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In 1987, D’Antoni was charged with selling cocaine to a juvenile resulting in her death. While in jail, D’Antoni offered another inmate $4,000 to kill a government witness related to the charge. The inmate went to the police. D’Antoni was charged with conspiracy to kill a government witness and pleaded guilty to both charges. The Seventh Circuit affirmed his sentence of 35 years in prison on the drug charge and a consecutive 5-year term for the conspiracy. In 1991, D’Antoni was convicted of conspiracy to distribute LSD while in jail and received an enhanced sentence under the career offender provision of the 1990 Sentencing Guidelines, based on his prior felony drug and felony “crime of violence” convictions. The “crime of violence” definition included a residual clause, encompassing any felony “involv[ing] conduct that present[ed] a serious potential risk of physical injury to another." D’Antoni was sentenced before the Supreme Court (Booker) held that the Guidelines must be advisory. In 2015, the Supreme Court (Johnson), held the identical Armed Career Criminal Act residual clause “violent felony” definition was unconstitutional. D’Antoni sought resentencing, 28 U.S.C. 2255. In 2017, the Supreme Court held that Johnson did not extend to the post-Booker advisory Guidelines residual clause. The Seventh Circuit held, in its 2018 “Cross” decision, that Johnson did render the pre-Booker mandatory Guidelines residual clause unconstitutionally vague. The Seventh Circuit concluded that D’Antoni is entitled to resentencing even though “conspiracy,” “murder,” and “manslaughter” were listed as crimes of violence in the application notes to the 1990 version of USSG 4B1.2. The application notes’ list of qualifying crimes is valid only as an interpretation of USSG 4B1.2’s residual clause; because Cross invalidated that residual clause, the application notes no longer have legal force. View "D'Antoni v. United States" on Justia Law

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A jury convicted Young of attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization, 18 U.S.C. 2339B, and two counts of attempting to obstruct justice, 18 U.S.C. 1512(c)(2). The Fourth Circuit affirmed the material support conviction, vacated the obstruction convictions, and remanded for resentencing. The court upheld the district court’s admission of the Nazi and white supremacist paraphernalia found during a search of Young’s home; the rejection of an entrapment defense; various evidentiary rulings; and the certification of an expert witness on militant Islamist and Nazi “convergence.” The evidence was insufficient to prove the nexus and foreseeability requirements of the obstruction statute; the government was required to prove Young “corruptly” attempted to “obstruct[], influence[], or impede[]” “an official proceeding. In neither specified situation in which Young made statements to the FBI or to others was Young’s conduct connected to a specific official proceeding, nor was such a specific official proceeding reasonably foreseeable to Young. View "United States v. Young" on Justia Law

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Chunn was sleeping in the Amtrak waiting area in Pennsylvania Station when he was roused by Amtrak Police Officer Coleman. An altercation ensued and Chunn was arrested for disorderly conduct, trespassing, and resisting arrest. During a search incident to this arrest, officers discovered $10,400 cash in Chunn’s pocket, confiscated the cash. After an investigation by Amtrak’s Criminal Investigation Division and an Amtrak officer assigned to the Amtrak‐DEA joint task force, the DEA decided to seize the money for possible forfeiture as proceeds of drug sales. Amtrak transferred the cash to the DEA and gave Chunn a receipt. Chunn sued Amtrak and Amtrak officers, alleging that Amtrak’s transfer of his property without first offering him an opportunity to contest the transfer violated his due process rights, 42 U.S.C. 1983, and amounted to conversion under New York law. The Second Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of the defendants and denied Chunn’s motion to amend his complaint to add as a defendant the Amtrak officer responsible for turning over Chunn’s property to the DEA. Due process is afforded by the required post‐deprivation procedures and Chunn was not unlawfully deprived of his property. View "Chunn v. Amtrak" on Justia Law

