Supreme Court equal justice under law
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By Jessica Gresko, AP

The Supreme Court on Monday narrowed the reach of a federal law that strengthens penalties for career criminals found to illegally have a gun.

The high court was ruling in the case of a man a lower court classified as a career criminal after counting the man’s burglary of 10 different public storage units on a single evening as 10 separate offenses. The high court said unanimously Monday that was an error.

The man’s 10 burglary convictions should have been treated as one event rather than separate crimes when considering whether he qualified for a stiffened sentence under the federal Armed Career Criminal Act, the justices concluded.

Without the stronger sentence, the man’s recommended sentence would have been approximately two years, but he was instead sentenced to nearly 16.

“Convictions arising from a single criminal episode … can count only once under ACCA,” Justice Elena Kagan wrote.

The decision could result in reduced sentences for other people subject to stronger sentences under the law. According to a U.S. Sentencing Commission report, however, people classified as armed career criminals have recently made up less than one percent of those sentenced every year for federal offenses.

The Armed Career Criminal Act requires a 15-year mandatory minimum sentence for anyone found to have a gun after three or more previous convictions for violent felonies or serious drug offenses. The law says that each of the offenses must have been “committed on occasions different from one another.”

Kagan wrote that a single “occasion” can include distinct activities, citing the example of multiple events occurring on a couple’s wedding day.

“The occasion of a wedding, for example, often includes a ceremony, cocktail hour, dinner, and dancing. Those doings are proximate in time and place, and have a shared theme (celebrating the happy couple); their connections are, indeed, what makes them part of a single event. But they do not occur at the same moment,” she said. “The newlyweds would surely take offense if a guest organized a conga line in the middle of their vows. That is because an occasion may … encompass a number of non-simultaneous activities.”

The case before the justices involved William Dale Wooden. Wooden had a lengthy criminal history and was convicted in 2018 in Tennessee of being a felon in possession of a firearm. A judge concluded he should qualify for the Armed Career Criminal Act’s sentencing “enhancement.” That conclusion was based on a 2005 burglary conviction and the fact that he had pleaded guilty in 1997 to 10 counts of burglary for joining in the burglary of 10 units at a ministorage facility in Dalton, Georgia.

Wooden argued the burglaries should count as one conviction, but lower courts disagreed.

“We’re delighted the Supreme Court agrees that Mr. Wooden is not an armed career criminal and never should have been subject to a fifteen-year mandatory-minimum sentence,” Wooden’s attorney Allon Kedem wrote in an email.

Kedem said that the government had previously agreed that his recommended a sentence had he not qualified for a stronger sentence under the Armed Career Criminal Act was about two years and he has already served much more than that. Kedem said that “once he is resentenced, we expect him to be sent back home to his family.”

The Armed Career Criminal Act has been the subject of frequent litigation before the Supreme Court.

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    • In that instance, it provided a protection for a citizen of prosecutorial over-reach…

      • Right. Too bad the gov has been allowed to do Prosecutorial Overreach with our current “Sears Catalog thick” of “gun control” laws. And never forget the gov wants us all locked up under the current Biden Admin.

      • yep. When SCOTUS rules unanimously in favor of a defendant, maybe people shouldn’t immediately assume it’s a “win for the criminals.”

    • No. Not really. it’s a another win for We The People against our corrupt government. Always be careful what you wish for. YOU might just get it.
      Committing one crime doesn’t warrant trumping up the charges x 10. And the gov has been doing this kind of BS for many years on many different offenses. Often turning a misdemeanor into a more serious felony.

    • In the same place and yes generally has been the case unless the state does not allow concurrent sentencing.

      • “Just like Biden arranged all his crimes to occur after Jan. 20, 2021“

        We’re making progress, so you are admitting that Joe Biden had not committed any crimes in his career, at least up until he was inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2021.

        So what evidence do you have to substantiate your claim that he committed crimes after his inauguration?

