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August 15, 2008

Notable Second Circuit ACCA ruling

The Second Circuit today has an interesting ruling about the application of the Armed Career Criminal Act in US v. Darden, No. 06-4567 (2d Cir. Aug 15, 2008) (available here).  Here is how the decision starts:

These four appeals, heard in tandem and consolidated for disposition, raise the same legal question: whether a prior conviction for a New York drug offense can serve as a predicate “serious drug offense” under the Armed Career Criminal Act (“ACCA”) where New York’s Rockefeller drug laws prescribed a maximum sentence of at least ten years for the offense at the time it was committed, but where New York non-retroactively amended the Rockefeller drug laws, prior to the federal sentencing in these cases, to reduce the maximum sentence for the same offense conduct to less than ten years. We conclude that, under the plain terms of the ACCA, we must look to the current sentencing laws of the state to determine whether the drug offense is “serious.”  We further conclude that under current New York law, the maximum sentence prescribed for these offenses is less than ten years.

August 15, 2008 at 01:26 PM | Permalink


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