Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

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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

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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 drugā€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