A U.S. Supreme Court ruling redefining how prior crimes can be used in federal court is leading to a new effort by some defense attorneys to have cases reconsidered, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. For example, the attorney for Aquinus Rogers, who pleaded guilty to attempted robbery of a bank when he was 17, argues that his client should not have been in the federal court in the first place. Charging a juvenile in federal court is rare but is happening more often in Milwaukee after the U.S. Attorney agreed to take such cases amid a spike in violent crime and robberies.
To be prosecuted in federal court, a juvenile must be at least 16, have been adjudicated delinquent for a violent felony earlier in life, and be facing a violent crime charge. In November, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a portion of the federal Armed Career Criminal Act that brought longer prison sentences for defendants convicted of earlier violent acts. Those earlier acts were considered under a so-called residual clause. The high court found the clause was unconstitutionally vague. Since the ruling, attorneys for defendants in the court system here and elsewhere have been seeking to have cases reconsidered.