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Category: Fifth Amendment

Second Circuit Rejects Novel Due Process Challenge to Rule Permitting Evidence of Prior Sexual Assaults

The Second Circuit joined its sister circuits and upheld the constitutionality Federal Rule of Evidence 413, which renders admissible propensity evidence about the defendant in sexual assault cases.  In United States v. Schaffer, 15-2516-cr (Walker, Cabranes, Berman[1]) the Circuit rejected as a matter of first impression the defendant’s argument that Rule 413 violates the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.  The Court also reviewed its jurisprudence on “custodial” interrogation in the course of affirming the admissibility of incriminating statements the defendant made to law enforcement agents prior to his arrest.


Indictment Charging Violation of 18 U.S.C. § 641 Should Allege Value of Stolen Property

In United States v. Lee, 14-548, the Second Circuit (Kearse, Cabranes, Chin) held that the value of stolen property is an element of a felony offense under 18 U.S.C. § 641 and that, therefore, a grand jury indictment charging the defendant for a felony offense under that statute should have alleged the value of the property.  Nevertheless, the Second Circuit concluded that the failure to do so in this case was harmless error and affirmed the defendant’s conviction.  This case—which seems to be straight out of the files of the newest prosecutor in the SDNY General Crimes Unit—considers some weighty legal issues in the context of a straightforward offense.


Court Clarifies Limitations of Fifth Amendment “Foregone Conclusion” Doctrine in Tax Enforcement Action

In United States of America, 26 U.S.C. Sections 7402(b) and 7604(a): Enforcement of Internal Revenue Service Summons v. Greenfield, 15-543 (August 1, 2016) (Calabresi, Lynch, Lohier), the Court addressed the “foregone conclusion” exception to the Fifth Amendment privilege in the context of an action to enforce an IRS summons for various documents relating to an audit for tax evasion.  The district court (Judge Hellerstein, SDNY) ordered the enforcement of the summons, and denied Greenfield’s motion to quash on Fifth Amendment self-incrimination grounds.  The Court vacated the enforcement order and remanded for further proceedings. 


Second Circuit Remands for Resentencing to Consider Post-Sentencing Rehabilitation

In United States v. White, 15-229-cr (Cabranes, Droney, Meyer by designation), the Second Circuit ordered a remand for resentencing via summary order, instructing the lower court to consider the defendant’s post-sentencing rehabilitation. Although the order is not precedential, it represents an important reminder that practitioners can raise new factual arguments at resentencing based on changes in the defendant’s circumstances since the time of the initial sentencing proceedings.


Second Circuit Reaffirms The Right of A Corporation To Impose Consequences On Employees Who Do Not Cooperate With Internal Investigations

In Gilman v. Marsh & McLennan Cos., No. 15-0603-cv (Kearse, Winter, Jacobs), the Second Circuit held that a corporation can fire an employee for cause if the employee refuses to participate in an internal investigation of the company’s possible criminal wrongdoing.  Masquerading as an employment dispute, the decision could have important consequences for how a corporation and its employees handle internal investigations when there is the potential for criminal prosecution.


Second Circuit Finds In Camera Sentencing Colloquy Conducted in Defendant’s Absence Violated Fifth Amendment Rights

In Morales v. United States, 15-243-cv (Pooler, Parker, Livingston), the Second Circuit granted habeas relief to petitioner Jorge Luis Morales on the grounds that it was ineffective assistance of counsel for his attorney not to raise a Fifth Amendment challenge to the lower court’s (Nevas, J.) decision to conduct in camera sentencing discussions outside of Morales’s presence.  Although the Circuit chose to decide this matter via non-precedential summary order, this represents the rare case where ineffective assistance of appellate counsel excused a habeas petitioner’s procedural default.