Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Bank Failure

United States v. Carlton, No. 07-2344-cr (2d Cir. July 16, 2008) (Winter, Miner, Cabranes, CJJ)

In June of 2004, after a hearing, Judge Robinson found that Carlton, who was on supervised release for a bank robbery, had committed another one. He sentenced Carlton to 30 months’ imprisonment. About a year later, the government indicted Carlton for that same robbery and the case was randomly assigned to Judge Robinson. Carlton asked the judge to recuse himself, but he refused. A jury convicted Carlton, and the judge sentenced him to 600 months’ imprisonment.

On appeal, he argued that it was error for the judge not to recuse himself, but the circuit disagreed. Nothing that the judge said or did at the supervised release revocation would cause his “impartiality reasonably to be questioned.” Moreover, the judge did not have “personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary facts concerning the proceeding.” Judge Robinson’s knowledge did not come from an extrajudicial source; it came only from the revocation hearing. Knowledge acquired from judicial duties does not constitute grounds for disqualification.

The court also rejected Carlton's claims that there was a double jeopardy violation, and that his prior bank robberies should not have been admitted under Rule 404(b). Taken together, the similarities among the robberies established the existence of a pattern.


The big mystery here is why there is no discussion of the 50-year sentence. Was it challenged on appeal at all? Strange.



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