Section 924(c) Convictions Vacated

Deloyed Jones, Byron Jones, and Sidney Patternson were convicted of a series of racketeering, drug, and firearm offenses—including several under 18 U.S.C. 924(c)—in connection with their conduct as members of a New Orleans gang. The Supreme Court decided United States v. Davis, 139 S.Ct. 2319 (2019), while their appeals were pending. Davis held that the residual clause of Section 924(c) is unconstitutionally vague.

The Fifth Circuit vacated the challenged convictions and remanded the case for retrial. The court determined that the verdict forms for counts one and two did not require the jury to specify which predicate offenses it relied upon in convicting the defendants of the Section 924 offenses. The Court determined that this was not structural error, but plain error. It further determined that the record demonstrated a reasonable probability that the jury would not have convicted the defendants of the Section 924 offenses if the invalid crime of violence predicate was not included on the verdict form. It held that the defendants substantial rights were affected because of the significant sentences that the convictions had wrought: two additional life sentences various other sentences including thirty to fifty years of additional imprisonment.

Smythe PC