NACDL - Bell v. United States

Bell v. United States

Brief of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers as Amicus Curiae in Support of Petitioner (on Petition for Writ of Certiorari).

Brief filed: 05/11/2016

Documents

Bell v. United States

United States Supreme Court; Case No. 15-8606

Prior Decision

Decision below United States v. Bell, 795 F.3d 88 (D.C.Cir. July 28, 2015).

Argument

This case presents an ideal vehicle for the Court to address under the Sixth Amendment the use of acquitted conduct from the same trial to increase a defendant's sentencing guidelines range. In order to preserve the essential role of the jury, a defendant's sentencing guidelines calculation should not include conduct of which he was acquitted at the same trial. Increasing a defendant's sentencing guidelines range by use of acquitted conduct violates the Sixth Amendment. Circuit precedent extending Watts to allow the use of conduct of which the defendant was acquitted at the same trial to calculate a defendant's range should be abrogated.

Author(s)

Timothy Shannon and John W. Van Lonkhuyzen, Verrill Dana, LLP, Portland, ME; Jonathan D. Hacker, Washington, DC.