Skip to main content

Supreme Court reduces Minnesota white supremacist's firearms sentence

  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

On a day that will be better remembered for another ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court also sided with a Minnesota man who challenged the strict criminal sentence he received under a law known as the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA).

In an 8-1 decision, the justices agreed with lawyers for Samuel Johnson of Austin by ruling a sentencing provision in the ACCA is so broad it violates the Constitutional right to due process under law.

In 2012, Johnson pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Reuters explains that under the ACCA a conviction for firearms possession brings a sentence of at least 15 years if the defendant has three previous convictions for crimes that are violent felonies or show "conduct that presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another."

Justice Antonin Scalia wrote Friday that court interpretations of that phrase have been "anything but evenhanded, predictable, and consistent."

Samuel Johnson's case

As USA Today reports, Johnson had been under FBI scrutiny for having joined and started white supremacist groups.

He'd allegedly told undercover agents of planned attacks on targets including the Mexican consulate in St. Paul.

Following his guilty plea in 2012, Johnson was sentenced under the ACCA because he had two previous convictions for robbery and one for possessing a sawed-off shotgun, USA Today says. His lawyers argued that should not be considered a violent felony.

The Star Tribune reported last year that U.S. Judge Richard Kyle said during Johnson's sentencing hearing that he thought 15 years was too much, but was compelled by the law to hand down that minimum sentence.

Friday's Supreme Court ruling means Johnson will be sentenced again, this time to no more than 10 years.

The high court's ruling could also lead to shorter sentences for other inmates serving time under the Armed Career Criminal Act.

Next Up

Screen Shot 2022-11-30 at 4.04.09 PM

Armed robbery suspect sought in two south metro investigations

The incidents took place at credit unions in Savage and Apple Valley.

image

Former Twin Cities plastic surgeon charged with sex crimes

Christopher Kovanda is accused of inappropriately touching woman under the guise of providing medical care.

Screen Shot 2022-11-15 at 4.23.26 PM

Minnesota man accused of murder in Chicago is arrested in Alabama

A 26-year-old man from a small town on the Iowa border is accused of murdering a Greyhound bus employee.

DougKeddieShakopeeSchools

Support for Shakopee Public Schools employee diagnosed with cancer

The media specialist has been transitioned to hospice care recently.

snow

Big November snowstorms uncommon in MN, but snowfall is increasing

This week's 8.4 inches at MSP Airport was one of the biggest November storms in the Twin Cities since 1991.

MNASecondStrike

Minnesota nurses take vote on whether to hold second strike

The results will be determined Wednesday night.

unsplash medical marijuana

OCD, irritable bowel syndrome added to MN's medical marijuana list

They are the two latest qualifying medical conditions for Minnesota's marijuana program.

Screen Shot 2022-11-30 at 9.27.45 AM

Fundraiser created for family-owned Cô Tu' Oriental Cuisine after shooting

Support from the community will go towards medical expenses and overhead costs for the restaurant.

Erica Shameka Roberts

Police: Minnesota murder suspect arrested in Texas

Erica Roberts has been on the run since March.

JackknifedSemisI35

Jackknifed semis close I-35 northbound near Faribault

There are icy conditions across Minnesota

court room

Red Lake man gets 12 years for murder of his cousin

Charges state the man beat the victim with a metal cabinet and its drawers.

Related