In United States v. Lee, No. 16-16590 (Apr. 2, 2018) (Martin, Jordan, Ginsburg) (per curiam), the Court re-affirmed its many circuit precedents holding that Florida robbery — of all varieties and all years of conviction — satisfies the elements clause of the ACCA and Sentencing Guidelines.
The panel recognized that the defendant’s contrary arguments “have some force,” and it “might well agree with them” were it writing on a clean slate, citing Judge Martin’s earlier concurrence in Seabrooks. However, the Court was bound by its prior panel precedents, even if they were wrong, poorly reasoned, or failed to properly apply the law.
Judge Jordan concurred, opining that the circuit’s precedents were wrong, because robbery by “putting in fear” and robbery by “force” in Florida did not necessarily require the use, attempted use, or threatened use of violent force. He concluded: ” When we wrongly decided in Dowd, and then Lockley, that Florida robbery is categorically a violent felony under the elements clauses of the ACCA and the career offender provision of the Sentencing Guidelines, we dug ourselves a hole. We have since made that hole a trench by adhering to those decisions without analyzing Florida law. Hopefully one day we will take a fresh look at the issue.” He might just get his wish: the Supreme Court today granted review in Stokeling to decide this very question.