  1. ‘Career’ criminal or not this man WAS a habitual criminal by his own admission So it’s perfectly OK for a HABITUL criminal to carry firearms. What a delusional world the American Gun freaks live in? We now turn to Ukraine where it is apparently easy to buy and possess firearms and yet until this Russian invasion very few citizens bothered.
    It would appear that PUTIn has now offered terms in that Russia only requires recognition of Crimea, Luhansk and Donetsk as Independent States and Ukraaine declares Neutrality and ‘non-alignment’. To me this can only mean that Russia is taken a hiding and the body bags are mounting up to the point where they can no longer be hidden from the supine Russian public. The fact that Ukraine has refused must mean that they are pretty confident. Meanwhile the question remains as to who is going to pay for the damage ? It has been said that Russia has accumulated a some $US 600Billion slush fund in ‘foreign exchange’. The problem there is that DOLLAR SIGN and that most of those reserves are held in Banks outside of Russia. Under international law those foreign held assets CAN BE seized in reperations.
    Much has been said that this is NOT a war of the ORDINARY Russian People.
    WRONG, WRONG,WRONG. It is ORDINARY RUSSIAN PEOPLE in the Russia Forces, not PUTIN, that are pulling the triggers, firing the missiles, flying the aircraft and bringing down ruination on civilians and it is they that must pay until they learn not to place their trust in yet another series of of institutionalised corrupt kleptomanic DICTATORSHIPS.
    And yet the Great American Public were on the brink of doing EXACTLT the saame by electing DONALD TRUMP.

    • “ electing DONALD TRUMP..”

      And really none of your business what the US does internally. Apparently, 81 million voted for a senile, old Washington fool who says he beat someone up named cornpop and I don’t hear you saying jack about that.

    • Ya sounded smart and well thought out until that last line.

      Then ya ‘jumped the shark’ right into stupid country

      maybe next time keep the BS in your BS filled head, instead of writing it down for others to see and removing all doubt that you’re a moron

  2. Yes, so burning down fourteen places of business 20 months ago only counts as one act of mostly peaceful protests… got it.

    • Doesn’t apply here ; none of the peace-loving “protesters” were charged with anything, and only far-right protagonists had firearms, remember ? // S.

    • And beating ten cops over the head with lead pipes and breaking into ten Congressmen’s offices on January 6th only counts as one act of “legitimate political discourse,” got it. Legal advice: if you ever get arrested for marijuana possession, just plead guilty to the lesser offenses of trying to overthrow American democracy, high treason, and beating up cops. You’ll just get probation or 30 days in a minimum-security country club.

      • Not quite certain how to interpret your username, considering you have a U.S. Army MOS graphic as your avatar. Could go either way.

        Are you saying the Jan 6 event was treasonous because of the Capitol Hill Democrats’ exploitation of it, or that the Trump supporters committed an act of insurrection?

        • If your were a man of your word you’d have been there and could answer that question yourself. But a mild case of the WUHAN sniffles forced you to sit out 🤣.

        • You’ve never answered that question yourself, where were you?

          Not concerned with establishing any credibility?

        • Lol, what? Sober up and try again. Or don’t. Either way 🖕🤡!

    • The January 6th insurrection was a blatant, coordinated attempt by Trump supporters to halt the vote verification process presided over by the Vice-President. In effect, the howling mob was demanding a halt to the Constitutionally authorized democratic process and for the illegal installation of Trump as President. A riotous disorganized mob wasn’t randomly stealing TV sets here; instead, this mob of Trump’s political supporters were determined to steal democracy itself.

        • “Dozens more US Capitol Police officers were injured on January 6 than previously known, report says

          By Whitney Wild
          6:56 PM EST, Mon March 7, 2022

          Video Ad Feedback
          02:16 – Source: CNN
          Officers who faced off with rioters on what needs to change in Capitol security
          CNN —
          Roughly 114 US Capitol Police officers reported injuries as a result of the attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021, a government watchdog said in a new report Monday, well above the previously widely reported estimate of around 80 injured officers.

