Justia U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Criminal Law
by
The Second Circuit affirmed Defendants Napout and Marin's convictions for multiple counts of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud. Defendants were former officials of the global soccer organization Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). The court held that defendants' convictions rest upon permissible domestic applications of the wire fraud statute, 18 U.S.C. 1343. Furthermore, the court cannot conclude in light of binding precedent that the district court committed plain error with respect to the issue of whether the honest services wire fraud statute, 18 U.S.C. 1346, is unconstitutionally vague as applied to defendants. The court also held that the evidence presented at trial was sufficient to affirm the district court's judgment of conviction; and that the challenged evidentiary rulings of the district court were not error. Finally, the court held that defendants' remaining arguments are without merit. View "United States v. Napout" on Justia Law

by
The Second Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for bank robbery, entering a bank with the intent to commit larceny, and bank larceny. The court held that, in the circumstances presented, dismissal of criminal charges is not the appropriate remedy for a violation of Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 5(c) and the magistrate judge's failure to sign the affidavit attached to the criminal complaint did not render the complaint invalid. Rather, the appropriate remedy for a violation of Rule 5(c)(2) is suppression of any post-arrest evidence illegally obtained as a result of the violation of the rule's requirement. In this case, defendant failed to show that his transfer for an initial appearance in violation of Rule 5(c)(2) caused him any prejudice. Furthermore, even though the magistrate judge failed to sign the jurat on the last page of the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, the magistrate judge signed the jurat on the complaint itself, to which the affidavit was attached. Finally, the court held that defendant's remaining evidentiary challenges do not warrant vacatur of his conviction. View "United States v. Peeples" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
by
Plaintiff pro se, a New York State prisoner, appealed the district court's dismissal of his 42 U.S.C. 1983 suit against correctional facility officials for failure to clear snow and ice from outdoor exercise yards for an entire winter, thereby allegedly violating plaintiff's rights under the Eighth Amendment by denying him physical exercise for four months, and causing him to be injured in a slip-and-fall accident. The Second Circuit held that the district court erred in dismissing the Eighth Amendment claims under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), because the complaint states cognizable Eighth Amendment claims for damages with regard to the denial of physical exercise. The court noted that the district court properly dismissed as moot plaintiff's requests for injunctive or declaratory relief against officials at Green Haven. The court declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over plaintiff's state law claims. The court upheld the district court's dismissal of the slip and fall claims where the complaint did not make any claims of exceptional circumstances that would elevate the Green Haven yard conditions beyond the typical level of danger presented by a slippery sidewalk or a wet floor. Finally, the contention that defendants failed to comply with a consent decree is not pleaded in the complaint and was not raised in the district court. Therefore, the court declined to address this argument. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded in part. View "McCray v. Lee" on Justia Law

by
The Second Circuit certified two questions to the New York Court of Appeals: 1) Whether a stock conversion option that permits a lender, in its sole discretion, to convert any outstanding balance to shares of stock at a fixed discount should be treated as interest for the purpose of determining whether the transaction violates N.Y. Penal Law 190.40, the criminal usury law. 2) If the interest charged on a loan is determined to be criminally usurious under N.Y. Penal Law 190.40, whether the contract is void ab initio pursuant to N.Y. Gen. Oblig. Law 5-511. View "Adar Bays, LLC v. GeneSYS ID, Inc." on Justia Law

by
A district court has the power to deny a government motion under USSG 3E1.1(b). The Second Circuit held that the district court committed procedural error in sentencing defendant after she pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute narcotics. In this case, the district court erred as a matter of law in denying the government's motion to accord defendant an additional one-level downward adjustment for timely acceptance of responsibility under USSG 3E1.1(b). Therefore, the court remanded for resentencing. View "United States v. Vargas" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
by
The Second Circuit vacated defendant's sentence for one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute marijuana. The district court sentenced defendant to 10 years in prison under 21 U.S.C. 841(b)(1)(B), which specified a mandatory minimum of 10 years' imprisonment for defendants with a prior conviction for a felony drug offense. The court held that the district court erred in treating defendant's prior N.Y. Penal Law section 220.31 conviction as a predicate felony drug offense under the categorical approach because section 220.31 criminalized conduct beyond the scope of the federal analog. Accordingly, the court remanded for resentencing. View "United States v. Thompson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
by
The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's motion for a reduced sentence under Section 404 of the First Step Act of 2018. Defendant was sentenced in August 2009 after pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute 50 grams or more of crack cocaine. The court held that Section 404 eligibility depends on the statutory offense for which a defendant was sentenced, not the particulars of any given defendant’s underlying conduct. In this case, because Section 2 of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 modified the statutory penalties for the offense for which defendant was sentenced, the court held that defendant was eligible for Section 404 relief. View "United States v. Davis" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
by
The Second Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence for being in possession of a firearm. The court held that the general unanimity charge delivered by the district court was correct and adequate. Even if there was error, the error was harmless in light of the overwhelming evidence that defendant possessed the firearm. The court also held that defendant's sentence was not procedurally unreasonable and there was no error nor abuse of discretion in applying the USSG 2K2.1(b)(6)(B) enhancement. Furthermore, defendant's 100-month sentence was not substantively unreasonable where the district court considered the 18 U.S.C. 3553(a) factors and imposed a sentence that was well within the district court's discretion. View "United States v. Estevez" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
by
Respondent challenged the district court's orders denying his motion to quash various grand jury subpoenas and directing him to comply with the subpoenas on pain of coercive monetary sanctions. The subpoenas related to respondent's conduct with respect to the public disclosure of sealed information about an undercover government witness. The Second Circuit held that the district court lacked jurisdiction to enforce a subpoena issued without a sitting grand jury; the district court retained jurisdiction to oversee a subpoena involving the same subject matter that was subsequently issued by a newly impaneled grand jury; and the district court ceased to have jurisdiction to enforce the validly issued subpoena after the issuing grand jury's term expired. Nevertheless, because yet another grand jury has been impaneled and has issued an identical subpoena, the court has jurisdiction to reach the merits of respondent's motion to quash the subpoena and found that the subpoena was neither overbroad nor issued with an improper purpose, and that it did not infringe upon respondent's First or Fifth Amendment rights. Accordingly, the court vacated in part, affirmed in part, and remanded. View "Oberlander v. United States" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
by
The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's motion to reduce his sentence, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 3582(c)(2), based upon Amendment 782 to the United States Sentencing Guidelines for drug offenses. The court held that the plain language of the statute, and its incorporated Guidelines provisions, preclude a district court from reducing a sentence, pursuant to section 3582(c)(2), below the amended Guidelines range based on a section 5G1.3(b) adjustment at the original sentencing. View "United States v. Zapatero" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law