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

evelyn adams

After 2 years, sheriff's office seeks new leads in unsolved deadly home invasion

"The sheriff’s office is close to knowing exactly what occurred that night but needs your help," the sheriff's office said.

joseph heroff

Man charged in chase that ended with police fatally shooting suspect

The suspect who was shot has also been identified.

Royce Lewis

Twins' Royce Lewis tears his ACL, will undergo surgery

A huge blow for the former No. 1 draft pick.

Screen Shot 2021-01-22 at 9.08.16 PM

Police release cause of death for daughter of MN Supreme Court Justice and Allina CEO

Olivia Chutich died from a combination of excessive drinking and hypothermia.

science-museum-of-minnesota

Science Museum of Minnesota to reopen this weekend

The museum will be open on weekends with limited capacity and other safety precautions.

Keith Ellison

State officials push for shortened sentences for some elderly inmates

A bill introduced in the state Legislature would allow elderly inmates to apply for shortened sentences if they show evidence of rehabilitation.

Walz

Walz says state will soon announce next COVID vaccine priority groups

In a "short time," the governor expects to be able to give all Minnesotans an approximate date for when they'll be able to get the vaccine.

Screen Shot 2021-02-24 at 6.09.40 AM

Man killed, woman injured in St. Paul bar shooting

The pair were found just after 8 p.m. Tuesday.

thermostat

Historic cold in south could add 'up to $400' to Minnesotans' gas bills

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission has launched an investigation into the gas spike.

Related