          The Government Accountability Office surveyed Capitol Police officers who responded to the riot. The report says of roughly 1,782 officers employed by the Capitol Police between June and September 2021, around 315 responded – the largest response group of any investigation thus far into the department. For example, the Capitol Police inspector general reported reaching out to around 86 officers, with only 36 responding.

          According to authorities, about 140 police officers were injured when they were trampled, had objects thrown at them, and sprayed with chemical irritants during the insurrection.
          The report also notes 150 Capitol Police officers reported using force 293 times during the day. Some officers who responded told the GAO they had hesitated to use force because they worried the department wouldn’t support their decision, and that a perceived concern about optics by members of Congress influenced decision making.“

        • Hey, Minor! Bullshit! I do not believe you. If true, that would be front page news on every network in the world. And it is not. Ergo, I think you are a liar.

      • A few hundred disorganized, unarmed ‘rioters’ were going to overthrow a country that has survived world wars?

        miner. You must cower in fear at the least disruption to your day to believe that.

        Or, what’s likely the truth, is you don’t believe that but you are supporting the fascist in chief in the oval office.

      • They are termed rioters now. No one is being prosecuted for insurrection AFAIK.
        Good luck getting a conviction for insurrection, therefor It’s just blah, blah from the left/progressives.

        • “Oath Keeper is 1st to plead guilty to seditious conspiracy for Jan. 6, will cooperate with prosecutors
          The seditious conspiracy charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years.
          ByQuinn Owen,Alexander Mallin andLuke Barr
          March 2, 2022, 9:17 PM”

        • “Reffitt is facing a five-count indictment that charges him with bringing guns to DC to support a “civil disorder,” obstructing an official proceeding or aiding and abetting, being in a restricted area with a handgun, interfering with police during a civil disorder that affects interstate commerce, and threatening his children to not cooperate with the FBI.“

      • “determined to steal democracy itself.”

        Steal??? With what? 1000 ‘TRUMP’ flags and one buffalo hat?
        thre only armed people there were cops and they killed one woman with a gun and bashed another woman’s brains out

  3. That is interesting. If the units were rented by different people, it seems that they could be considered different crimes. The contract I signed with the storage company stated I was responsible if illegal objects were found or stored in my locker. Just as my homeowner policy states the storage locker has insurance up to $10,000 as an extension of my home. So, this decision seems odd to me, it is almost like he broke into 10 different apartments in the same building on the same night. It almost sounds like another soft on crime stance by our judicial system. Then again, the DOJ has known about Hunter Biden’s laptop and the things therein for at least two years now and all we got over that is crickets. chirp, chirp, chirp.

    • breaking into 10 apartments might be bad but it’s ALSO not what this law was meant to deal with. This is a law that is geared towards “career” criminals. Deciding that committing more than one crime in one day should count as a ‘career’ could have significant ramifications and is not in the spirit or letter of the law.

      Do not be so quick to let prosecutors hit people with whatever penalties they want, even when they should not apply.

  4. This is a pretty limited ruling and not a bad one (hence the unanimous court).

    This case smells like prosecutorial overreach to try and get a plea bargain. It’s not what the law was meant for.

  5. Eh, if the Criminal offense was to Different people, Then it should be separate charges. so what if it was at one address? so if he shot 10 people he would be charged with one count? makes no sense.

    • He was previously convicted on multiple burglary charges. That does not change. He still had to face whatever penalties were applicable for those charges.

      The problem is that he was LATER charged with a different crime and hit with a massive increased penalty for “career criminals.” The nature of this law is to further punish criminals who basically spend their lives victimizing others. You have to have been convicted of numerous crimes that are separate from one another. Several crimes as part of the same incident are not supposed to count but the lower court hit him with the enhanced penalty as if they did.

      SCOTUS reversed unanimously because this it pretty no-brainer. It’s against the spirit AND the letter of the law as passed. This ruling is no big deal.

  6. It’s almost like that silly cell phone service provider commercial where a goofy consumer says, “It’s like getting four scoops of ice cream for the price of one.”

  7. Bad cases make bad law. This was a bad case for any proponents of the Career Criminal Act. Eventually, this opinion will come back to haunt us, or SCOTUS will have to tap dance around it.

