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March 12, 2014

Sixth Circuit to hear oral argument on extreme application of ACCA in US v. Young

A number of months ago in this post, titled "A few shotgun shells landed a man 15 years in federal prison," I reported on a remarkable federal sentencing story out of Tennessee involving an extreme application of the 15-year mandatory minimum federal sentencing term set out in the Armed Career Criminal Act.  I am now excited that tomorrow morning, a Sixth Circuit panel is scheduled to hear oral argument in this matter, US v. Young.  I am excited in part because I authored a brief on behalf of the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys (NACDL) setting out why this sentencing should be deemed unconstitutional under a proper application/interpretation of the Eighth Amendment.  And the Sixth Circuit has afforded me five minutes of argument time (taken from the Appellant's alloted time).

Notably, counsel for Mr. Young has on appeal has developed a Fifth Amendment challenge to the conviction as well as making Eighth Amendment arguments against the sentence.  And the feds, not surprisingly, contend there is no constitutional problem with the conviction and sentence in this case.  Readers interested in this case and the legal issues on appeal can review the briefs, which I am uploading here:

Download Brief of Appellant in US v. Young

Download Young Amicus FILED

Download Appellee's Briefin US v. Young

Download Reply Brief of Appellant in Young

Related prior posts:

March 12, 2014 at 08:12 PM | Permalink


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Give'em he'll Doug. The ACCA is most troubling. I am hoping you slide this past the Feds.

Good luck.

Posted by: MidwestGuy | Mar 12, 2014 9:41:13 PM

2 questions, unrelated:

1. Does that circuit ever produce recordings for oral arguments?

2. When do the 2 reform acts that passed Senate Judiciary Commitee hit the floor?

Posted by: Don S. | Mar 12, 2014 9:43:07 PM

Doug is a friend and a friendly adversary of mine, so I wish him the best at oral argument. I also congratulate defense counsel on having the good sense and modesty to welcome Doug's participation.

That said, I don't see how the defense wins this case. This is the fact that does it in (from the government's brief): "At the time that he obtained and possessed the shotgun shells, Defendant had already been convicted of numerous prior felonies, including four aggravated burglaries, three burglaries, five thefts, and two assaults."

Fifteen years for a guy with ammunition, and with felony convictions in double digits, does not come close to cruel and unusual punishment as the SCOTUS has defined it for the last 200 years or so.

I don't believe for one minute the defendant's implausible story or how he came into continuing possession of this ammo (he couldn't just have thrown it out?), but even if it's true, it doesn't matter.

We hear all this talk about "first time, low level" offenders, but this guy is neither. How many aggravated burglaries and assaults does he get before we get to be serious?

Fifteen years might be tough, but unconstitutional?

I've got $100 that says the sentence does not get overturned. Any takers?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Mar 12, 2014 9:43:47 PM

I agree with Bill, there is no way this exhorbitant sentence will not be upheld. But rather than be happy with this outcome like someone tearing wings off of a fly, I consider it to be a further indictment of the current Justus process.

The excuse of 100's of years of SC precedent just means 100's years of slowly depriving people of liberty at the altar of the State.

Keep going. The web of government self-deceit will not forever sustain itself. The 2nd amendment should still apply, even for felons who have served their sentence. The bastardy is the selectivity that government stooges think that these types of decisions will not eventually come back to haunt them with further disrespect for both the process and the perpetrators.

Posted by: albeed | Mar 13, 2014 12:12:05 AM

with the current bunch of two-faced retards on the bench now. You must be kidding. These are the same group of retards who said it was perfectly legal to lock up and do a strip search and body cavity search on a man after the 4th time he'd been arrested on a non existant bench warrant because the state was either too damn stupid or too damn lazy to update a damn computer database.

Posted by: rodsmith | Mar 13, 2014 12:12:46 AM

I find many possession of ammunition by a felon [18 U.S. C. section 922(g)(1)] cases troubling, particularly where the felon doesn't possess any weapon that the ammunition might fit. I served time at FCI - Manchester, Kentucky with a Tennessee man who had been convicted of "constructive possession" of a single shotgun shell, which was in his father's pickup truck door pocket, sitting in his father's farm driveway. The shotgun shell had no fingerprints on it. The felon son was eating Sunday dinner at his parents' farmhouse, after attending church, when an ATF Agent and a Deputy Sheriff came to visit. The son did not possess any shotgun or other weapon in which the shell could have been fired. Nevertheless, he was convicted. thought it was one of the worst miscarriages of justice I saw during my 8 years in 10 different Federal prisons.

Posted by: Jim Gormley | Mar 13, 2014 1:57:42 PM

I remember that one jim. good think I was't the father. I'd have walked out with shotgun the shells fit in and put it upside the Nazi wannabee's head and inform him I'm going to pull the trigger and then when his buddies show up I'm going to see if they decide "HE" had constructive possession of THAT SHELL.

Sorry but in my book any govt agent operating so far outside the REAL LAW as these were. They have NO protection from me and will receive whatever punishment they deserve.

Posted by: rodsmith | Mar 14, 2014 12:49:43 PM

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