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Ceara, a state inmate who claims that he was assaulted by a prison corrections officer, filed a pro se complaint raising claims under 42 U.S.C. 1983, naming “John Doe” as the officer who allegedly assaulted him but also described and named that officer as “Officer Deagan.” After the statute of limitations had expired, Ceara amended his complaint to correctly name “C.O. Deagan” as “Officer Joseph Deacon.” The district court dismissed on the ground that an amended complaint identifying a defendant to replace a “John Doe” placeholder does not relate back to the original complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(c)(1)(C). The Second Circuit vacated and remanded. Ceara’s complaint was not a true John Doe complaint; his amendment to correct a misspelling related back under 15 Rule 15(c)(1)(C). View "Ceara v. Deacon" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals held that a correctional facility’s release to prosecutors or law enforcement agencies of recordings of nonprivileged telephone calls made by pretrial detainees, who are notified that their calls will be monitored and recorded, does not violate the Fourth Amendment. Defendant was charged with multiple offenses and committed the custody of the New York City Department of Correction. At trial, the prosecution sought to introduce excerpts of four phone calls Defendant made from prison recorded by DOC containing incriminating statements. Supreme Court admitted the recordings into evidence. The Appellate Division affirmed, concluding that the DOC’s failure to notify Defendant that the recordings of his calls may be turned over to prosecutors did not render the calls inadmissible. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) detainees, who are informed of the monitoring and recording of their calls, have no objectively reasonable constitutional expectation of privacy in the content of those calls; and (2) therefore, a correctional facility does not violate the Fourth Amendment when it records and monitors detainees’ calls and then shares the recordings with law enforcement officials and prosecutors. View "People v. Diaz" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the order of the circuit court denying Defendant’s motion for continuance pursuant to Va. Code 19.2-159.1, holding that there was no reversible error in the court of appeals’ judgment. Defendant pled guilty to a single charge of robbery. At a sentencing hearing, Defendant sought and was granted a continuance to July 15. On July 14, Defendant filed a motion to substitute counsel and also sought a continuance pursuant to section 19.2-159.1. The circuit court declined to substitute counsel and denied the motion for continuance. The court of appeals affirmed, ruling that Defendant failed to demonstrate exceptional circumstances to obtain a last-minute continuance. On appeal, Defendant asserted that section 19.2-159.1 required him to obtain private counsel, which he had done, and that he was therefore entitled to a continuance. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the statute confers no rights on defendants, and therefore, defendants are entitled to no remedy if a court declines to substitute counsel and grant a continuance for counsel to prepare. View "Reyes v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeal affirmed Defendant’s conviction of reckless driving, holding that there was sufficient evidence that Defendant acted with wanton disregard for safety, that there was no trial error warranting reversal, and that any error in imposing Defendant’s sentence was harmless. Defendant was convicted of reckless driving after causing a head-on collision that resulted in significant injuries to two victims. The superior court sentenced Defendant to an aggregate term of six years incarceration - the high term of three years for the conviction plus three years for a great-bodily-injury enhancement, to run consecutively. The Court of Appeal affirmed, holding (1) substantial evidence supported Defendant’s conviction; (2) the superior court did not deny Defendant his constitutional right to present a defense by barring him from cross-examining an officer about the details of other accidents near the collision site; (3) a great-bodily-injury enhancement may attach to felony reckless driving; (4) the superior court did not abuse its discretion in deciding to impose the high term in this case; and (5) any error in assessing Defendant’s presumptive probation eligibility was harmless. View "People v. Escarcega" on Justia Law

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Dhinsa is serving six life sentences for multiple convictions concerning his leadership role in a racketeering enterprise. Dhinsa’s habeas corpus petition challenged two convictions, on counts of murdering a potential witness (18 U.S.C. 1512(a)(1)(C). The Second Circuit vacated the denial of relief. Although habeas relief would not affect the length of his incarceration, Dhinsa had standing based the $100 special assessment that attached to each conviction--a concrete, redressable injury. Dhinsa did not, however, satisfy the jurisdictional prerequisites for a 28 U.S.C. 2241 habeas petition under section 2255(e)'s savings clause, which is available if “the remedy by motion is inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of his detention.” Dhinsa asserted his innocence under the Supreme Court’s 2011 “Fowler” decision, which requires the government to show in a section 1512(a)(1)(C) prosecution that the murder victim was “reasonably likely” to have communicated with a federal official had he not been murdered. Dhinsa’s extensive racketeering enterprise represents a type of criminal activity that is commonly investigated and prosecuted by federal officials. A juror could reasonably find that each of Dhinsa’s victims was “reasonably likely” to have communicated with federal officials. Because this test is jurisdictional, however, the court erred in denying the petition on the merits and should have dismissed the petition for lack of jurisdiction. View "Dhinsa v. Krueger" on Justia Law

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NRP made preliminary arrangements with the City of Buffalo to build affordable housing on city‐owned land and to finance the project in part with public funds. The project never came to fruition, allegedly because NRP refused to hire a political ally of the mayor. NRP sued the city, the Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency, the mayor, and other officials The district court resolved all of NRP’s claims in favor of defendants. The Second Circuit affirmed. NRP’s civil RICO claim against the city officials is barred by common‐law legislative immunity because the mayor’s refusal to take the final steps necessary to approve the project was discretionary legislative conduct, and NRP’s prima facie case would require a fact-finder to inquire into the motives behind that protected conduct. NRP’s “class of one” Equal Protection claim was properly dismissed because NRP failed to allege in sufficient detail the similarities between NRP’s proposed development and other projects that previously received the city’s approval. NRP’s claim for breach of contract was properly dismissed because the city’s “commitment letter” did not create a binding preliminary contract in conformity with the Buffalo City Charter’s requirements for municipal contracting. NRP fails to state a claim for promissory estoppel under New York law, which requires proof of “manifest injustice.” View "NRP Holdings LLC v. City of Buffalo" on Justia Law

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Timbs pleaded guilty in Indiana state court to dealing in a controlled substance and conspiracy to commit theft. The police seized a Land Rover SUV Timbs had purchased with money he received from an insurance policy when his father died. The state sought civil forfeiture of Timbs’s vehicle, charging that it had been used to transport heroin. Observing that Timbs had recently purchased the vehicle for more than four times the maximum $10,000 monetary fine assessable against him for his drug conviction, the trial court denied that request. The Indiana Supreme Court reversed. The U.S. Supreme Court vacated. The Eighth Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause is an incorporated protection applicable to the states under the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause, which incorporates and renders applicable to the states Bill of Rights protections “fundamental to our scheme of ordered liberty,” or “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition.” The Excessive Fines Clause carries forward protections found in sources from Magna Carta to the English Bill of Rights to state constitutions from the colonial era to the present day. Excessive fines undermine other liberties. They can be used to retaliate against or chill the speech of political enemies. In considering whether the Fourteenth Amendment incorporates a Bill of Rights protection, the question is whether the right guaranteed—not every particular application of that right—is fundamental or deeply rooted. The Excessive Fines Clause is incorporated regardless of whether application of the Clause to civil in rem forfeitures is itself fundamental or deeply rooted. View "Timbs v. Indiana" on Justia Law