Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Brown: Hobbs Act Conspiracy Is Not a Crime of Violence

In Brown v. United States, No. 17-13993 (Nov. 12, 2019) (Martin, Rosenbaum, Jill Pryor) (per curiam), the Court granted the parties' joint motion for summary reversal of the denial of a 2255 motion challenging a 924(c) conviction.

First, the Court determined that Brown's 924(c) conviction was predicated solely on Hobbs Act conspiracy.   Although the indictment referenced both Hobbs Act conspiracy and two drug trafficking crimes, and the factual proffer included facts about the drug crimes, the plea agreement and plea colloquy showed that Brown's 924(c) conviction was based solely on the Hobbs Act conspiracy.  Those facts distinguished this case from In re Navarro, where the plea agreement referred to both Hobbs Act conspiracy and drug-trafficking crimes.

Second, and joining other circuits, the Court held that Hobbs Act conspiracy was not a crime of violence under the elements clause in 924(c)(3)(A).  The Court explained that neither an agreement to commit a crime nor knowledge of the conspiratorial goal necessarily requires the use, attempted use, or threatened use of force.  And a defendant's voluntary participation in the conspiracy can manifest itself in countless non-violent ways.