In The Legal Loop

Marc E. Leibman Esq.

USA vs. Samuel James Johnson

On June 26, 2015, the United States Supreme Court took an arrow from the quiver of United States Attorney and invalidated, as unconstitutionally vague, language from the armed career criminal statute found at 18 U.S.C. §924(e)(2)(B).

Samuel Johnson received a sentence of 15 years in Federal prison, instead of 10 years, because of his prior conviction for simple possession of a sawed off shotgun.

The United States Attorney argued, and the District Court agreed, that that simple possession of a weapon constituted a “violent offense” under the following language.

“otherwise involves conduct that presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another”

This language has caused trouble at the Supreme Court since at least 2007 as it has considered cases involving DWI, attempted burglary, failure to report to jail and vehicular flight and whether or not they are or are not these are “violent felonies”.

Hopefully with this ruling District Courts will be provided with greater guidance and will impose these enhancements (on top of what are already draconian sentences) with greater restraint.

Read the SCOTUS decision

Reporting from the New York Times

Kaufman, Semeraro and Leibman, LLP