    Which is nothing we haven’t seen before.

  8. Long thought multiple related crimes in limited time was long settled as counting as one event. Probably because when I lived in Texas, legislation had been enacted declaring such. It was long ago, and I presumed it was nationwide at the state level.

    Regardless, in this instance, not sure how a one nite “spree” qualifies as “career”. But, law is about law, not truth or justice.

    • Hi Sam, left another reply to your reply replying to my reply replying to your other reply under the Canadian article (don’t know if you get notifications). Cheers.

  9. Then maybe officer Chauvin or so called jogger shooters should only get one count of murder instead of four murder counts (for killing one man). ..just sayin

  10. We really over complicate the justice system in this country.
    There’s basically 3 types of criminals:
    1. Good people who make Bad choices or fall in with a bad crowd. Can be reformed with proper application of justice and mercy.
    2. Career criminals. Scumbags who spent years in and out jail. Mostly burglars, drug dealers, insurance/welfare/retail fraud, scammers, etc. Not usually violent, but have no problem victimizing people and no respect for the law: not much you can do about them other than harshly punishing their crimes to at least give them the fear of being punished.
    3. Evil bastards.
    Murderers, rapists, armed robbers, kidnappers, etc. No consciences, will almost always reoffend if given the chance. Solution: There’s a variety, but I’m partial to a short drop and a sudden stop.

    • “Solution: There’s a variety, but I’m partial to a short drop and a sudden stop“

      Before we let you start stretching peoples necks, can you share with us just exactly how you’ll differentiate between your three different varieties, Solomon?

  11. I’m happy about this. No excuses for the feds to run away this this.

    I had to go look this up in to find out how the balance of the court ruled. They had this interesting statement:
    “The decision was unanimous, though four justices — Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and Amy Coney Barrett — declined to join all of Kagan’s opinion, meaning they disagreed with some of her reasoning.”

  12. “Kedem said that “once he is resentenced, we expect him to be sent back home to his family.””

    Then he will sue the taxpayer. Then resume his life of crime.

  13. Here’s the way I see it.
    I rob 9 liquor stores one night and if I get caught robbing #10 I can only be charged with burglary, if I rob ten liquor stores and get caught all ten times then I’m charged with ten counts of burglary.
    Career Criminal, your charged with burglary twice, do your time, get out, and three days later your locked up again for the same thing. Your a career criminal.
    Once again I relate to the story of an early parolee and what would benefit you upon release, a job and a residence were the main priorities. One of the inmates proudly proclaimed he too had a job upon release, asking what that job may be, his reply ” Stealing cars.”
    That is a career criminal.

    • “I rob 9 liquor stores one night and if I get caught robbing #10 I can only be charged with burglary,…”

      Just how many cases of hootch can you stash in that burrow of yours, anyways? 🙂

  14. The feds need to have a major Reformation on how they sentence people. In federal court they do not tell you what you’re charged with, they simply ask you whether or not you’re going to accept responsibility or if you’re going to go to trial. If you you say you want to go to trial they automatically add three points to your sentencing guidelines which can add many years to the time you spent behind bars simply for demanding your constitutionally-protected right to a trial. If you accept responsibility that means you plead guilty and then they will hand your case off to a probation officer to perform a presentence investigation and what that probation officer finds in their pre-sentence investigation report is what you get charged with and it determines your criminal history for the purpose of sentencing. You have to get special permission to withdraw your guilty plea and the probation officer’s presentence investigation finding a facts cannot be disputed or appealed. They love to double, triple, quadruple count anything and everything to rack up the tab so to speak. It is an incredibly corrupt system that is designed to circumvent any protections a defendant might have in a courtroom. The federal system is so arduous for defendants that they simply grind you down in the system and even if you’re completely innocent you’ve already lost because of the boundaries they put on your defense prior to ever setting foot in the courtroom. There are no Fair trials at a federal level and there never will be.

    • “In federal court they do not tell you what you’re charged with“

      You people are out of your minds, and just spouting total nonsense to support your position.

