In today's lone opinion, the CA2 clarified that the rule of lenity -- whereby statutory ambiguities are construed in favor of criminal defendants -- applies only to legal issues, not factual ones. Evelyn Gonzalez, convicted of drug crimes, argued that absent a jury determination about drug quantity, the rule of lenity should have required the court to use the lowest possible drug amount in calculating her guidelines sentence. Not so, said the Second Circuit:
Contrary to Gonzalez’s argument, the rule of lenity is not a catch-all maxim that resolves all disputes in the defendant’s favor –- a sort of juristical "tie goes to the runner." Rather, the rule is cabined to resolve ambiguous questions of law. So confining the rule comports with its historical underpinning: that individuals should not languish in prison unless the legislature has clearly articulated precisely what conduct constitutes a crime. (citations omitted).
The CA2 therefore approved of the district court's guidelines calculation, although it remanded pursuant to Crosby. (The court also affirmed the conviction over Gonzalez's challenge to certain jury instructions, but that part of the opinion wasn't particularly interesting).
Also, in a decision I forgot to cover from Friday, the CA2 affirmed the dismissal of a lawsuit brought by the families of firefighters who died on September 11 against Motorola; the plaintiffs claimed that Motorola knew that the radio equipment it sold to the City would not work in high-rise strucures like the World Trade Center. Although it's an interesting lawsuit, the legal issues aren't especially riveting, and are relatively sui generis (can something be relatively sui generis?), so I won't cover the details. (Virgilio v. City of New York).
UPDATE: Another decision, this one certifying a few questions to the New York Court of Appeals about choice of law and legal malpractice. (Foundation of the Shareholders' Committee Representing the Former Shareholders of Saybolt International v. Schreiber).