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March 5, 2009

Notable Second Circuit ruling on interplay of mandatory minimum statutes

The Second Circuit handed down a notable ruling today in US v. Williams, 07-2436 (2d Cir. Mar. 5, 2009) (available here), which address the application of federal mandatory minimum sentencing statutes. Here is how the opinion starts:

Leon Williams appeals from a June 1, 2007, judgment of conviction and sentence of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Sand, J.).  Williams was convicted of a drug trafficking crime which carried a ten-year mandatory minimum sentence under 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A), and possession of a firearm in furtherance of that drug trafficking crime, an offense which carried a five-year mandatory minimum consecutive sentence “[e]xcept to the extent that a greater minimum sentence is otherwise provided by . . . any other provision of law” under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A)(i). In this opinion, we address whether the district court erred in imposing the five-year mandatory minimum consecutive sentence under Section 924(c)(1)(A)(i) even though a greater minimum sentence was provided for the predicate drug trafficking crime.  In United States v. Whitley, 529 F.3d 150 (2d Cir. 2008), reh’g denied, 540 F.3d 87 (2d Cir. 2008), we held that the mandatory minimum sentence under Section 924(c)(1)(A) was inapplicable where the defendant was subject to a longer mandatory minimum sentence for a career criminal firearm possession violation.  We now hold that the mandatory minimum sentence under Section 924(c)(1)(A) is also inapplicable where the defendant is subject to a longer mandatory minimum sentence for a drug trafficking offense that is part of the same criminal transaction or set of operative facts as the firearm offense.

March 5, 2009 at 02:32 PM | Permalink

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