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Judges uphold finding that past burglaries were not single criminal episode

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed a defendant’s argument that his three previous convictions of burglary should be treated as a single criminal episode for purposes of the Armed Career Criminal Act.

James Elliott was arrested after police found a loaded gun on him, which is illegal because he has six previous felony convictions. He was indicted on a felon-in-possession charge and the government sought to enhance his sentence under the ACCA based on three burglary convictions. Elliott maintained that the burglaries – which took place over the course of five days – should be considered a single criminal episode and that a jury should decide whether the burglaries were committed on different occasions from one another.

The District Court rejected both of Elliott’s claims, pointing to Almendarez-Torres v. United States, 523 U.S. 224, 118 S. Ct. 1219 (1998), as to the court’s authority to make determinations regarding Elliott’s criminal history. Chief Judge Philip Simon also cited the 7th Circuit’s en banc decision in U.S. v. Hudspeth, 42 F.3d 1015, 1019-22 (7th Cir. 1994). In Hudspeth, there is a bright-line rule distinguishing simultaneous crimes from sequential ones. Simon sentenced Elliott to 180 months.

In United States of America v. James Elliott, 11-2766, the appellate judges affirmed the District Court, noting that the 7th Circuit and other courts have construed Almendarez-Torres to allow a District Court to make a finding for purposes of the ACCA as to whether a defendant committed three or more violent felonies or serious drug offenses on different occasions.

“The district court committed no error in finding that Elliott’s burglaries occurred on different occasions for purposes of the ACCA. The burglaries occurred on different days and involved different residences and victims. Under any plausible construction of the statute’s different-occasions language, the burglaries constituted distinct criminal episodes,” Judge Ilana Diamond Rovner wrote. “Reconsideration of the approach that this court adopted in Hudspeth would not lead to a different result on the facts of this case. To the extent that the statute produces results that are perceived as unjust, the problem is one for Congress to fix rather than this court.”

 

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  1. For many years this young man was "family" being my cousin's son. Then he decided to ignore my existence and that of my daughter who was very hurt by his actions after growing up admiring, Jason. Glad he is doing well, as for his opinion, if you care so much you wouldn't ignore the feelings of those who cared so much about you for years, Jason.

  2. Good riddance to this dangerous activist judge

  3. What is the one thing the Hoosier legal status quo hates more than a whistleblower? A lawyer whistleblower taking on the system man to man. That must never be rewarded, must always, always, always be punished, lest the whole rotten tree be felled.

  4. I want to post this to keep this tread alive and hope more of David's former clients might come forward. In my case, this coward of a man represented me from June 2014 for a couple of months before I fired him. I knew something was wrong when he blatantly lied about what he had advised me in my contentious and unfortunate divorce trial. His impact on the proceedings cast a very long shadow and continues to impact me after a lengthy 19 month divorce. I would join a class action suit.

  5. The dispute in LB Indiana regarding lake front property rights is typical of most beach communities along our Great Lakes. Simply put, communication to non owners when visiting the lakefront would be beneficial. The Great Lakes are designated navigational waters (including shorelines). The high-water mark signifies the area one is able to navigate. This means you can walk, run, skip, etc. along the shores. You can't however loiter, camp, sunbath in front of someones property. Informational signs may be helpful to owners and visitors. Our Great Lakes are a treasure that should be enjoyed by all. PS We should all be concerned that the Long Beach, Indiana community is on septic systems.

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