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

Legal News & Updates

Sessions v. Dimaya (April 17, 2018)

Relying on Johnson, the court, in an opinion by Justice Elena Kagan, joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and, in large part, Neil Gorsuch, affirmed the 9th Circuit’s ruling that Section 16(b) is unconstitutionally vague. The court began by noting that to determine whether a person’s conduct falls within the ambit of Section 16(b), “courts use a distinctive form of what we have called the categorical approach.” Rather than assessing whether the particular facts of someone’s conduct pose the substantial risk required under the statute, courts consider the overall nature of the offense, and ask “whether ‘the ordinary case’ of an offense poses the requisite risk.” The court went on to conclude that defining the “ordinary case” under the “crime of violence” provision poses the same vagueness and due process problems, including unpredictability and arbitrariness, as those identified in Johnson. As the court summed it up, “Johnson tells us how to resolve this case.  … [N]one of the minor linguistic disparities in the statutes makes any real difference.” In a section of the opinion not joined by Gorsuch, a plurality of the court rejected the government’s argument that “a less searching form of the void-for-vagueness doctrine applies here than [...]

April 30th, 2018|

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|
Go to Top