United States v. Mills, Docket No. 07-0308-cr (2d Cir. June 26, 2009)
Mills challenged a district court's finding that he qualified for ACCA sentencing because of his prior Connecticut escape conviction. Specifically, Mills was released from Connecticut prison and placed in "transitional supervision," under which he was authorized to reside in a private residence. By statute, however, he remainder under the jurisdiction of the Connecticut Commissioner of Correction, and was required to satisfy conditions similar to those required of parolees, including reporting regularly to a community enforcement officer. Mills failed to appear as required after his initial report date. Thus, he was charged with escape.
Under Taylor v. United States, 495 U.S. 575 (1990) courts are required to take a "categorical approach" when determining whether an offense qualifies as a "violent felony" under the ACCA. But where a statute encompases crimes that would qualify both as violent felonies and crimes that would not -- like the Connecticut statute at issue here, which defined escape as both an affirmative escape from custody or a mere failure to return -- courts can make a limited inquire into which part of the statute the defendant was convicted of violating. So, when the Second Circuit combined its limited inquiry into Mills' conduct (he basically walked away) and the Supreme Court's decision in Chambers v. United States, 129 S.Ct. 687 (2009) (finding that a failure to report or failure to return is not a violent felony under the ACCA) . . . well, you can imagine what happened. Reversed and remanded for resentencing. Even the Government conceded the mistake.