The Supreme Court yesterday struck down two lower court opinions that had favored prosecutors, reports Legal Times. Ohio State law Prof. Doug Berman of the Sentencing Law and Policy blog said the cases offer further proof that the high court is the “most pro-defendant appellate court in the nation on sentencing issues.” In one case, justices agreed unanimously that a conviction on the charge of “failure to report” to prison is not the kind of prior “violent felony” conviction that triggers a 15-year mandatory prison sentence for someone found guilty of illegal possession of a firearm.
“Conceptually speaking, the crime amounts to a form of inaction, a far cry from the purposeful, violent and aggressive conduct” associated with violent crimes under the Armed Career Criminal Act, Justice Stephen Breyer wrote. The other decision was a Texas case authored by Justice Clarence Thomas for a unanimous court. The justices said that because Texas allows defendants to file untimely appeals of state convictions, the clock for the one-year deadline for filing a federal habeas corpus appeal under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act should not start ticking until after that out-of-time appeal is completed.