2nd Circuit Criminal Law News - U.S. Second Circuit
U.S. Second Circuit - The FindLaw 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

Recently in Criminal Law Category

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.

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.

Courts cannot apply the armed career criminal sentencing minimum based on juvenile offenses, the Second Circuit ruled on Monday. Just like your childhood paper route doesn't make you a career journalist, neither can a juvenile offense be used to apply a career criminal enhancement.

The case involved Jamell Sellers, who received a statutory mandatory minimum sentence of fifteen years under the Armed Career Criminal Act, in part based on his juvenile drug conviction. That conviction, in which Sellers was adjudicated as a youthful offender, can't count as one of the predicate three prior convictions needed under the ACCA, the Second Circuit found. The Second Circuit's decision to nerf the federal version of a "three strikes" law comes just as the Supreme Court considers whether the Act results in unconstitutionally excessive sentences.

Inside traders can breathe a sigh of relief today. The Second Circuit has refused to revisit a ruling which federal prosecutors had said would severely limit their ability to pursue insider trading cases.

Prosecutors had asked the Second Circuit Court of Appeals to rehear the case of hedge fund managers Todd Newman and Anthony Chiasson. The court had reversed the pair's convictions on insider trading charges last December.

Following the Eric Garner and Michael Brown grand jury non-indictments, many of us wondered why grand juries are still hanging around. The Constitution requires only that the federal government use grand juries to indict criminal suspects, and yet 23 states still require the use of these bodies for serious felonies.

The problem is that grand juries are secretive (intentionally so) and not subject to the same protections as, say, preliminary hearings, like the right to counsel and the right to cross-examine witnesses. One prominent jurist wants to change that.

A peculiar bit of appellate procedure attended the issuance of an amended opinion in Garcia v. Does, the "Occupy Wall Street" case in which Occupy protesters claimed they were escorted onto the Brooklyn Bridge by police, then arrested when they were halfway across.

Though the protesters won in federal district court, and again before a three-judge panel of the Second Circuit, that same panel reversed itself Monday. The panel remanded the case to Judge Jed Rakoff with instructions to dismiss the complaint, dissolving the en banc rehearing before it started.

Back in July, Microsoft lost a battle to protect data stored on Irish email servers, wholly owned and controlled by Microsoft, from the U.S. Justice Department. All we know about these email MacGuffins is that they have something to do with drugs.

Appealing to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, Microsoft argues that, because the magnetic particles comprising the data are physically located in Ireland, those particles -- and the data they represent -- are protected by Irish and European privacy laws, meaning Microsoft can't be compelled to turn them over.

2nd Cir. Massively Limits Insider Trading Prosecutions

The Second Circuit called it "doctrinal novelty." Others might have called it made-up law.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, led by Preet Bharara, called it insider trading despite increasingly tenuous connections between the traders and the tipsters, and a complete and utter lack of proof that the traders knew that the tippers benefited from the trades.

In short, it was a crime without a mens rea. The USAO stretched insider trading prosecutions as far as they could possibly go -- until the Second Circuit snapped back.

Ex-Conn. Gov. Convicted Again, Could Face Up to 57 Years in Prison

The year was 2004. Paul Giamatti shined in "Sideways," a dramedy that would win the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. Usher's "Yeah!," featuring rapper Ludacris and producer Lil Jon was tearing up the Billboard charts. And Connecticut Gov. John G. Rowland was headed to prison after pleading guilty to accepting inappropriate gifts from individuals with contracts with the state.

Ten years later, I finally got around to watching "Sideways." (Dark, depressing, and hilarious.) And the former governor? He's headed back to prison after being convicted of another corrupt political deal -- a campaign finance violation for a losing congressional race. And while last time, Gov. Rowland only served 10 months, this time he faces up to 57 years, reports The New York Times.