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FELON GETS EN BANC ELECTION LAW REHEARING NEW YORK — The entire active roster of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has agreed to rehear an April decision upholding a section of New York state’s election law that denies prisoners and paroled felons the right to vote. The court has voted to rehear en banc Muntaqim v. Coombe, 01-7260, in which a three-judge panel found that New York Election Law � 5-106 does not violate � 2 of the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965, 42 U.S.C. � 1973. Jalil Abdul Muntaqim, a black man incarcerated at Shawangunk Correctional Facility in Wallkill, N.Y., acknowledged that the law was not intentionally discriminatory. Instead, he argued that it had the practical effect of diluting black and Hispanic voter rolls because the racial disparity in New York’s prison population is driven, in part, by discriminatory sentencing practices. The issue has troubled the circuit for some time. In 1996, a 10-judge panel sitting en banc deadlocked on the same question in the case of Baker v. Pataki, 85 F.3d 919. This time, the issue came to the circuit from Northern District Judge Norman Mordue, who granted the state summary judgment on Muntaqim’s claim. In their decision last April, a Second Circuit panel of Judges Jose Cabranes, Thomas Meskill and Richard Cardamone concluded that the statute was constitutional. Writing for the panel, Judge Cabranes addressed the impact of 1982 amendments to the Voting Rights Act that were an attempt by Congress to strengthen the law by forbidding any voter qualification or standard that “results” in the denial of the right to vote “on account of race.” — New York Law Journal JUDGE ORDERS FUNDS RETURNED TO PAKISTANIS NEW YORK — A federal judge in Brooklyn has ruled that three men caught smuggling cash to Pakistan to help their families do not have to forfeit all the money under the “bulk cash” statute of the USA Patriot Act. In a ruling of first impression, Eastern District Judge Jack Weinstein held that civil forfeitures under the act are subject to review under the Excessive Fines Clause of the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It was the first Eighth Amendment challenge to the statute, which was enacted after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks to crack down on money sent to overseas terrorist operations. In a civil forfeiture proceeding against the men, federal prosecutors argued that all the money they proved was theirs — $96,000 — should be forfeited. In total, the men were caught with more than $515,000. Most of the money belonged to co-workers and friends and was not subject to the forfeiture proceeding. The government is evaluating claims from those workers in another proceeding before a magistrate judge. Prosecutors provided the judge with extensive data revealing that most instances of smuggling that involve more than $10,000 result in full forfeiture. But Judge Weinstein ruled that U.S. v. Khan, 03-CV-0278, was an exceptional case because the defendants, along with numerous co-workers and acquaintances who gave the defendants their savings, had earned the money legally through successful fried chicken restaurants owned by one of the men. The judge said they did not intend to support terrorism or drug trafficking. — New York Law Journal

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