Saturday, March 05, 2016

Last Antecedent v. Series Qualifier...and Jail

Lockhart was, in one sense, a case about grammar. At issue was a sloppily written federal law, a statute creating mandatory minimums for child pornographers. Under that statute, anybody caught possessing child pornography is subject to a 10-year mandatory minimum sentence if he has a prior state court conviction “relating to aggravated sexual abuse, sexual abuse, or abusive sexual conduct involving a minor or ward.” Lower courts split on a crucial question: Does the phrase “involving a minor or ward” apply to all three crimes, or does it just relate to an “abusive sexual conduct” conviction?

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