• The Washington Times

Evolving Definition of 'Violent Felony' Sparks Wave of Petitions, Deportation Questions


Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch, appointed by President Donald Trump, sits with fellow Supreme Court justices for a group portrait at the Supreme Court Building in Washington, Friday, Nov. 30, 2018.

"...The ruling in Johnson v. United States sparked a wave of claims from prisoners who say but for a borderline crime of violence, they would be serving much shorter sentences.

'There is a lot of these cases partly because people in jail have a lot of free time,' said Curt Levey, president of the Committee for Justice.

For convicts who are immigrants, it could be the difference between freedom in the U.S. and deportation, thanks to a 2018 ruling that mirrors the Johnson case but came in immigration law. Justice Neil M. Gorsuch joined the high court’s Democratic appointees in a 5-4 ruling saying the deportation statute’s reference to violent crimes was too vague to be good law...

...'Because the record makes ‘perfectly clear’ that petitioner ‘was convicted of battery on a law enforcement officer by striking, which involves the use of physical force against the person of another,’ I would count the conviction as a ‘violent felony,’' Justice Alito wrote.

He dissented in the 2015 Johnson case, too.

Mr. Levey said that may have carried over to his dissent in the Santos case.

'Alito is, after all, a former prosecutor,' Mr. Levey said.

Justices Alito and Thomas prevailed in the case — another from Florida — involving Stokeling, the necklace snatcher. In an opinion joined by Justices Gorsuch, Brett M. Kavanaugh and Stephen G. Breyer, they ruled that a conviction under Florida’s robbery law requires 'the use of force, violence, assault or putting in fear.'..."

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