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Friday, April 19, 2024 | Back issues
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Judge Correctly Barred|Defense in Union Clash

MANHATTAN (CN) - The 2nd Circuit upheld the conviction and sentencing of a labor union worker who fought with the bricklayers union at a Niagara Falls construction site.

Steven Markle was convicted in 2006 of two counts of attempted Hobbs Act extortion for violence that results in obstructing commerce.

The 1998 fight escalated from a dispute between the two unions over exclusive rights to perform fine sweep work at the construction site for E.G. Sackett. Four bricklayers were hospitalized after the attack, and a federal grand jury indicted Markle and 14 other laborers from Local 91.

Markle was sentenced to two concurrent terms of 57 months in prison, followed by two concurrent terms of two years of supervised release, plus restitution of $20,000 to E.G. Sackett.

On appeal, Markle argued that the court denied his right to a fair trial by precluding a defense to Hobbs Act liability. In U.S. v. Enmons, the Supreme Court held that Hobbs Act liability does not extend to conduct in pursuit of "legitimate labor ends."

Chief Judge Rosemary Pooler wrote for the appellate court that the Enmons defense is limited to labor-management disputes and does not extend to inter-union violence.

"A violent attack on members of a competing union to gain the competing union's work is not a legitimate labor union objective," Pooler wrote.

Markle also argued that the lower court should not have imposing sentence enhancements of two levels for bodily injury and one level for monetary loss.

Markle argues that the injuries were not sufficiently significant and that E.G. Sackett actually saved money because the job finished three weeks ahead of schedule.

Pooler rejected both claims finding that hospitalization of four victims is not insignificant and that the schedule changes E.G. Sackett faced after the fight did cause damages.

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