Legal News & Updates

United States v. Alhindi, No. 23-11349 (Apr. 1, 2024)

In United States v. Alhindi, No. 23-11349 (Apr. 1, 2024) (Rosenbaum, Newsom, Luck) (per curiam), the Court affirmed the district court's rulings re: competency. This appeal raised two questions regarding how to apply 18 U.S.C. § 4241, which sets forth the procedures for determining a defendant's competency to stand trial and addressing any incompetency. First, the Court held that the statute permits a court to order more than one competency hearing and commitment order for the same defendant in a single case. Second, the Court held that the four-month period to which § 4241(d)(1) refers is the period during which the defendant receives treatment while he is hospitalized--meaning, it begins with the defendant's hospitalization.  The Court rejected Mr. Alhindi's argument that the period begins with the entry of the commitment order. The Court specifically reserved for another time (in footnote 4)--in a case where it is properly presented--the issue of whether the Due Process Clause limits the time the BOP has to hospitalize a defendant following a district court's order directing it to do so. Judge Rosenbaum concurred, writing separately to point out that the Court's holding that the four-month time limit in § 4241(d) applies to the hospitalization period does not mean [...]

April 8th, 2024|

United States v. Gray, No. 22-13516 (Feb. 29, 2024)

In United States v. Gray, No. 22-13516 (Feb. 29, 2024) (Wilson, Grant, Lagoa), the Court affirmed Mr. Gray’s conviction for conspiracy to commit a controlled-substance offense. The Court rejected Mr. Gray’s chief contention: that his conviction could not stand because the government failed to prove that he knowingly possessed—as the indictment alleged—either “a Schedule II controlled substance” or, more specifically, “50 grams or more of methamphetamine.” This argument, the Court held, was foreclosed by prior-panel precedent requiring only that the government prove general knowledge to obtain a controlled-substance conviction. That the indictment listed a specific substance simply specified an element of an enhanced penalty under 21 U.S.C. § 841(b). The Court also rejected argument concerning the district court’s denial, as untimely, of Mr. Gray’s Rule 29 motion for judgment of acquittal. It held that the denial, although erroneous, was harmless because this issue depended entirely on Mr. Gray’s knowledge argument—which the Court had rejected. 202213516.pdf (

April 3rd, 2024|

United States v. Tripodis, No. 22-12826 (Feb. 29, 2024)

In United States v. Tripodis, No. 22-12826 (Feb. 29, 2024) (Wilson, Grant, Lagoa), the Court upheld the supervised-release portion of the sentence for Mr. Tripodis’s general-conspiracy conviction under a negotiated plea agreement. Mr. Tripodis argued that the plea agreement did not contemplate the imposition of supervised release, and that the government and the district therefore breached the agreement by recommending supervised release and erred by ordering it, respectively. The Court rejected both arguments. It determined that the plea agreement’s scope was unambiguous: it required only that the government recommend a total custodial sentence of sixty months. In the absence of a supervised-release provision, the government was free to recommend supervised release. The Court alternatively determined that, even if the agreement was ambiguous, extrinsic evidence reflected Mr. Tripodis’s understanding that he could be subject to supervised release. This evidence included Mr. Tripodis’s and his counsel’s statements at the initial plea entry and sentencing, Mr. Tripodis’s affirmative response to the district court’s asking if he understood that the court could sentence him to a three-year term of supervised release, and counsel’s failure to dispute the government’s argument for supervised release at sentencing. Notably, the Court acknowledged that a defendant might be “unintentionally [...]

April 3rd, 2024|

United States v. Dubois, No. 22-10829 (Mar. 5, 2024)

In United States v. Dubois, No. 22-10829 (Mar. 5, 2024) (William Pryor, Rosenbaum, Abudu), the Court affirmed Mr. Dubois’s convictions and sentence for attempting to smuggle firearms out of the United States, delivering firearms to a common carrier for shipment without written notice, and possessing a firearm as a felon. The Court denied Mr. Dubois’s motion to stay pending the Supreme Court’s decisions in United States v. Rahimi, No. 22-915, and Jackson v. United States, No. 22-6640. It then rejected each of Mr. Dubois’s five claims: First, the Court held that its precedent foreclosed argument that the federal felon-in-possession statute violates the Second Amendment. It otherwise refused to accept that New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, 142 S. Ct. 2111 (2022), abrogated that precedent without “clearer instruction from the Supreme Court” -- particularly given that Bruen makes clear that its holding is in keeping with District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), and the Bruen majority mentioned neither felons nor the felon-in-possession statute. Second, and contrary to Mr. Dubois’s sufficiency-of-evidence argument, the Court held that the record contained ample circumstantial proof that Mr. Dubois knew his shipment contained firearms. Third, the Court rejected argument that [...]

March 12th, 2024|

United States v. Kent, No. 22-13068 (Feb. 26, 2024)

In United States v. Kent, No. 22-13068 (Feb. 26, 2024) (Wilson, Jill Pryor, Brasher), the Court affirmed Mr. Kent's conviction. Mr. Kent was charged with RICO conspiracy and five substantive crimes, including an attempted murder.  The government alleged that the gang Mr. Kent was allegedly a member of murdered a former gang member--Rhodes--for cooperating with the police's investigation into the attempted murder of another individual--Muhammad. Specifically, the government’s theory was that Mr. Kent and other alleged gang members believed that Rhodes told the police that Mr. Kent had attempted to murder Muhammad and, then, murdered Rhodes for that reason.  To support this theory, the government introduced an investigator’s testimony from a preliminary hearing in a related case, which identified Rhodes as cooperating with law enforcement to implicate Mr. Kent in the attempted murder of Muhammad.  By offering the testimony, the government sought to establish that other gang members present at the hearing learned of Rhodes’s apparent cooperation and murdered him because of it, i.e., the government offered the out-of-court statements for the effect they had on the listener. Mr. Kent challenged the admission of the above testimony, arguing it was hearsay and admitted in violation of the Confrontation Clause.  The Court disagreed, finding [...]

February 27th, 2024|

Rudolph v. United States, No. 21-12828 (Feb. 12, 2024)

In Rudolph v. United States, No. 21-12828 (Feb. 12, 2024) (Wilson, Grant, Brasher), the Court found Mr. Rudolph's attempts to collaterally attack his sentences barred by his plea agreement. In order to avoid the death penalty for setting off a series of bombs (some during the Olympics in Atlanta), Mr. Rudolph pleaded guilty to six federal arson charges and four counts of use of a destructive device during and in relation to a crime of violence.  As part of his plea deal, he waived his right to appeal his conviction and sentence, as well as his right to collaterally attack his sentence in any post-conviction proceeding, including under 18 U.S.C. § 2255.  His waiver specifically stated: "In consideration of the Government’s recommended disposition, the defendant voluntarily and expressly waives, to the maximum extent permitted by federal law, the right to appeal his conviction and sentence in this case, and the right to collaterally attack his sentence in any post-conviction proceeding, including motions brought under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 or 18 U.S.C. § 3771, on any ground." Post-Davis, however, Mr. Rudolph filed a § 2255 motion to vacate his § 924(c) convictions and sentences because his arson offenses no longer qualified as crimes of [...]

February 27th, 2024|
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