Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

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The Second Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for being a felon in possession of a firearm. The court held that the police did not violate defendant's Fourth Amendment rights by returning to search his car, because both searches of defendant's car were valid inventory searches; contrary to defendant's argument, the district court did not abuse its discretion in declining to admit his post‐arrest statements denying ownership of the gun; and defendant's arguments regarding the inadmissibility of the evidence of his gang affiliation and willingness to assist the police either (a) failed because the evidence was properly admitted pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 404(b) and was not unfairly prejudicial or (b) were waived. View "United States v. Williams" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction of securities fraud and wire fraud, finding no errors in the district court's jury instructions, admission of lay testimony, and calculation of loss. The court also held that, as a matter of law, forfeiture is not limited to the amount of funds acquired through illegal transactions in an insider‐trading scheme; rather, forfeiture may extend to appreciation of those funds. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's forfeiture calculation and order. Finally, Lagos v. United States, 138 S. Ct. 1684 (2018), was decided after defendant's sentence and addressed the categories of fees recoverable under the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act. Therefore, the court held that a limited remand to recalculate the restitution was appropriate. View "United States v. Afriyie" on Justia Law

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The four-level sentencing enhancement under USSG 2G2.2(b)(4) may be applied based on images of sexual activity that would cause the depicted minor to experience mental, but not physical, pain. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment on the question of the four-level enhancement but remanded to the district court for further consideration of defendant's special condition of supervised release that broadly prohibits him from having contact with minors without pre-approval from the Probation Office. In this case, the district court plainly erred by adequately justifying its imposition of the special condition. View "United States v. Bleau" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's order committing defendant to the custody of the Attorney General under 18 U.S.C. 4241(d) for psychiatric treatment and evaluation. Defendant alleged that the district court's order violated his due process rights because a forensic psychologist stated that his disorder was degenerative and would not significantly improve with treatment. The court held that, under 18 U.S.C. 4241 et seq., commitment to assess future competency is mandatory, and only the district court, and not a forensic psychologist, can determine whether defendant will regain competency in the foreseeable future. In the absence of such a decision, the court held that defendant's commitment to the custody of the Attorney General for treatment and further evaluation was reasonably related to determining whether defendant will regain competency in the foreseeable future. Therefore, the court held that the district court constitutionally applied section 4241(d)'s commitment procedures to defendant. View "United States v. Brennan" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit reversed the district court's grant of habeas relief to petitioner under 28 U.S.C. 2254 from a state murder conviction. The court held that there are no categorical limits on the types of evidence that can be offered to demonstrate actual innocence and therefore the district court did not err in considering impeachment evidence; the district court did not clearly err in finding some of the new evidence petitioner offered to support his actual innocence claim credible; and even deferring to that credibility finding, however, on de novo review, petitioner failed to make a compelling showing of actual innocence necessary for merits review of his procedurally barred Sixth Amendment claim. In this case, the credible new evidence showed only that a recanting trial witness did not view the shootout at issue in the charged crimes, not that petitioner did not or could not have committed those crimes. Furthermore, under the totality of the evidence, the court could not conclude that it was more likely than not that no reasonable juror would find petitioner guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. View "Hyman v. Brown" on Justia 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

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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