Tuesday, July 26, 2016

A defendant cannot make a collateral challenge of a state sentence by challenging the reasonableness of his federal sentence.

            Appellant Raymond Anthony Napolitan challenged his federal sentence arguing that it was unreasonable to run the federal sentence consecutive to an invalid state sentence.  Napolitan was sentenced under a Pennsylvania state law that increased the mandatory minimum for sexual and simple assault, if committed with a firearm.  Under state sentencing procedure, the judge had to determine by a preponderance of the evidence if the defendant possessed a firearm and used it to frighten the victim.   That sentencing procedure was later determined to be unconstitutional following the Supreme Court decision in Alleyne v. United States, 133 S. Ct. 2151 (2013), which requires that a fact that may increase a statutory minimum sentence be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

                In United States v. Napolitan, the Third Circuit held that an defendant cannot collaterally challenge a state court sentence as part of a federal sentencing challenge unless (1) he is raising a Gideon violation or (2) the applicable federal statute or sentencing guideline directly permits the collateral attack.  In reaching this decision the appellate court looked at the precedent established in Custis v. United States, 511 U.S. 485 (1994), where the Supreme Court held that a defendant cannot collaterally attack a state conviction through an appeal of a federal sentence.  The circuit court explained that it was illogical to allow a collateral attack on a state sentence via an appeal of a federal sentence, when similar collateral attacks on state convictions are prohibited.  Additionally, the Third Circuit noted that all other circuit courts to address this issue have reached the same conclusion, barring collateral attacks of a prior state sentence in a federal sentencing appeal, including the Second, Sixth and Ninth Circuits.  Finally, the appellate court reasoned that there were other ways for the appellant to challenge the state sentence including filing a habeas petition. 


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Defendants can be civilly liable for damages to victims even after criminal restitution ordered.

            While Doe v. Hesketh, et al., No. 15-1381 (July5, 2016), is a civil matter, it could impact many who have been convicted of child sex offenses.  Defendant Mancuso pleaded guilty to a manufacturing child pornography charge.  At sentencing, the judge ordered $200,000 to be placed into a trust as restitution for the victim.  The victim later filed a civil lawsuit against Mancuso (along with other defendants who were dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction) under 18 U.S.C. § 2255 – which provides a civil cause of action for minor victims of human trafficking, sexual assault and pornography offenses.  Victims can recover personal injury damages and the cost of the suit, including attorney fees.  Statutorily, damages are automatically deemed to be no less than $150,000.

            Third Circuit found that the criminal restitution order did not bar the later filing of the civil law suit under § 2255 and that collateral estoppel did not apply so that a new damages amount, higher than the $200,000 restitution, could be determined in the civil lawsuit.  There are statutory provisions allowing for criminal restitution to be reduced by the amount of civil recovery in order to prevent double recovery.   

Third Circuit Finds Defendant Was Not Seized Where He Briefly Paused and Raised Hands Before Fleeing

In United States v. Amos , ---F. 4th---, 2023 WL 8636910 (3d Cir. Dec. 14, 2023), the Third Circuit affirmed a district court's denial o...