Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

Second Circuit Updates – July 26, 2016

The Court today issued no published decisions in criminal cases but did decide one criminal matter in a summary order: United States v. Wilson, No. 15-1991-cr (2d Cir. July 26, 2016) (Pooler, Sack, and Lynch).

Wilson had been convicted of two counts: theft of government property, which carries a ten-year maximum prison term, and aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory consecutive prison term of two years. The district court (Judge Scullin) imposed the statutory maximum term of 12 years. The Circuit affirmed.

At sentencing, the court correctly calculated the Guidelines range of imprisonment to be 168-210 months and imposed a lower sentence, 144 months, which the Circuit found to be procedurally and substantively reasonable.

But the Circuit noted that it was “troubled” by the district court’s conduct at sentencing. In particular, the court had stated that it felt deceived by letters submitted by the defendant’s wife and father. Indeed, the court threatened the wife with prosecution for making statements that the court believed were false, and even directed that a copy of the sentencing transcript be sent to the wife’s employer.

While the Circuit found the court’s conduct to be “inappropriate” and “unwarranted,” it rejected Appellant’s argument that the court’s anger improperly influenced the sentence. The Court concluded that “the court did not impose a significant sentence because it was angry about the letters: rather, it was angry about the letters because they attempted to excuse behavior that the court found deserving of a significant sentence.”

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