Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

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The Second Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence after he was convicted of stalking his victim for seven years. The district court appropriately applied a two-level sentencing enhancement for threatened use of a dangerous weapon under USSG 2A6.2(a), (b)(1)(D)‐(E), and thus defendant's sentence was not procedurally unreasonable. The court also held that defendant's 37 month sentence was substantively reasonable where the district court considered the 18 U.S.C. 3553(a) factors and appropriately accounted for the severity and duration of defendant's conduct and the extent of the harm inflicted on the victim. View "United States v. Yilmaz" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment and held that the district court did not improperly delegate its judicial authority to the United States Probation Office when it ordered as a special condition of supervised release that defendant submit to mental health and substance abuse testing and evaluation and follow "any treatment recommendations." The court also held that defendant's sentence was not procedurally unreasonable where the district court applied an official victim enhancement under USSG 3A1.2(c)(1), and declined to grant a downward departure under USSG 5K2.23. View "United States v. Young" on Justia Law

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Guided by its recent decision in United States v. Townsend, 897 F.3d 66 (2d Cir. 2018), the Second Circuit concluded that the phrase "controlled substance" as used in the 2014 Guidelines' definition of "felony drug trafficking offense" refers exclusively to those substances controlled under federal law. The court also held that the Arizona statute that defendant was convicted of was broader than corresponding federal law because it included substances not listed by the federal Controlled Substances Act. In this case, defendant's Arizona conviction did not qualify as a felony trafficking offense under USSG 2L1.2. Therefore, the district court procedurally erred in sentencing defendant. The court vacated the sentence and remanded for resentencing. View "United States v. Guerrero" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit vacated the district court's denial of a motion for a new trial after defendant was convicted of importing and possessing with intent to distribute cocaine. The court held that the Government's pre-trial disclosure violated Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 16(a)(1)(A). In this case, the Government's disclosure during an initial inspection misled the defense into forgoing a pretrial motion to suppress the statement. Furthermore, defendant suffered substantial prejudice as a result of the violation. Therefore, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "United States v. Vinas" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed defendant's 240 month sentence after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. The court held that, although defendant's plea agreement contained an appellate waiver, the plea agreement was not supported by consideration and the court declined to enforce it to bar defendant's appeal. On the merits, the court held that the district court did not commit procedural error when it refused to apply a 3‐level reduction under USSG 2X1.1(b)(2) for a conspiracy that ripened into a substantially completed offense or came close enough to fruition. Furthermore, defendant's sentence was substantively reasonable where the district court considered defendant's mental illness as a mitigating factor along with other sentencing factors. View "United States v. Lutchman" on Justia Law

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Defendant, a professional sports gambler, appealed his conviction of securities fraud and related crimes. The Second Circuit held that, although it was undisputed that a special agent's leaks to reporters violated the grand jury secrecy provision of Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e), dismissal of the indictment was not appropriate in these circumstances where defendant failed to demonstrate prejudice by the agent's actions. Furthermore, the court noted that there was no due process violation where the violations were not so systematic and pervasive as to raise a substantial and serious question about the fundamental fairness of the process resulting in the indictment, nor were they so outrageous that they violated common notions of fairness and decency. The court also held that the district court did not clearly err in its factual determinations or abuse its discretion in denying the Rule 33 motion, and the evidence was insufficient to support defendant's counts of conviction related to Darden. Finally, the court vacated and remanded the restitution order, and affirmed the forfeiture order. View "United States v. Walters" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit vacated the district court's grant of a petition for a writ of habeas corpus based on ineffective assistance of counsel. The court held that, given the strong evidence of petitioner's guilty, he failed to show that his defense was constitutionally prejudiced by trial counsel's conduct. In this case, there was no basis for concluding that petitioner established a substantial likelihood of a different result, even if his attorney had obtained the phone records at issue prior to trial. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Garner v. Lee" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit vacated defendant's conviction of charges related to his involvement in an insider trading scheme where he provided material, nonpublic information to his father. At issue was the so-called "silver platter statement," where defendant purportedly told his father that he expected his father to invest based upon information to which defendant had access through his work as an investment banker. The court held that excluding the father's post-arrest FBI interview was not harmless. In this case, defendant should not have been precluded from impeaching the silver platter statement. The court held that, because the impeachment material might have undermined the silver platter statement in the eyes of the jury, it risked leaving the government with a substantially weaker case as to defendant's intent such that a guilty verdict would be far from assured. View "United States v. Stewart" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for conspiring to engage in racketeering in violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). The court held that the government was not precluded from using acquitted substantive offenses as racketeering predicates in the second RICO conspiracy charge; the government was not precluded from using acquitted non-RICO conspiracy offenses as racketeering predicates in the second RICO conspiracy charge; and the district court properly admitted evidence from the first trial because the evidence was used for different, non-precluded purposes in the second trial. The court also held that the district court did not err by allowing a transcript that identified defendant as the speaker to serve as a jury aid with respect to the properly-admitted recording, and in allowing the transcript to be reviewed by the jury during its deliberations. Finally, the court rejected defendant's claim of cumulative error. View "United States v. Zemlyansky" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence issued on remand, holding that the district court effectively complied with the court's instruction to significantly reduce defendant's sentence and the sentence was now within the realm of reasonableness. In this case, defendant pleaded guilty to sexual exploitation of children and receipt of child pornography, and was originally sentenced primarily to 30 years in prison and a lifetime of supervised release. After remand for resentencing, the district court disagreed with the court's analysis but found that defendant's exemplary record as an inmate justified a reduction to 25 years. View "United States v. Sawyer" on Justia Law