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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Logan: Civil Rights Never Lost are not "Restored"

In Logan v. U.S., No. 06-6911 (Dec. 4, 2007), the Supreme Court held that the ACCA provision which instructs sentencing courts to disregard a prior conviction if a defendant’s civil rights have been "restored" does not apply if, under the state law governing the prior conviction, the defendant retained his civil rights at all times.
The Court noted that the word "restored" describes a measure by which the government relieves an offender of some of the consequences of his conviction.
The Court acknowledged Logan’s argument that a literal reading of the statute would produce the "anomalous" result that those who never lost their civil rights could later be sentenced more harshly than those who did. The Court pointed out, however, that Logan’s reading of the statute would create its own anomalies, for example, dangerous recidivists who never lost their civil rights would be treated more leniently than less dangerous offenders who did. The Court noted that the anomalies resulted from the statute, which looked to the differing laws and policies of the several states. Logan’s reading would also undercut the statute’s express intent to include misdemeanor offenders within its potential scope. Finally, the Court pointed to a more recent Congressional statute which clarified the point, and cast doubt on Logan’s reading.