in violation of 18 U. S. C. § 922(g)(1)” and sentenced to 327 months’ imprisonment (a little over 27 years’). Op. at 2. After losing his direct appeal (in 2001), “Jones filed a timely § 2255 motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence, which resulted in the vacatur of one of his concurrent § 922(g) sentences but no other relief.” Op. at 2. Jones exhausted his first § 2255 motion in 2006. Id.

“Years later, in Rehaif v. United States” the Supreme Court held “that a defendant’s knowledge of the status that disqualifies him from owning a firearm is an element of a § 922(g) conviction,” …

Posted by
Categories: Uncategorized

Posted By
Categories: Uncategorized

Continue Reading
Sunday, June 11th, 2023

Circuit reverses conviction, orders Franks hearing

In a big defense win, last week, the Second Circuit reversed Anthony Molina’s conviction of five counts of robbery and brandishing, for two independent reasons. Judge Raggi wrote the decision. First, the Circuit held that the trial court should have conducted a Franks hearing and remanded for the court to hold one. The facts underling this issue are complicated. But, in short, the government conceded that there were errors in the warrant applications – these errors ranged from using the incorrect date of the crime, to attributing phone numbers to the wrong people, to stating there was evidence co-conspirators had communicated close in time to the robberies, when the government did not have evidence of that. The opinion explains in detail how these errors flowed together to give the magistrate the wrong impression about probable cause. Some of the highlights of the decision on this issue:

  • The government argued unsuccessfully
Posted by
Categories: Uncategorized

Posted By
Categories: Uncategorized

Continue Reading
Thursday, April 13th, 2023

Second Circuit holds that prison term of one year and one day for convicted fraudster is unreasonably lenient.

In Watts v. United States, Nos. 21-2925(L), 21-3028 (2d Cir. Apr. 12, 2023) (summary order), the Circuit affirmed the defendant’s convictions for various counts involving securities fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering. But, at the Government’s urging on its cross-appeal, the court vacated his sentence—which included a below-Guidelines term of imprisonment of one year and one day—as substantively unreasonable because it was  “shockingly low, or otherwise unsupportable as a matter of law.” Fortunately, the decision is an unpublished summary order, meaning that it has no precedential effect.

Watts was convicted in the Eastern District of New York (Seybert, J.), of charges that, over a four-year period, he and his co-defendants schemed to defraud investors in several publicly traded companies by artificially controlling the price and volume of traded shares in those companies. In brief, Watts and other insiders at public companies allegedly hired a Long Island “boiler room” to …

Posted by
Categories: Uncategorized

Posted By
Categories: Uncategorized

Continue Reading
Wednesday, March 22nd, 2023

Today, in United States v. Lewis, the Second Circuit strongly reaffirmed that the Circuit has no “categorical rule” about Fourth Amendment standing over shared spaces in multi-unit buildings. On the contrary, the Circuit noted that people who live in single-family homes should not have greater Fourth Amendment protections then people in multi-unit buildings. It counseled that courts should use an “individualized approach” to assess a person’s privacy interest over any shared spaces.

Unfortunately for Vashun Lewis, however, the Circuit still found that he hadn’t shown a reasonable expectation of privacy over a back “porch” area that led to a common stairway. (The area described as a porch seems to have been inside the building, although it is not entirely clear from the decision). The Circuit said that Lewis had “neither pointed to any relevant evidence nor made any arguments pertinent to his reasonable expectation of privacy over the porch.”…

Posted by
Categories: Uncategorized

Posted By
Categories: Uncategorized

Continue Reading
Friday, March 3rd, 2023

Circuit orders resentencing in light of statements that created a risk of the appearance that a defendant’s nationality impacted his sentence.

In United States v. Vasquez-Drew, No. 20-2195-cr (2d Cir. March 2, 2023) (summary order), the Second Circuit ordered the defendant resentenced before a new district judge because certain remarks the original judge made at sentencing created a “risk that a reasonable observer … ‘might infer, however incorrectly’ that Vasquez’s nationality played a role in determining his sentence.”

In sentencing the defendant, a Bolivian national, the district court (Cote, J.) stated that the sentence was “motivated by concerns about appropriate punishment, but also general deterrence,” and that it was “important” “that the people in Bolivia understand the kind of sentences that are potentially imposed here from engagement in activity to send cocaine into America.”

This decision follows an interesting and wide-ranging oral argument available here and previewed here.

Ultimately, the Circuit’s short summary order hewed closely to precedent: “[E]ven the appearance that the sentence reflects a defendant’s race or …


Posted By
Categories: sentencing, Uncategorized

Continue Reading
Thursday, December 15th, 2022

Supreme Court Alert

The Supreme Court recently granted certiorari in four criminal cases to resolve the following questions. Note that in two of the cases, Lora and Samia, the Court will review decisions issued by the Second Circuit.

Lora v. United States, 22-49

Whether 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(D)(ii), which provides that “no term of imprisonment imposed … under this subsection shall run concurrently with any other term of imprisonment,” is triggered when a defendant is convicted and sentenced under 18 U.S.C. § 924(j).

United States v. Hansen, 22-179

Whether the federal criminal prohibition against encouraging or inducing unlawful immigration for commercial advantage or private financial gain, in violation of 8 U.S.C. § 1324(a)(1)(A)(iv) and (B)(i), is facially unconstitutional on First Amendment overbreadth grounds.

Samia v. United States, 22-196

Whether admitting a codefendant’s redacted out-of-court confession that immediately inculpates a defendant based on the surrounding context violates the defendant’s rights …

Posted by
Categories: Uncategorized

Posted By
Categories: Uncategorized

Continue Reading