Articles Posted in U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

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Defendant was convicted of multiple crimes including conspiracy, firearm, and drug-related offenses. On appeal, defendant principally argued that the district court erred in denying his motions for suppression of his cellphone and of letters addressed to his uncle seized by law enforcement agents without a search warrant, from the bedroom he shared with his uncle. Although the Second Circuit agreed with defendant that the record shows that the cellphone and letters were in fact seized after the protective sweep had been completed and the agents had left and reentered the bedroom, the court concluded that the agents' warrantless reentry into that room did not violate the Fourth Amendment because it was justified by the exigencies of the circumstances. The court rejected defendant's challenge to the denial of his suppression motions because the district court did not clearly err in finding that the cellphone and letters were in plain view in that room and were recognizable as evidence. The court affirmed the judgment, rejecting defendant's remaining evidentiary, procedural, and sentencing challenges. View "United States v. Delva" on Justia Law

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Collecting IP address information devoid of content is constitutionally indistinguishable from the use of a pen register. The Second Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence for drug trafficking charges and other crimes related to his creation and operation of an online marketplace known as Silk Road. The court affirmed the denial of defendant's motion to suppress evidence obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Where, as here, the government did not access the contents of any of defendant's communications, it did not need to obtain a warrant to collect IP address routing information in which defendant did not have a legitimate privacy interest. Therefore, the court rejected defendant's contention that the issuance of such pen/trap orders violated his Fourth Amendment rights. The court explained that it saw no constitutional difference between monitoring home phone dialing information and IP address routing data. Furthermore, the Laptop Warrant, as well as the Google and Facebook Warrants, did not violate the Fourth Amendment. Finally, the court rejected defendant's numerous claims of evidentiary errors, and concluded that defendant's life sentence was not procedurally and substantively unreasonable. View "United States v. Ulbricht" on Justia Law

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Under the doctrine of abatement, the government has no right to retain fines imposed pursuant to a conviction that is subsequently vacated. In this case, the executrix of the estate of Thomas W. Libous, a former New York State Senator, moved to withdraw his appeal, vacate the underlying judgment of conviction of making false statements to the FBI, and for remand to the district court for dismissal of the indictment and return of a fine and special assessment. The Second Circuit circuit granted the motion in its entirety. View "United States v. Libous" on Justia Law

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A nolle prosequi constitutes a "favorable termination" for the purpose of determining when a 42 U.S.C. 1983 claim accrues. In this case, plaintiff filed suit against defendant, a police officer, under section 1983, alleging malicious prosecution in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The district court held that plaintiff's malicious prosecution claim accrued when the nolle prosequi was entered, and that as a result his suit was time‐ barred. The Second Circuit affirmed, holding that plaintiff's claim accrued when the charges against him were nolled. View "Spak v. Phillips" on Justia Law

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In this disability discrimination case, the Second Circuit certified the following question to the New York Court of Appeals: Do sections 8‐102(16)(c) and 8‐107(1)(a) of the New York City Administrative Code preclude a plaintiff from bringing a disability discrimination claim based solely on a perception of untreated alcoholism? View "Makinen v. City of New York" on Justia Law

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Petitioner, convicted of murder and related-offenses, sought review of the district court's denial of habeas relief, arguing that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to call a medical expert both to interpret the portion of his medical records documenting his blood alcohol level and to expound upon the effects of that level of intoxication. The Second Circuit vacated and remanded, holding that the state trial court's determination that petitioner failed to establish prejudice was not unreasonable; it was not so lacking in justification as to be beyond any possibility for fairminded disagreement; and thus the district court erred in second-guess that determination and substituting its own judgment. View "Waiters v. Lee" on Justia Law

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At issue in this appeal was whether defendant should have been acquitted of transporting an alien within the United States for profit in violation of 8 U.S.C. 1324(a)(1)(A)(ii) and 1324(a)(1)(B)(i). The Second Circuit reversed the conviction, holding that the evidence was insufficient to prove that defendant transported an alien "in furtherance of" the alien's illegal stay in the United States, as required by section 1324(a)(1)(A)(ii) and by the district court's jury instructions. Although the Government did present evidence that defendant drove the alien to Pennsylvania Station in order to facilitate the alien's entry into Canada using a fraudulent passport, such a showing alone cannot establish a direct and substantial relationship between the transportation and an act in furtherance of the alien's unlawful presence in the United States. The Second Circuit remanded with instructions to dismiss the count and for de novo sentencing. View "United States v. Khalil" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit held that it lacked jurisdiction to hear defendant's appeal of the denial of his Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 29 and double jeopardy motions. Defendant has not stated a colorable double jeopardy claim that may be appealed before final judgment, as no event has occurred to terminate his original jeopardy from his first trial. The Second Circuit has previously held that the denial of a Rule 29 motion does not fall within the scope of the collateral order doctrine and may not be appealed prior to a final judgment. Accordingly, the appeals were dismissed based on lack of appellate jurisdiction and all pending motions were dismissed as moot. View "United States v. Serrano" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed Defendants Lyle and Van Praagh's conviction and sentence for drug trafficking charges. The Second Circuit held that the district court did not err in denying Lyle's motion to suppress where he had no reasonable expectation of privacy in the rental car that he was driving without a license and without authority; Lyle's statement in his opening argument triggered the waiver of his proffer agreement, and the proffer statements rebutted his counsel's argument that he was a mere user of methamphetamine and not a dealer; the admission of Lyleʹs redacted proffer and post‐arrest statements in defendantsʹ joint trial was not plainly erroneous; the district court did not abuse its discretion in admitting the evidence seized during Lyleʹs New Jersey arrest; the district court did not plainly err in failing to sua sponte give a buyer‐seller instruction to the jury; and Van Praaghʹs below‐Guidelines sentence of 144 monthsʹ imprisonment was substantively reasonable. View "United States v. Lyle" on Justia Law

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Defendant was found guilty of possessing a firearm as a previously convicted felon. At issue was whether the district court erred in denying defendant's motion to suppress the gun on Fourth Amendment grounds. The court concluded that the district court did not err by suppressing the motion because the officer had probable cause to arrest defendant inasmuch as she had a reasonable belief that an apartment‐building stairwell is a public place for purposes of the open‐container law and that defendant was violating that law.  Therefore, the warrantless search was a lawful search incident to arrest, even though the officer testified that before finding the gun she intended only to issue a summons, not to make an arrest. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "United States v. Diaz" on Justia Law