United States v. Taylor (U.S. Supreme Court, June 2022)

The Federal Docket

June 29, 2022

Justin Taylor was convicted via plea one one count of attempted Hobbs Act robbery under 18 USC 1951(a) and one count of possessing a firearm during a “crime of violence” under 18 USC 924(c). He was sentenced to 30 years on both counts and ultimately filed a habeas petition, arguing that his attempted Hobbs Act robbery was not a “crime of violence” under 924(c).

Taylor relied on the Supreme Court’s recent decision in United States v. Davis, where the Court held the residual clause of 924(c) was unconstitutional, and argued that his Hobbs Act offense did not meet the definition of “crime of violence” under either of the remaining two clauses–the enumerated clause (which lists specific offenses) and the elements clause (which includes any offenses that categorically require force as an element).

In a 7-2 decision, the Supreme Court held that attempted Hobbs Act robbery does not qualify as a “crime of violence” under 924(c) “because no element of the offense requires proof that the defendant used, attempted to use, or threatened to use force.” Applying the categorical approach, the Court held that a generic defendant could be convicted of attempted Hobbs Act robbery without using or threatening force based simply on their “intent” and their taking a non-forceful “substantial step.” Under the categorical approach, it is irrelevant that, in some cases, that substantial step could include violent conduct.

Certiorari to the Fourth Circuit
Opinion by Gorsuch, joined by Roberts, Breyer, Sotomayor, Kagan, Kavanaugh, and Barrett
Dissent by Thomas
Dissent by Alito

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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