2nd Circuit Criminal Law News - U.S. Second Circuit
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Gambino Capo's 1981 Murder Convictions Upheld by 2nd Cir.

The Second Circuit upheld the murder convictions of Bartolomeo Vernace, ruling that the three decades-old murders might have started over a spilled drink dispute, but they certainly did not hurt the mafioso's reputation as a violent mobster.

The circuit's ruling marks a major victory against the Gambino crime family which has, over the years, suffered diminished power and influence.

Conviction(s) Overturned! Bond Trader's Misrepresentations 'Immaterial'

Ex-Jeffereies & Co. trader Jesse Litvak will get another day in court thanks to the ruling of the Second Circuit's Court of Appeals which essentially made Litvak a free man, at least temporarily.

The misrepresentation and fraud case has been one of the most followed cases on Wall Street in that it potentially marks the limitations of how far "materiality" can be stretched, and by whom.

Cop Who Fantasized About Cannibalism Is off the Hook

More than two years after a New York jury found 'Cannibal Cop' Gilberto Valle guilty on counts of conspiring to kidnap and eat women and for illegally using his access to a police database to scope out potential victims, Valle has been cleared of all charges.

The particular case is perhaps one of the more gruesome "thought police" cases to reach national recognition.

New York and Connecticut gun control laws prohibiting the possession of assault weapons and large-capacity magazines do not violate the Second Amendment, the Second Circuit ruled Monday. The laws were passed following the December, 2012, school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. In the attacks, 20-year-old Adam Lanza used three semiautomatic weapons to kill 20 children and six adults, firing 156 shots in less than five minutes.

The ruling upholds the core provisions of both laws, which were some of the only gun control legislation successfully enacted after the Sandy Hook attacks.

Fernando Bermudez spent 18 years in prison for a murder he did not commit. After a prosecution which was suspect from the beginning -- one which included suggestive photo arrays, police coercion, and a failure to investigate other suspects -- it took Bermudez almost two decades to get his conviction overturned, despite every witness recanting their testimony.

Bermudez will now be able to go forward with a civil suit for damages stemming from his wrongful imprisonment, after the Second Circuit ruled on Monday that there were triable questions of fact as to whether the faulty investigation violated Bermudez's constitutional rights.

When Homeland Security agents suspected that Yuri Bershchansky was electronically transmitting child porn, they obtained a search warrant, searched his home, seized his computer and got him to confess. Unfortunately, they got the address wrong. The warrant was for Apartment 2 in Bershchansky's building, while Yuri was in Apartment 1.

Searching the wrong address, even though it housed the right man, meant that agents had exceeded the scope of the warrant and all the evidence, from computer to confession, must be suppressed, the Second Circuit ruled last week.

The Second Circuit reversed a conviction for conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine on Wednesday. James Dickerson was convicted of conspiring with a New Haven, Connecticut, drug ring from which he bought and resold drugs. The jury viewed him as part of the drug ring's conspiracy based almost solely on the volume and frequency of drug purchases and resales.

That is too tenuous of a connection to support a conspiracy conviction, the Second Circuit reasoned. Prosecutors must show more than just large, regular purchases and resales in order to show that Dickerson was part conspiring as part of the ring, rather than simply being one of its customers.

Four years after an FBI dragnet brought down her husband, Arlene Drimal's lawsuit against agents who listened in to her privileged conversations with her husband has been dismissed. According to the Second Circuit, Drimal's allegations of improper wiretapping failed to assert sufficient facts under Iqbal and Twombly.

Drimal's husband, Craig Drimal, pleaded guilty to securities fraud in connection with the collapse of the Galleon hedge fund and its founder, Raj Rajaratnam, whose insider trading landed him one of the longest white collar criminal sentences ever. The case against Mr. Drimal and Rajartnam relied heavily on wiretaps.

The Second Circuit upheld the murder, racketeering, narcotics and firearms convictions of four members of the "Courtland Avenue Crew," a violent gang from the Bronx. One defendant's convictions relied partially on evidence gathered from social media, including a rap video and photos of tattoos taken from Facebook.

That defendant, Melvin Colon, was convicted in part for the execution of Delquan Alston, who he thought was an informant. On appeal, he argued that the Facebook evidence was procured through an unconstitutional law, the Stored Communications Act, and that its use in the trial violated his First Amendment rights. The Second Circuit wasn't convinced.

Psychiatrist Couldn't Testify in Child Abuse Case, Says N.Y. Ct.

What are the limits of the doctor/patient privilege as it relates to an admission of child abuse? Can a doctor, or a psychiatrist, call the police, or children's services, if the psychiatrist suspects his client of child sexual abuse; or, indeed, if the client has admitted to it?

The answer to those questions are left unanswered by the New York Court of Appeals, but at the very least, we know that the psychiatrist can't testify at trial.