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

The Federal Docket

March 5, 2021

ACCA/Career Offender – First degree manslaughter under New York state law is categorically a “crime of violence” under the force clauses of the ACCA and the Career Offender Guidelines.

Sitting en banc, the Second Circuit held in a 9-5 opinion that first degree manslaughter under New York law is a “violent felony” under the ACCA and the Career Offender Guidelines. The court rejected the defendant’s argument, and the district court’s reasoning for granting the defendant’s 2255 motion, that New York manslaughter is not a “crime of violence” under the categorically approach because the statute allows manslaughter to be committed by omission rather than only through an act of force or threat of force. Critical to the majority’s decision was that the New York offense involves elements requiring both death and an intent to cause serious bodily injury or death.

There were several concurring and dissenting opinions criticizing the categorical approach, invoking the rule of lenity, and substantively disagreeing that manslaughter by omission or inaction is categorically a crime of violence.

Majority opinion by Raggi, joined by Livingston, Cabranes, Chin, Sullivan, Bianco, Park, Nardini, Menashi
Concurring opinion by L Park, joined by Livingston, Cabranes, Sullivan, Nardini
Concurring opinion by Menashi
Dissenting opinion by Leval, joined by Katzmann, Lohier, Carney, Pooler
Dissenting opinion, joined by Leval, Carney

Click here to read the opinion.

Tom Church - Tom is a trial and appellate lawyer focusing on criminal defense and civil trials. Tom is the author of "The Federal Docket" and is a contributor to Mercer Law Review's Annual Survey in the areas of federal sentencing guidelines and criminal law. Tom graduated with honors from the University of Georgia Law School where he served as a research assistant to the faculty in the areas of constitutional law and civil rights litigation. Read Tom's reviews on AVVO. Follow Tom on Linkedin.

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