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

Articles Posted in Criminal Law
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The Second Circuit affirmed, as modified, defendant's sentence imposed after he pleaded guilty to cyberstalking and distributing of a controlled substance. The court held that the district court did not err by imposing an above-Guidelines 48-month term of imprisonment, which was justified as a variance. The court also held that defendant's challenge to the supervised release condition is moot because the Western District of New York's standing order permissibly modifies the applicable condition. View "United States v. Traficante" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Second Circuit granted petitions for review of the BIA's decisions ordering petitioners removed based on their New York firearms convictions. The court principally concluded that the statutes of conviction, sections 265.03 and 265.11 of the New York Penal Law, criminalize conduct involving "antique firearms" that the relevant firearms offense definitions in the Immigration and Nationality Act do not. Therefore, the court held that this categorical mismatch precludes petitioners' removal on the basis of their state convictions. Accordingly, the court vacated the BIA's decisions and remanded with instructions to terminate the removal hearings. View "Jack v. Barr" on Justia Law

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The term "false or fictitious" as used in 18 U.S.C. 514 refers to both wholly contrived types of documents or instruments and fake versions of existing documents or instruments. The Second Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction under section 514, holding that the evidence was sufficient to support his conviction. In this case, defendant used fake government transportation requests and purchase orders to various companies while posing as a "Commissioner and Head of Delegation" of a nongovernmental organization he created. View "United States v. Jones" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed defendant's 420 month sentence for child pornography offenses. The court held that defendant's sentence was substantively reasonable where the district court reviewed the record; considered the 18 U.S.C. 3553(a) sentencing factors; and was well within its discretion in imposing a 35 year sentence for defendant's abhorrent conduct, noting the number of victims and the lengths he went to manipulate them. The court also held that defendant's sentence was procedurally reasonable where the district court's Guidelines calculation error did not seriously affect the fairness, integrity, or public reputation of the sentencing. View "United States v. Muzio" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Second Circuit reversed the district court's denial of defendant's motion to suppress statements made and narcotics discovered during a search incident to arrest. The court held that the officers lacked an objectively reasonable belief of legal wrongdoing to justify stopping defendant. In this case, the officers stopped defendant on the basis of a photograph that provided little meaningful identifying information to the police besides the race of a suspect. Consequently, the police lacked specific and articulable facts giving rise to a reasonable suspicion of criminal wrongdoing. The court further held that the resultant taint of illegality was not purged by the officers' subsequent discovery of an unrelated arrest warrant; the search of defendant yielding the narcotics and statements at issue was insufficiently attenuated from the unconstitutional stop; any suspicion, reasonable or otherwise, would have dissipated when the officers approached defendant and could see up close that he did not resemble the photographed suspect; and the subsequent search for outstanding warrants was thus purposeful and flagrant conduct. View "United States v. Walker" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Second Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute narcotics; Hobbs Act robbery and Hobbs Act conspiracy; and possession of a firearm, which had been discharged, in furtherance of the robbery. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in admitting the glove DNA evidence. In this case, the five day Daubert hearing exhaustively dissected the Forensic Statistical Tool method of DNA analysis and the district court permissibly found that two Daubert factors favored denial of defendant's motion to exclude the evidence. Even if the district court erred by admitting the Glove DNA evidence, the error was harmless. The court also held that the district court did not err by rejecting defendant's proposed jury instruction on multiple conspiracies and in denying his motion for a new trial based on newly discovered evidence as to the credibility of a government witness. View "United States v. Jones" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Second Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for failure to register under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA). Defendant was convicted of raping another member of his platoon in violation of Article 120 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice and, after he was discharged from military service, he was designated as a Level Two sex offender. The court held that 34 U.S.C. 20911(5)(A)(iv)'s delegation to the Secretary of Defense to designate which military offenses constitute "sex offenses" under the statute does not violate the non-delegation doctrine. The court also held that the Secretary of Defense did not violate the Administrative Procedure Act in designating military offenses as sex offenses under SORNA. View "United States v. Mingo" on Justia Law

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In petition No. 18-834, petitioner contends principally that the BIA erred (a) in rejecting his challenge to the IJ's ruling that he failed to carry his burden of showing his procedurally regular admission to the United States, (b) in rejecting his contention that he was denied due process by the IJ's evidentiary rulings minimizing or curtailing evidence to show his procedurally regular admission, and (c) in denying his motion to reopen the proceeding to present newly discovered evidence. In petition No. 19-737, petitioner contends that the BIA erred in rejecting his contention that intervening legal authority requires the conclusion that criminal possession of stolen property was not a crime involving moral turpitude at the time of his conviction. The Second Circuit denied so much of Petition No 18-834 as contends that petitioner was denied due process. The court dismissed the remainder of that petition for lack of jurisdiction. In regard to Petition No. 19-737, the court held that there was no error in the Board's determination that petitioner's conviction for criminal possession of stolen property was a crime involving moral turpitude. Furthermore, the Board did not err by rejecting petitioner's motion to reopen removal proceedings based on petitioner's claim of an intervening change in the law. Therefore, the court denied the petition in No. 19-737. View "Ottey v. Barr" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit alleging claims of deliberate indifference by prison officials to his medical conditions while he was incarcerated in a New York state prison. At the time of trial, plaintiff was on parole and asked the district court to order the New York Board of Parole to allow him to attend his trial in Buffalo and for the district court to pay for his travel. The Second Circuit held that although a parolee has no constitutional right to attend his own civil trial, a district court does have the authority to compel a parolee's attendance by issuing a writ of habeas corpus ad testificandum pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 2241(c)(5). The court explained that plaintiff did not seek such a writ from the district court and the relief he did request differed significantly from that provided by the writ. Therefore, the court reviewed only for plain error and held that the district court did not plainly err in not issuing the writ. The court also held that, even if plaintiff's request were construed as a petition for the writ, the court would still affirm because plaintiff did not not demonstrate that issuing the writ would be "necessary" as required by section 2241(c)(5). Furthermore, even if the district court should have issued the writ, the court held that the failure to do so was harmless because plaintiff has not demonstrated that the outcome of the trial would have been different if he had been physically present. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's judgment. View "Davidson v. Desai" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's order granting Defendants Mattis and Rahman's release on bail pending trial. Amidst city and nationwide protests against police brutality, defendants were arrested after an incident in which Rahman allegedly threw a Molotov cocktail into an unoccupied police vehicle and Mattis allegedly acted as the getaway driver. The court cannot say that it is left with a "definite and firm conviction" that the district court erred in determining that the conditions imposed are adequate to reasonably assure that defendants do not constitute a danger to the community. The court noted that defendants' actions were undertaken during a massive public protest, in which emotions ran high. Furthermore, there is no indication that defendants are likely to engage in similar acts outside of the context of that particular night. In this case, neither defendant had a prior criminal record, both had engaged in responsible careers and are dedicated to caring for their families, both demonstrated they had deep ties to the community, and both had friends and family explain that they were willing to post $250,000 bonds as bail. The court held that the conditions of release contain provisions that impede defendants' ability to engage in criminal activity, and the evidence to which the government points the court and which the court has otherwise gleaned from the record is inadequate to leave it with a firm conviction that the district court erred in finding those conditions sufficient to assure public safety. Accordingly, the court vacated the stay previously entered in this matter. View "United States v. Mattis" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law