July 27, 2011
On June 9, 2011, the Supreme Court announced its decision in Sykes v. United States. If an armed defendant has three prior "violent felony" convictions, the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA) provides that that defendant, if convicted, would face a fifteen-year mandatory minimum prison term. The petitioner in this case contested whether his class D Indiana felony of fleeing in a vehicle from a police officer counts as a violent felony for the purposes of this ACCA provision.
In an opinion delivered by Justice Kennedy, the Court held by a vote of 6-3 that the petitioner's Indiana vehicle flight conviction is a violent felony for the purposes of the ACCA. Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Breyer, Alito, and Sotomayor joined Justice Kennedy’s opinion. Justice Thomas filed an opinion concurring in the judgment. Justice Scalia filed a dissenting opinion. Justice Kagan filed a dissenting opinion, which Justice Ginsburg joined.
To discuss the case, we have Brian J. Paul, who is a partner at Ice Miller LLP.