Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

McCloud: Government did not prove three separate prior convictions for ACCA

In U.S. v. McCloud, No. 14-14547 (March 16, 2016), the Court found that the government did not prove that McCloud’s three prior armed robbery convictions were committed on separate occasions, and he therefore was not subject to a 15-year mandatory minimum sentence under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA). The Court concluded that although the charging documents reflected that there were three different victims, different items stolen, and three different case numbers, these pieces of information did not make it more likely than not that the crimes were committed successively rather than simultaneously. “On the face of the charging documents, it is plausible that all three victims were standing in the same location, and each simultaneously gave up the items of value in his pockets.” Moreover, “the individual case numbers themselves do not convey any information pertaining to the time or location of the offenses.” The Court also rejected the government’s argument that the incidents were separate because they involved different co-defendants. The Court noted that it was plausible that two offenses were committed simultaneously, or even that McCloud committed all three robberies simultaneously, “with varying amount of participation from his colleagues.” The Court also rejected the argument that the plea colloquy referred to one address, thus establishing that the other offenses were at other addresses. Finally, the Court rejected the government’s attempt to rely on the Presentence Investigation Report, pointing out that the defendant had objected to the specific paragraphs at issue. Once McCloud objected, the government had to present reliance and specific evidence in Shepard-approved documents to establish three separate incidents. It did not.