Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of petitioner's motions for supervised release or bail pending resolution of his motion to vacate his sentence under 28 U.S.C. 2255. The court held that a certificate of appealability was not required when appealing from orders in a habeas proceeding that are collateral to the merits of the habeas claim itself, including the denial of bail. In this case, the absence of a COA was not a bar to petitioner's appeal from the district court's order denying his motion for supervised release or bail pending resolution of his habeas petition. The court also held that petitioner's motion lacked merit because it did not present substantial questions and petitioner failed to demonstrate extraordinary circumstances. View "Illarramendi v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of the government's motion under Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure 35 for a reduction in sentence. The court held that the district court applied the proper two-step test in evaluating the Rule 35(b) motion. In this case, although defendant provided substantial assistance to the government, he had already received the benefit of his cooperation, he continued to engage in criminal activity while on presentence release, and he lied to the court with respect to his substantial additional criminal conduct. The court also held that the district court did not err in considering the 18 U.S.C. 3553(a) factors in step two in deciding whether to reduce defendant's sentence in light of his cooperation. View "United States v. Katsman" on Justia Law

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The Controlled Substance Analogue Enforcement Act of 1986 was not unconstitutionally vague as applied to defendants' charges of conspiracy to deal in "controlled substance analogues." The Second Circuit held that the evidence was sufficient to support the convictions, but that Defendants Snell and Gambuzza were prejudiced by improper jury instructions on the knowledge element of the Act. Furthermore, Gambuzza was prejudiced by the receipt of inadmissible hearsay evidence. Accordingly, the court affirmed Defendant Demott's conviction on his guilty plea; vacated Snell and Gambuzza's convictions; and remanded for retrial. View "United States v. Demott" on Justia Law

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Defendant appealed his conviction of conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's motion to suppress physical evidence recovered during an investigatory stop. The court held that the district court correctly determined this case presented unusual circumstances that justified the use of handcuffs, because the officer's conduct was reasonable considering the late night investigatory stop in a remote wooded area where three suspects had appeared to meet, and the choice to handcuff defendant was a less intimidating and less dangerous means of ensuring the officer's safety than holding defendant at gunpoint. Finally, the court declined to rule on defendant's ineffective assistance of counsel claim. View "United States v. Fiseku" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit vacated the district court's grant of defendant's 28 U.S.C. 2255 motion and resentence to a lesser term of imprisonment than was initially imposed. The court held that defendant failed to meet his heavy burden of demonstrating a miscarriage of justice where frustration of a sentencing judge's subjective intent did not, by itself, render a sentence a miscarriage of justice to support a cognizable collateral challenge to that sentence. In this case, defendant pleaded guilty to one count of knowingly and intentionally distributing cocaine base, a schedule II controlled substance. In accordance with the plea agreement, defendant was sentenced to 112 months in prison. After defendant was sentenced, his conviction on a predicate offense was vacated and then became the basis of his section 2255 motion. View "United States v. Hoskins" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed defendant's 288 month sentence after he pleaded guilty for conspiracy to manufacture and distribute, and to import into the United States, five or more kilograms of cocaine. The court held principally that the district court did not err in applying the enhancement under USSG 2D1.1(b)(15)(C) to calculate defendant's Guidelines score, properly determining that defendant's drug‐related activity outside the United States constituted direct involvement in the importation of a controlled substance. In this case, the government presented sufficient evidence to show that defendant participated directly in transporting hundreds of kilograms of cocaine from South America through Honduras for Mexican drug cartels to smuggle into the United States. View "United States v. Lobo" on Justia Law

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Defendant appealed his 108 month sentence for his role in a robbery and a firearms offense. The Second Circuit held that the two level enhancement for physically restraining a person during the robbery, pursuant to USSG 2B3.1(b)(4)(B), was not validly imposed. In this case, the undisputed facts, revealed by a surveillance videotape, showed that no one was "physically restrained" within the meaning of the applicable guideline during the robbery. Accordingly, the court remanded for recalculation of the sentencing range and for resentencing. View "United States v. St. Juste (Paul)" on Justia Law

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Defendant appealed his sentence of failure to register as a sex offender in violation of 18 U.S.C. 2250, arguing that the district court modified his sentence by including in the written judgment a duty to submit to polygraph testing that was not mentioned during pronouncement of sentence. The Second Circuit remanded for entry of an amended judgment, holding that the inclusion of a duty to submit to polygraph testing was, in this case, an impermissible modification of the spoken sentence, from which those words were omitted, because polygraph testing was burdensome to defendant and not a necessary or invariable component of sex‐offender treatment. View "United States v. Washington" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence for two counts of production of child pornography and four counts of possession of child pornography. The court held that the evidence was sufficient to convict defendant; the district court did not abuse its discretion by admitting evidence of his prior conviction for Criminal Sexual Act in the First Degree; and defendant's sentence of 360 months in prison and fifteen years of supervised release was substantively reasonable. View "United States v. Spoor" on Justia Law

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Defendant, a union local president, appealed his conviction of racketeering conspiracy and Hobbs Act extortion conspiracy for his efforts to force non‐union contractors to hire union members. The Second Circuit reversed the count of conviction for Hobbs Act conspiracy, affirmed the count of conviction for racketeering conspiracy, and remanded for resentencing. The court held that an an Enmons‐like exception did not apply to New York Penal Law extortion; the wages defendant attempted to extort were "property" capable of being extorted; the district court's threat instruction was correct with respect to New York Penal Law extortion; but the Government failed to prove defendant's involvement in the charged Hobbs Act conspiracy. View "United States v. Kirsch" on Justia Law