Defendant-appellant Jean Bernier, also known as Charles Watson, was arrested on July 30, 1990, in connection with the March 1990 robbery of a branch office of Seamen's Bank, and the May 1990 robbery of a branch office of Chase Manhattan Bank. An indictment for both robberies, filed on October 4, 1990, charged Bernier with two counts of bank robbery, see 18 U.S.C. § 2113; two counts of using a firearm during the commission of a crime of violence, see id. § 924(c); and three counts of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, see id. § 922(g). After a bench trial, Bernier was convicted of all counts on December 4, 1990. In addition to the sentences imposed for the other convictions, Judge Sweet imposed a five year sentence for one of the section 924(c) convictions, and an enhanced 20 year sentence for Bernier's other section 924(c) conviction. In total, Bernier was sentenced to imprisonment for a term of 35 years.
Bernier now challenges the imposition of the enhanced 20 year penalty. He argues that neither the language of section 924(c) nor the intent of Congress supports imposition of the enhanced sentence for the second of two simultaneous convictions under the statute. Bernier also suggests that the statute does not provide notice, consistent with due process, of such a sentencing scheme.
Bernier also contends that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel at trial, in violation of his Sixth Amendment rights, and that one of the counts in his indictment should have been dismissed with prejudice as brought in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 3161 (Speedy Trial Act). While the United States filed a notice of appeal challenging the district court's downward departure from the United States Sentencing Guidelines range for Bernier's non-section 924(c) convictions, the parties stipulated on October 1, 1991, to dismissal of the government's cross-appeal. We will address only Bernier's section 924(c) claim, which raises an issue of first impression in this Circuit, having considered Bernier's other contentions and found them to be without merit. For the reasons that follow, the judgment of the district court is affirmed.
Miner '56, Roger J., "US v. Bernier, 954 F. 2d 818 - Court of Appeals, 2nd Circuit 1992" (1992). Circuit Court Opinions. 348.