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Second Circuit

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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.

United States v. Brandon Jones (2nd Cir. July 2020)

The Second Circuit upheld a conviction for using fictitious government documents because 18 U.S.C. § 514 applies to both fake versions of existing documents and wholly contrived, fake documents. The Court held that evidence that a defendant used inauthentic documents, misrepresented government employment, and paid with fake purchase orders is sufficient to uphold a conviction.

United States v. Jaquan Walker (2nd Cir. July 2020)

The Second Circuit held that a defendant’s stop was unconstitutional where it was based on the officer receiving an email with a photograph of a suspect who only shared general characteristics with the defendant and the photo did not involve any criminal activity. The Court also held that the attenuation doctrine did not apply because the officers’ misconduct was purposeful or flagrant due to the extreme lack of reasonable suspicion.

United States v. Colinford Mattis, Urooj Rahman (2d Cir. June 2020)

In a case involving young lawyers charged with throwing molotov cocktails into an unoccupied police cruiser, the Second Circuit affirmed the district court’s order releasing them on bond pending trial. The Court concluded that the district court did not clearly err in determining the conditions of release were adequate to safeguard the community and that it did not err by not explicitly mentioning the statutory presumption against release in its order.

United States v. Albi Doka (2d Cir. April 2020)

Upon the defendant’s appeal of his revocation of supervised release, the Second Circuit held that the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Haymond did not overrule its prior precedent that district courts may engage in fact-finding when revoking a defendant’s supervised release and imposing an additional term of imprisonment under 18 U.S.C. § 3583(e)(3).

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