Category: Uncategorized

Important 1st Circuit Case on Vacating Priors

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In Cuevas v. United States, No. 14-1296, the First Circuit reversed a ruling by Judge Stearns that a claim for re-sentencing was not cognizable under 28 U.S.C. 2255.    The petitioner had vacated prior state convictions enhancing his federal sentence on the grounds that Annie Dookhan had been involved in the cases.  The First Circuit ruled that vacating […]

1st Circuit: MA Simple Assault Not Crime of Violence

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The First Circuit in United States v. Martinez, No. 12-2219, has ruled that a Massachusetts simple assault is not categorically a crime of violence because under Massachusetts law, a simple assault may be committed by an attempt or threat to commit an offensive touching.  It also ruled that a Massachusetts assault and […]

Sentencing Commission votes to make reductions retroactive

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The Sentencing Commission voted unanimously to apply the reductions in the sentencing guideline levels applicable to most federal drug trafficking offenders retroactively.  Implementation will be delayed: Judges can begin to consider applications on November 1, 2014, but clients won’t be eligible for release until November 1, 2015.  The Commission described its action in this press release.

Important 1st Circuit SORNA Case

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In United States v. Roberson, the First Circuit has ruled that vacating a prior sex offense obligating a defendant to register as a sex offender does not require dismissal of a  federal failure to register charge under SORNA.  It reasoned that SORNA imposes a civil disability conditioned on the historical fact of conviction, […]

Child Pornography Restitution

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In a 5-4 opinion, the Supreme Court in Paroline v. United States, No. 12-8561,  upheld restitution in child pornography cases “only to the extent the defendant’s offense proximately caused a victim’s losses.”  Guidance as to what this means is less than clear.  The Court rejected the argument that any one defendant is responsible […]

Commission Votes to Adjust Drug Quantity Table

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The U.S. Sentencing Commission on April 10 voted unanimously  to adjust the Drug Quantity Table down by 2 levels.  The amendment will be submitted to Congress by May 1, 2014.  Unless Congress decides otherwise, it will take effect on November 1, 2014. This vote can now be used in an applicable  case to argue for a […]

Vacating state Dookhan priors

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The Committee for Public Counsel Services drug lab litigation unit has produced, in the wake of the SJC’s Scott decision, a practice advisory and post argument letter for litigation of Dookhan cert cases and cases in which a defendant can demonstrate that Dookhan was significantl;y involved in the analysis of the alleged drugs.

Juvenile Adjudications as ACC Predicates

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Under 18 USC 924(e)(2)(B), a violent felony includes juvenile adjudications “involving the use or carrying of a firearm, knife, or explosive device.” In US v. Bankhead, 2014 WL 539754 (8th Cir. Feb. 12, 2014), the court held that under the Supreme Court’s Descamps case, it is improper to apply the “modified categorical approach” […]

DOJ: Prosecutors Should Not Object To Application of Proposed Guidelines

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In a March 14, 2014 press release, DOJ reports that the Justice Department will direct prosecutors not to object if defendants seek  to have the guidelines proposed in January that would reduce the drug quantity table by two levels applied to their cases.  The Commission is expected to vote on the proposed reductions in April, and the […]