Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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The Second Circuit denied a petition for review of the BIA's decision affirming the IJ's finding that petitioner was removable and denial of his applications for cancellation of removal and adjustment of status. The court held that, because it has previously upheld the BIA's determination that child endangerment offenses fall within the Immigration and Nationality Act's (INA) crime of child abuse provision, the court agreed with the district court that New York law -- which criminalizes conduct that poses a likelihood of physical, mental, or moral harm to a child -- falls within the BIA's definition. Therefore, petitioner's New York convictions for endangering the welfare of a child were crimes of child abuse, child neglect, or child abandonment under the INA. View "Matthews v. Barr" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for one count of unlawful possession of a firearm by an alien who is illegally unlawfully in the United States. The court held that the "in the United States" element of 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(5)(A) requires only that a noncitizen be physically present within the United States. The court rejected defendant's argument that a defendant must have "entered" the country as a matter of immigration law. The court also held that, in light of defendant's immigration status at the time of the conduct underlying his arrest, he was unlawfully present in the United States. The court rejected defendant's argument that he was not present "illegally or unlawfully" because he was effectively paroled into the country when he was released from detention in 2007. View "United States v. Balde" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for importing and possessing with intent to distribute methylone and anabolic steroids; conspiracy to do so; and operating a stash house. The court held that the district court did not err by denying defendant's motion to suppress evidence where defendant received proper Miranda warnings, fully understood them, and voluntarily made statements to the agents, or waived his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent; defendant consented to the search; the evidence was ample for the jury to infer that defendant knew that the substances in which he knowingly dealt, methylone and anabolic steroids, were in fact controlled substances; and challenges to the scheduling of methylone as a controlled substance lacked merit. View "United States v. O'Brien" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Plaintiffs challenged the district court's dismissal of their complaint for failure to exhaust administrative remedies and, in the alternative, failure to state a claim. Although plaintiffs challenged the inclusion of marijuana on Schedule I of the federal Controlled Substances Act, they did not first pursue reclassification through the administrative process defined in the Act. The Second Circuit held that plaintiffs' action was premature, because plaintiffs should attempt to exhaust their administrative remedies before seeking relief from this court. However, the court noted that it was troubled by the DEA's history of dilatory proceedings and thus, rather than dismiss the case, the court held it in abeyance and retained jurisdiction in this panel to take whatever action might become appropriate if the DEA does not act with adequate dispatch. View "Washington v. Barr" on Justia Law

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The government appealed the district court's grant of defendant's motion to vacate a portion of the jury's guilty verdict. Defendant was convicted of conspiracy to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin as well as several other narcotics and firearms violations. In this case, the parties agree that the government proved beyond a reasonable doubt that 89 grams of heroin were attributable to the conspiracy. The Second Circuit affirmed and held that the evidence at trial was insufficient to permit a reasonable jury to find beyond a reasonable doubt that the conspiracy involved an additional 11 grams of heroin. The court remanded for sentencing. View "United States v. Pauling" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Second Circuit denied a petition for review of the BIA's decision dismissing petitioner's appeal from the IJ's order of removal on the ground that petitioner had been convicted of an aggravated felony crime of violence. The court held that petitioner's prior conviction for second degree assault under New York Penal Law 120.05(1) is a crime of violence as defined in 18 U.S.C. 16(a), because it requires that defendant cause a serious physical injury to another with the intent to do so. Therefore, the conviction met section 16(a)'s physical force requirement. View "Thompson v. Barr" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Second Circuit denied a petition for review of the BIA's order of removal based on petitioner's conviction for an aggravated felony. The court held that petitioner's conviction for conspiracy in the second degree to commit a felony -- murder in the second degree in this case -- under New York law was an aggravated felony. The court applied the categorical approach and held that second degree murder is clearly an aggravated felony within the federal definition. View "Santana-Felix v. Barr" on Justia Law

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Defendant appealed the district court's order resentencing him to 180 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm and after the grant of his habeas petition on the ground that his original sentence was rendered retroactively invalid under Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015). The Second Circuit affirmed and held that defendant's prior conviction for second degree burglary under North Carolina law qualifies categorically as a violent felony under the Armed Career Criminal Act's "enumerated clause." The court also held that defendant's prior conviction for federal bank robbery qualifies categorically as a violent felony under the ACCA's elements clause. Therefore, the district court did not err by determining that defendant was subject to the ACCA's mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 180 months. View "United States v. Evans" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Second Circuit denied a petition for rehearing of its prior decision concluding that petitioner's prior convictions for robbery under Con. Gen. Stat. 53a‐133 qualified as predicates under the Force Clause of the Armed Career Criminal Act of 1984 (ACCA), and reinstating his original ACCA sentence. The court held that petitioner misread Villanueva v. United States, 893 F.3d 123 (2d Cir. 2018). While petitioner was correct that in Villanueva the court remanded for resentencing, rather than direct the district court to reimpose the original sentence that had impermissibly relied on the ACCA's now‐defunct residual clause, the court neither ruled nor suggested that the latter course would have been impermissible, much less ruled that future courts in similar circumstances should follow the same course. Therefore, the decision to remand for resentencing was discretionary. The court also held that petitioner misconstrued Pepper v. United States, 562 U.S. 476 (2011), nor was petitioner correct that a sentencing court's reliance on the ACCA's residual clause, later determined to be unconstitutional, would be a structural error not susceptible to harmless error analysis. Petitioner's remaining arguments were unpersuasive. View "Shabazz v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction on five counts related to his participation in attacks on United States and coalition forces in Afghanistan while a member of al‐Qaeda. The court held that it was not error to deny a defendant's purported waiver of the right to counsel if, like defendant here, the defendant prevented the court from fulfilling its obligation to ensure that a Sixth Amendment waiver was knowing and intelligent. Furthermore, even if a waiver of counsel was knowing and intelligent, a trial court may deny the right to act pro se where the defendant deliberately engages in serious and obstructionist misconduct, or is not able and willing to abide by rules of procedure and courtroom protocol. In this case, defendant's obstruction was independent support for the denial of his purported waiver of counsel where the misconduct was egregious and intolerable by any measure: he hummed and screamed, and rambled incoherently; he cursed at the judge, declared him an enemy and threatened to kill him. The court also held that defendant's claim that 18 U.S.C. 2332(b)(2), conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals, was rendered domestic by its incorporation of 18 U.S.C. 1111, which penalized murder within the jurisdiction of the Unites States, and that the evidence at trial proved a conspiracy to murder American soldiers only in Afghanistan, was without merit. View "United States v. Hausa" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law