Wednesday, May 1st, 2024

IAC claim rejected on direct appeal because lack of prejudice to defendant is “beyond doubt” and district court sufficiently explained its sentence given “the lesser specificity required for a [revocation] sentence”

Not sure why United States v. Antonio Ortiz, 2d Cir. No. 22-1775-cr (April 30, 2024), is a published opinion rather than a summary order. Judge Menashi’s opinion for the panel (Calabresi, Menashi, Perez) rejects Ortiz’s challenge to his five-year sentence, imposed upon revocation of supervised release after the district court found that he raped his teenage daughter on several occasions.

The issues are fact-specific. Two are worth noting.

First, although the Circuit generally declines to address an IAC claim raised for the first time on direct appeal, it will decide the issue when “the record is developed and the resolution of the claim is beyond doubt.” Op. 7 (citing cases). Here, the record shows that any alleged ineffectiveness by Ortiz’s counsel (in failing to offer certain evidence) would have made no difference to the district judge (the fact-finder),

Second, although a sentencing court is required to state in open court the reasons for its sentence (and with greater specificity when the sentence exceeds the Guidelines range, as here), “the degree of specificity required . . is less” at revocation “than [at a] plenary sentencing.” Op. 11 (citing cases). Here, on plain-error review, the Circuit concludes that “the record as a whole” sufficed to satisfy the articulation obligation, “especially in light of the lesser specificity required for a sentence for the violation of supervised release.” Id. 12; see id. 13 (“[T]he reasons for the sentence [are] apparent in the record.”).

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