Friday, July 10, 2009

No Escape

United States v. Mills, No. 07-0308-cr (2d Cir. June 26, 2009) (Kearse, Sack, Livingston, CJJ) (per curiam)

Gary Mills was convicted of violating 18 U.S.C. § 922(g), and received a 188-month sentence under the Armed Career Criminal Act, 18 U.S.C. § 924(e) (ACCA). But for ACCA, his statutory maximum would have been 120 months’ imprisonment.

On appeal he argued, and both the government and the court of appeals agreed, that under Chambers v. United States, 129 S.Ct. 687 (2009), his Connecticut conviction for first-degree escape was not a violent felony.

The Connecticut statute proscribes a variety of conduct, ranging from escape from a correctional institution (which probably is a crime of violence) to failing to return to a halfway house or from a furlough. Here, at the sentencing hearing, the evidence established that Mills had been released from prison to “transitional supervision.” He lived in a private residence, but was required to report regularly to a community enforcement officer. After he repeatedly failed to do so, and the officer could not locate him, Mills was charged with escape.

The government conceded that all it would ever be able to prove was that Mill’s “escape” was merely a failure to return or report. And, as the court agreed, after Chambers, a “failure to report or failure to return is not a violent felony under the ACCA.”

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