Second Circuit

The Federal Docket

United States v. Goodrich (2nd Cir. September 2021)

The Second Circuit vacated a $2.3 million restitution order against a defendant convicted of securities fraud. The Court held that most of the alleged victims’ losses came from purchasing shares of a sham company outside of a public market, in a private placement. Since the private placement was arranged by the defendant’s co-conspirators and there was no evidence that the defendant was involved in planning or executing the private placement, the defendant could not be held accountable for those losses as the proximate or direct cause.

United States v. Cabrera (2nd Cir. September 2021)

The Second Circuit vacated a defendant’s conviction for distributing fentanyl. The Court held that the defendant only has to present “some credible evidence” regarding government inducement in order to obtain an instruction on entrapment. The Government’s law enforcement witness also improperly testified that the defendant was an experienced drug dealer, which required specialized knowledge.

United States v. Stillwell, et al. (2d Cir. January 2021)

The Second Circuit remanded a case to give the defendants an opportunity to file post-conviction motions based on the Government’s alleged violation of Brady v. Maryland. The Court vacated a protective order previously obtained ex parte by the DOJ, disclosed the documents to the defense as new evidence, and remanded for the district court to determine if a new trial was warranted.

United States v. Gerald Scott (2d Cir. March 2021, EN BANC)

Sitting en banc, the Second Circuit held that first degree manslaughter under New York law is categorically a “crime of violence” under the ACCA and the Career Offender provision of the Guidelines. Despite the fact that the offense can be committed through omission or inaction, as opposed to only through act of force or threat of force, the Court concluded it fit the bill under the force clauses of the ACCA because it required a victim’s death and a defendant’s intent to cause at least serious bodily injury.

United States v. Gatto, et al (2d Cir. January 2021)

The Second Circuit affirmed the convictions of three men who had recruited college basketball players to certain universities by giving their families secret cash payments and then lying to the NCAA about it. The Court held that the elements of wire fraud were met because, through the defendants’ misrepresentations, they had deprived the universities of scholarship money paid to the college athletes that could have gone to eligible athletes that did not receive cash payments.

United States v. Fernando Clarke (2d Cir. October 2020)

The Second Circuit affirmed a defendant’s conviction for “transporting” child pornography after government agents downloaded illegal images from the defendant’s computer through a peer-to-peer filesharing program. The Court held there was sufficient evidence that the defendant knew he was making his images available for others to download based on his knowledge of how peer-to-peer programs work and that he had “transported” the images “by wittingly participating in a file-sharing network and downloading files from the computers of others” which “implicitly invited other participants in the file-sharing network to share his files, and enabled them to do so.”

United States v. Thomas Alonzo Bolin (2nd Cir. September 2020)

The Second Circuit vacated a defendant’s supervised release condition and remanded for resentencing holding that a condition of release prohibiting him from online speech promoting or endorsing violence was unconstitutionally vague and violated defendant’s right to free speech under the First Amendment. The Court held that language in the condition defining “violence” included open-ended language allowing the condition to be applied without limits.

United States v. Volvy “Zev” Smilowitz (2d Cir. September 2020)

The Second Circuit affirmed defendant’s conviction for bribing individuals to register to vote and submitting false voter registrations, holding that the federal election statute applied to defendant influencing a strictly local election since voter registration is part of a unitary system that governs local, state and federal elections regardless of the defendant’s intent to affect only a local election.

United States v. Jeremy Zullo (2d Cir. September 2020)

In a matter of first impression, the Second Circuit became the first circuit court to examine the effect of the First Step Act on the compassionate release statute, 18 U.S.C. 3582(c)(1)(A), and its counterpart U.S.S.G. 1B1.13. The Court held that the First Step Act gives district courts broad discretion to define what circumstances constitute “extraordinary and compelling reasons” warranting an inmate’s release.

United States v. Juan Solano (2nd Cir. July 2020)

The Second Circuit reversed a defendant’s conviction. The defendant testified at trial, and the district court plainly erred in instructing the jury that any witness with an interest in the outcome of the case may have a motive to testify falsely, as it cut against the presumption of innocence and prejudiced the defendant.

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