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Category: Sentencing and Eighth Amendment

As Second Circuit Affirms Conviction for Failure to Register as a Sex Offender, Judge Calabresi Questions “Non-Punitive” Nature of Registration Statutes

In a per curiam opinion, United States v. Diaz, the Second Circuit (Calabresi, Chin, and Carney) held that the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (“SORNA”), 18 U.S.C. § 2250(a), does not permit a defendant to collaterally attack his or her predicate sex offender conviction in a subsequent proceeding.  Relying on its own precedent, the Court also concluded that SORNA’s registration and notification requirements are not punitive, and therefore do not violate the prohibitions against cruel and unusual punishment or double jeopardy found in the Eighth and Fifth Amendments.  Despite the panel’s agreement as to the result, Judge Calabresi’s concurring opinion emphasized that, while the Second Circuit’s and Supreme Court’s precedent compels this conclusion, he believes that precedent is incorrect.

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Circuit Rejects Argument That Mandatory Life Sentence Violates Eighth Amendment

In United States v. Sierra, the Second Circuit (Newman, Jacobs, Droney) wrote a short published decision that rejected the argument raised by several defendants that it violated the “cruel and unusual” provision of the Eighth Amendment to impose a mandatory life sentence in this case involving convictions for murder in aid of racketeering. 

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