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March 25, 2010

Interesting sentencing issues covered as Second Circuit affirms peonage conviction

The Second Circuit has a lengthy opinion today in the intriguing case of US v. Sabhnani, No. 08-3720 (2d Cir. Mar. 25, 2010) (available here), which ends with 20+ pages discussing a variety or intriguing sentencing issues. Here is the opinion's own sumary of its coverage:
Defendants-Appellants Mahender Murlidhar Sabhnani and Varsha Mahender Sabhnani appeal from a judgment of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York (Spatt, J.).  Following a jury trial, both defendants were convicted on counts of forced labor, harboring aliens, peonage, and document servitude, as well as conspiracy to commit each of the substantive offenses, with Mahender Sabhnani receiving a sentence of 40 months’ imprisonment and Varsha Sabhnani a sentence of 132 months’ imprisonment. The district court further ordered both defendants to pay substantial restitution to their victims and to forfeit their ownership interest in their home, where their victims had been held during the commission of the crimes at issue.  On appeal, the Sabhnanis raise challenges to the district court’s refusal to grant the defendants’ request for a change of venue, its refusal to compel an independent psychiatric evaluation of a prosecution witness, its management of the presentation of witness testimony, the content of the jury instructions, the sufficiency of the evidence, the extent of the district court’s inquiry into purported juror misconduct, the calculation of the applicable Guidelines sentencing range, the amount of restitution, and the scope of the property forfeiture. We vacate the district court’s award of restitution to the victims and remand for recalculation of the amount. In all other respects we find Defendants-Appellants’ arguments to be without merit.

March 25, 2010 at 10:52 AM | Permalink


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