Justia Juvenile Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
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The Second Circuit affirmed defendant's 55-year sentence imposed for his conviction of participating in a pattern of racketeering activity evidenced by his role in the murder of four teenagers. Defendant was 15 years old at the time of the offense and a member of the MS-13 gang when he participated in the execution-style murders of four members of a rival gang.The court assumed, for purposes of this appeal, that the district court was required to consider the factors in Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012), in determining that a sentence of 55 years, not subject to parole, was warranted for a defendant fifteen years old at the time of the homicide crimes. Even with this assumption, the court concluded that the district court considered the Miller factors and reasonably concluded that a further departure was not warranted. Acknowledging the broad scope of a sentencing judge's discretion and taking into account the care taken by the sentencing judge in exercising that discretion, the court concluded that defendant's sentence is not unreasonable in any legally cognizable sense. Finally, the court noted that defendant's sentence illustrates the unfortunate consequences of eliminating parole. Nevertheless, it is a sentence that a conscientious district judge concluded was appropriate and, upon review, the court affirmed. The court considered defendant's remaining arguments and found them to be without merit. View "United States v. Portillo" on Justia Law

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Defendant appealed his conviction for conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), as well as narcotics-conspiracy and firearm-possession charges related to his membership in the 10th Street Gang of Buffalo, New York. Defendant, who was seventeen years old at the time, participated in a double murder and was sentenced to life imprisonment.The Second Circuit rejected defendant's challenges to the introduction into evidence of a gun seized from his home; the denial of his motion for a mistrial based on a Bruton violation; the denial of his Batson challenges, and the denial of his requests for certain jury charges. However, the court held that the district court imposed defendant's sentence without explicitly considering his age at the time of the double murders, and thus violated the principle recognized in Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460, 471 (2012), that children are constitutionally different from adults for purposes of sentencing. Miller stated that those under the age of eighteen are different because the distinctive attributes of youth diminish the penological justifications for imposing the harshest sentences on juvenile offenders, even when they commit terrible crimes. Therefore, the court affirmed defendant's conviction but vacated his sentence, remanding for resentencing in light of Miller. View "United States v. Delgado" on Justia Law