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Showing 1 - 15 of 241 results

    • Brief

    McClinton v. United States

    Brief of Amici Curiae Americans For Prosperity Foundation, Dream Corps Justice, National Association of 
    Criminal Defense Lawyers, Niskanen Center, Right On Crime, The R Street Institute, and The Sentencing Project in Support of Petitioner.


    Argument: A sentencing judge should not be allowed to functionally overrule a jury's tal acquitof a criminal defendant and punish him for that same acquitted conduct. Yet all too many criminal defendants who were acquitted of more serious criminal charges but convicted on one or more lower charges face judges doing just that. How is this constitutionally dubious sentencing practice possible? Put simply, many lower courts have mistakenly overread this Court's per curiam decision in Watts to permit sentencing judges to do what Apprendi and its progeny later prohibited; namely, find facts that increase the punishment beyond that authorized by the jury's findings of guilt. Acquitted-conduct sentencing flips the presumption of innocence on its head by allowing judges to functionally overrule unanimous jury acquittals based on judge-found facts using the far lower preponderance standard, gutting the Sixth Amendment's jury-trial right. At a minimum, the Sixth Amendment jury-trial right, coupled with the due process requirement that all facts necessary to legally authorize punishment must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, should bar judges from using the same alleged conduct a jury acquitted a defendant of to justify dramatically increasing a defendant's Guidelines range and sentence.

    • Brief

    Luna-Aquino v. United States

    Brief of the National Association of Federal Defenders and National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers as Amici Curiae in Support of Petitioner.


    Argument: This case presents the question of the appropriate mens rea requirement for substantive drug offenses under 21 U.S.C. § 960. Section 960(a), which codifies the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, prohibits “knowingly or intentionally” importing or exporting a controlled substance. Section 960(b), in turn, specifies a series of aggravated offenses—and correspondingly severe punishments—based on the type and quantity of the “controlled substance” involved. See 21 U.S.C. § 960(b). A defendant who imports or distributes 280 grams of crack-cocaine, for instance, faces a mandatory minimum of ten years in prison. Id. § 960(b)(1)(C). A defendant who imports or distributes the same amount of marijuana faces no mandatory minimum and only a five-year statutory maximum. Id. § 960(b)(4) (cross-referencing id. § 841(b)(1)(D)). The question in this case is whether the government can subject a defendant to these escalating mandatory minimums and maximums without proving that he knew which illegal drug he was importing or the quantity of that illegal drug. The answer is no: Courts presume a statutory mens rea requirement applies to “all the material elements of the offense.” Rehaif v. United States, 139 S. Ct. 2191, 2195 (2019) (internal citation omitted). And any fact that increases the statutory minimum or maximum under Section 960 (or any other statute) is an element of an offense. See Alleyne v. United States, 570 U.S. 99, 116 (2013); Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466, 476–85 (2000). Therefore, defendants must know what drug they were importing before a court can subject them to statutorily increased sentences. See United States v. Collazo, 984 F.3d 1308, 1338 (9th Cir. 2021) (en banc) (Fletcher, J., dissenting).

    • Brief

    Jones v. Hendrix

    Brief of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Arkansas Civil Liberties Foundation as Amici Curiae in Support of Petitioner.


    Argument: Courts of appeals that have rejected petitioner's view of Section 2255(e) have held that relief under Section 2241 is available only if an incarcerated individual shows that Section 2255's remedy "was" inadequate or ineffective at the time of the individual's "first § 2255 motion." Pet. App. 7a (emphasis [*8] added); see also McCarthan v. Dir. of Goodwill Indus.-Suncoast, Inc., 851 F.3d 1076, 1081 (11th Cir. 2017) ("The petitioner bears the burden of establishing that the remedy by motion was 'inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of his detention.'") (emphasis added) (internal citation omitted); Prost v. Anderson, 636 F.3d 578, 594 (10th Cir. 2011) (similar). In other words, these courts have focused on the adequacy or efficacy of the remedy under Section 2255 in the past. This reasoning departs from the plain text of that statute. The relevant text of Section 2255(e) focuses on the present. It allows federal prisoners to seek habeas relief under Section 2241 when the remedy provided by Section 2255 " is inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of [their] detention." 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e) (emphasis added). Put another way, this saving clause asks whether Section 2255's remedy is currently inadequate or ineffective, not whether it was inadequate or ineffective.

    • Brief

    Hardin v. United States

    Brief of Amici Curiae Due Process Institute and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in Support of Petitioner.


    Argument: This case presents the question of whether a defendant's prior conviction for statutory rape under a state law that criminalizes consensual sexual conduct between a 21-year-old and a 17-year-old can subject that defendant to a mandatory 15-year minimum sentence. Last year, the Ninth Circuit considered this question and answered "no." See United States v. Jaycox, 962 F.3d 1066. But in the decision below, the Fourth Circuit answered "yes." See Pet.App.12a-14a. In doing so, the Fourth Circuit increased Petitioner Hardin's mandatory minimum sentence from 5 years to 15 years and doubled the statutory maximum he faces from 20 years to 40. The Court should resolve this clear circuit split, which could subject hundreds of persons per year to thousands more collective years in prison based solely on geographical happenstance. As the petition explains, the Fourth Circuit's decision misinterprets the [*5] relevant statutory term--18 U.S.C. § 2252A (b)(1)'s mandatory sentencing enhancement for prior convictions "relating to . . . abusive sexual conduct involving a minor"--and distorts this Court's settled method for applying the categorical approach to sentencing enhancements. The result is a decision holding conduct that is legal in 39 States and the District of Columbia to be categorically "abusive sexual conduct" under a federal law that subjects a defendant to a 15-year mandatory minimum.