News2017-12-18T21:16:38+00:00

Legal News & Updates

United States v. Whitman, No. 15-14846 (Apr. 24, 2018)

In United States v. Whitman, No. 15-14846 (Apr. 24, 2018) (William Pryor, Julie Carnes, Antoon), the Court upheld convictions and sentences for bribery, wire fraud, theft, and obstruction stemming the fraudulent procurement of government contracts. One defendant challenged his bribery conviction on the ground that the court erred by failing to instruct the jury that giving illegal gratuities was a lesser-included offense of bribery. The Court rejected that argument because the defendant advanced an exculpatory defense predicated on extortion that, if believed, would have required the jury to acquit him of both bribery and giving illegal gratuities. The evidence thus would not have permitted the jury to acquit him of bribery but convict of him giving illegal gratuities. As a result, the Court found it unnecessary to decide whether the latter was a lesser included offense of the former. Another defendant challenged his sentence on the ground that he was not responsible for the entire loss amount attributable to the criminal scheme. The Court rejected his argument that the actions of other government employees were taken independently and not the product of any criminal agreement. The record permitted the district court to infer that he agreed to participate in a [...]

April 30th, 2018|

United States v. Maxi, No. 15-13182

In United States v. Maxi, No. 15-13182 (Apr. 5, 2018) (Martin, Jordan, Walker), the Court affirmed the defendants' drug-trafficking convictions. As to one defendant, the Court affirmed the denial of his motion to suppress the search of a duplex.  The Court first concluded that the defendant had standing to challenge the search because, despite contradictory information and testimony, he paid rent, had a key, had been living there intermittently for three to six months, and kept some important papers there.  Because he was effectively a subtenant, not merely an overnight guest, he had a reasonable expectation of privacy.  The Court then accepted the defendant's argument that the police impermissibly entered the curtilage of the home, because they did so with the tactical purpose of securing the duplex and detaining anyone inside, which exceeded the implied license granted to the public and that of a knock and talk.  However, the Court concluded that the officer's unconstitutional violation pertained only to the manner of their approach, not the actual entry into the curtilage, and it did not result in the production of evidence that would not have otherwise been discovered had an officer conduct a permissible knock and talk. The [...]

April 5th, 2018|

United States v. Carroll, No. 16-16652

In United States v. Carroll, No. 16-16652 (Apr. 5, 2018) (Wilson, Dubina, Goldberg), the Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the defendant's child pornography convictions. First, the Court concluded that a warrant affidavit supported the conclusion that there was probable cause to believe that child pornography would be found in the defendant's home.  The affiant explained how peer to peer file sharing worked and how the officers used the program to identify the defendant's IP address.  The Court rejected the defendant's argument that the issuing magistrate was required to personally review the pornographic material.  The Court also rejected the defendant's argument that the warrant failed to satisfy the particularity requirement, because it detailed the types of electronic items to be seized in the home. Second, the Court found the evidence sufficient to uphold the defendant's possession conviction, because there was evidence that he knowingly possessed the images: although the files were discovered in an unallocated space on his computer and were deleted, there was evidence that he regularly and manually downloaded files to his computer over an 11-month period.  However, the Court concluded concluded that the evidence was insufficient to sustain the defendant's distribution conviction, because [...]

April 5th, 2018|

United States v. Harris, No. 16-17646

In United States v. Harris, No. 16-17646 (Jill Pryor, Hull, Proctor) (Apr. 2, 2018), the Court affirmed the defendant's witness tampering and obstruction convictions over four evidentiary challenges. First, the Court rejected the defendant's Rule 403 argument that it was unduly prejudicial for the government to introduce evidence of a murder for which she was never charged, because that evidence was highly probative of the obstruction charge and necessary to provide the jury with necessary context about it.  The Court also found that the admission of five gruesome and inflammatory photographs of the murder was probative and did not carry an impermissibly high risk of inflaming the jury. Second, the Court rejected challenges to the admission of hearsay evidence, because the statements were not offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted but rather to show its motivational effect on others.  The Court also rejected a Rule 403 challenge to that evidence because it had probative value to the obstruction charge and thus its unfair prejudice did not substantially outweigh its probative value. Third, the Court found that certain statements satisfied the co-conspirator exception to the hearsay rule in Rule 801(d)(2)(E).  The Court rejected the defendant's argument [...]

April 2nd, 2018|

United States v. Lee, No. 16-16590

In United States v. Lee, No. 16-16590 (Apr. 2, 2018) (Martin, Jordan, Ginsburg) (per curiam), the Court re-affirmed its many circuit precedents holding that Florida robbery -- of all varieties and all years of conviction -- satisfies the elements clause of the ACCA and Sentencing Guidelines.   The panel recognized that the defendant's contrary arguments "have some force," and it "might well agree with them" were it writing on a clean slate, citing Judge Martin's earlier concurrence in Seabrooks.  However, the Court was bound by its prior panel precedents, even if they were wrong, poorly reasoned, or failed to properly apply the law. Judge Jordan concurred, opining that the circuit's precedents were wrong, because robbery by "putting in fear" and robbery by "force" in Florida did not necessarily require the use, attempted use, or threatened use of violent force.  He concluded: " When we wrongly decided in Dowd, and then Lockley, that Florida robbery is categorically a violent felony under the elements clauses of the ACCA and the career offender provision of the Sentencing Guidelines, we dug ourselves a hole. We have since made that hole a trench by adhering to those decisions without analyzing Florida law. Hopefully [...]

April 2nd, 2018|

United States v. Green, No. 14-12830

In United States v. Green, No. 14-12830 (Sept. 29, 2017) (Julie Carnes, Jordan, Robreno), the Court revised its earlier panel opinion from December 2016 in light of the recent en banc decision in Vail-Bailon. Relying on Vail-Bailon, it held that the defendant's Florida felony battery conviction satisfied the elements clause.  The panel removed its earlier holding that the "touching or striking" component of Florida battery law was divisible, and that the defendant's offense involved a striking under the modified categorical approach. Recent News

September 29th, 2017|