Cabrera-Rangel v. United States

Brief of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers as Amicus Curiae in Support of Petitioner (on petition for a writ of certiorari).

Brief filed: 12/01/2018


Cabrera-Rangel v. United States

United States Supreme Court; Case No. 18-650

Prior Decision

Decision below 730 Fed.Appx. 227 (5th Cir. July 9, 2018)


Neither Watts nor procedural obstacles hinder the Court’s consideration of petitioner’s Sixth Amendment claim. Petitioner’s case casts in stark relief the grave constitutional concerns that can arise from a judge’s use of acquitted conduct at sentencing. This case presents no procedural obstacles. The Fifth Circuit and other courts of appeals have rejected prior Sixth Amendment challenges in deference to Watts rather than on the merits. The lower courts’ deference to Watts conflicts with this Court’s Sixth Amendment jurisprudence. Several jurists (including Justices of this Court), practitioners, and scholars have written disapprovingly of the overextension of Watts. The broad language of 18 U.S.C. § 3661 and the Sentencing Guidelines notwithstanding, the Sixth Amendment forbids extending a sentence based on acquitted conduct.


Kayleigh Scalzo, Michael J. Fanelli, Matthew V. Miller, and Thomas Blackmon, Covington & Burling LLP, Washington, DC; Jeffrey T. Green, NACDL, Washington, DC.

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