      • Go talk to a few defendants in federal court. If you ever get caught up in the federal system they will have an indictment or two that they tell you about but it usually doesn’t correlate well to what your PSI says and the probation officer can put anything and everything that they can think up in your PSI. I’ve been a witness in federal trials more times than I can count and I’m intimately familiar with the system, my brother is also a u.s. marshal and we talk at length about how corrupt the federal courts are. The corruption I observed was my primary reason for getting out of law enforcement in the first place.

    • Of course if all ten units were rented by the same person/persons it could be argued for it being a single crime.

      • Unless each storage unit is in a separate facility it’s all one crime. In Texas it would be considered burglary of a building no matter how many units you broke into if they were all located in the same facility. Think of multiple bedrooms in the same house oh, no matter how many bedrooms you steal from it’s only going to be one burglary of a habitation under Texas law. By the way, Texas law takes burglary of a habitation very seriously and it carries a sentence of 20 to 99 years. Burglary of a building on the other hand only carries a maximum of five years probation or up to two years in state jail if you manage to screw up your probation whichever one somehow manages to do. Anyone breaking into storage units is really too stupid to try to make a living as a criminal.

  15. Use of a gun in a criminal offense should get you a .357 lead vitamin to the temple. Save tax dollars and jail space

  16. I’d say he qualifies as a career criminal. “A lengthy criminal record” and has been convicted of felonies 21 years apart. One could infer that he has been working at his trade for 20+ years and should be retired by a lifetime of free meals and a warm place to lay down at night. The cost of keeping him locked up for the rest of his days is cheap compared to the cost of his continued criminal depredations. In addition to which, he was a felon in possession of a firearm. The federal sentence for that crime is an 8 year bottom. That mean must serve eight years before consideration for parole. In some cases it is a 10 year bottom. I don’t know what makes the difference. So getting off with a two year sentence shouldn’t have happened except he was being tried in state court. I don’t know if that particular state has a mandatory sentence for felon in possession of a firearm but I suspect it probably does. Sounds like the Federale Supremes have screwed up again. A wedding is not exactly the same as a commercial burglary. At least most of the weddings I ever attended. I realize that in some social circles a wedding isn’t really complete until there is a stabbing or gunshots fired but fortunately, I have never been invited to one of those weddings.

    • Another example of how sloppy is our language. The term “career criminal” is generally accepted as being closely associated with “life of crime”. That is, several crimes over several years, or maybe even several convictions over several years. The common understanding of “career criminal” is not two crimes, with twenty years between.

      I understand prosecutors would use the “career criminal” tag as a means to influence a jury, and enhance sentencing. Not because the term proves any element of the case, but because conviction rates are like batting averages, or annual sales percentages.

      • Some how you seem to have missed the “lengthy criminal record” part that I referenced. The reason the rest of the “lengthy criminal record” wasn’t under discussion is that somehow it didn’t enter into the decision on the latest crime but certainly should have been considered in deciding whether he was a career criminal or not. To me “lengthy criminal record.” which is is vague and non-specific for the people reporting on this matter it would have been a simple matter to go the the probation report or the arrest and conviction record of the individual under discussion and count the number of felony convictions he has amassed.

        You also conveniently overlook the “felon in possession of a firearm” charge and without going back and re-reading the original article, the “felon in possession” seems to be an admitted fact. The alone should net him an 8 year bottom sentence instead of two years which means out in 14 month or less or in this case, immediate release.

        • “Some how you seem to have missed the “lengthy criminal record” part that I referenced. ”

          Went to a lawyer discussion about the SC decision, and a theory of judicial review. The storage facility break-in, and the arrest by local police for “felon in possession” were discussed, but nothing in-between. The state dismissed the “felon in possession” charge because the arresting cop had no probable cause to enter the residence, and find guns. However, the feds used the unauthorized search and discovery of firearms as sufficient for federal charges. None of the discussion I read/heard/saw on the lawyers venues referenced intervening crimes. Thus, the conclusion made that there was the break-in and the firearm discovery to establish “career criminal” status.


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