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Nouvèl Jiridik ak Aktyalizasyon

United States v. Moon, No. 20-13822 (May 10, 2022)

In United States v. Moon, No. 20-13822 (May 10, 2022) (Jill Pryor, Branch, Hull), the Court affirmed the defendant’s child pornography convictions. First, the Court upheld the denial of a motion to suppress videotapes found during the execution of an unrelated search warrant on the defendant’s medical office.  The Court concluded that the search was within the scope of the warrant because it referred to “videotapes” and “tapes.”  Thus, the officer was entitled to briefly examine the tapes, as that was the only way to determine their relevance to the crime.  The Court rejected the defendant’s argument that the videotapes were too obsolete to contain criminal evidence, as the office contained a VCR as well as a hidden surveillance camera. Second, the Court upheld the district court’s closures of the courtroom to display sensitive evidence.  The Court found that the parties entered into a pre-trial agreement to do so.  The Court joined other circuits in holding that the structural right to a public trial is waivable.  And the Court concluded that the defendant waived that right by entering the pre-trial agreement, affirmatively consenting to the closure at various points early in the trial, and subsequently failing to object to any [...]

May 10th, 2022|

Seabrooks v. United States, No. 20-13459 (May 6, 2022)

In Seabrooks v. United States, No. 20-13459 (May 6, 2022) (Wilson, Rosenbaum, Conway (MD Fla.)) (per curiam), the Court reversed the denial of a 2255 motion based on Rehaif, vacated the felon-in-possession conviction, and remanded for further proceedings. The Court issued three holdings.  First, it agreed with the parties that Rehaif announced a  new “substantive” rule, and so it applied retroactively in initial 2255 motions.  Second, it held that Seabrooks’ Rehaif claim was not “procedurally barred” by his failure to raise that claim on direct appeal, since Rehaif was an intervening change in law.  And the government waived any argument about “procedural default” by failing to raise that defense in the district court.  Third, the Court held that the district court’s aiding and abetting instruction, which was erroneous in light of Rosemond and Rehaif, was not harmless because there was more than a reasonable probability that the jury relied on that theory to convict. Major congrats to Brenda on this win! https://media.ca11.uscourts.gov/opinions/pub/files/202013459.pdf http://defensenewsletter.blogspot.com/

May 9th, 2022|

United States v. Clark, No. 20-10672 (Apr. 28, 2022)

In United States v. Clark, No. 20-10672 (Apr. 28, 2022) (Jordan, Jill Pryor, Tjoflat), the Court affirmed Mr. Clark's convictions and sentence. Mr. Clark was convicted of possessing a firearm as a convicted felon, possessing methamphetamine with intent to distribute, and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.  After a jury trial, he was sentenced to 360 months' imprisonment. Mr. Clark raised five issues on appeal.  First, he argued that the district court abused its discretion in denying his motion for a new trial based on the government's post-trial disclosure of Brady material about a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives special agent who had been internally disciplined for destroying evidence in a previous case involving an individual charged with distributing narcotics and being a felon in possession of a firearm (as a result of this agent's misconduct, one of the United States Attorney's Offices refused to accept future cases from him).  At Mr. Clark's trial, this special agent testified as an expert witness about the interstate nexus and gun identification.  The Court found no abuse of discretion because Mr. Clark received a fair trial with a "verdict worthy of confidence," even without the disclosure of Brady material. Second, Mr. Clark argued [...]

May 4th, 2022|

United States v. Thomas, No. 19-11670 (Apr. 25, 2022)

In United States v. Thomas, No. 19-11670 (Apr. 25, 2022) (Branch, Grant, Tjoflat), the Court affirmed Mr. Thomas's sentence. Mr. Thomas appealed his 120-month sentence for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of actual methamphetamine and 1 kilogram or more of heroin.  He argued that the district court erred in (1) applying a two-level enhancement under U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1(b)(12), and (2) failing to apply the safety valve of U.S.S.G. § 5C1.2. With regard to § 2D1.1(b)(12), the PSI asserted that Mr. Thomas had maintained a stash house for the purpose of manufacturing or distributing a controlled substance.  In support, the PSI noted that Mr. Thomas had possessed a key to the drug trailer located in the backyard of the stash house.  Mr. Thomas argued that he did not own the stash house, did not reside there (though he did concede that he did live there for a small part of the conspiracy), and possessed a key only to the trailer, not the house. The Court found application of a two-level enhancement under § 2D1.1(b)(12) appropriate because of Mr. Thomas's concession that he lived at the stash house for a good portion of the conspiracy.  As a result, [...]

April 26th, 2022|

United States v. Mosley, No. 20-11146 (Apr. 21, 2022)

In United States v. Mosley, No. 20-11146 (Apr. 21, 2022) (William Pryor, Jordan, Brown (N.D. Ga.)) (per curiam), the Court vacated Mr. Mosley's sentence and remanded for further proceedings. Mr. Mosley pleaded guilty to one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g) and 924(a)(2).  At sentencing, his advisory Guidelines' range was calculated to be 37 to 46 months' imprisonment.  Both his attorney and the government requested a sentence within the guideline range.  The district court, however, varied upwards to 87 months' imprisonment on account of Mr. Mosley's criminal activity and background.  Subsequently, in its Statement of Reasons, the district court stated it imposed the sentence, in part, because the weapon involved was stolen from the police department.  Mr. Mosley appealed, arguing that the district court erred in sentencing him based on that conclusion without first allowing him an opportunity to object. The Court agreed with Mr. Mosley.  It reaffirmed that under Jones, a district court must elicit fully articulated objections, following imposition of sentence, to the court's ultimate findings of fact and conclusions of law.  The district court here did not follow the Jones procedure.  No one mentioned that the firearm had been stolen from [...]

April 26th, 2022|

United States v. Stowers, No. 18-12569 (Apr. 20, 2022)

In United States v. Stowers, No. 18-12569 (Apr. 20, 2022) (Jordan, Brasher, Anderson), the Court affirmed the district court's denial of the defendants' motions to suppress. In this consolidated appeal, the Court answered several questions of first impression regarding Title III of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act, which regulates the interception of wire, oral, and electronic communications.  While investigating a suspected drug trafficking conspiracy, a Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent secured a wiretap authorization order from a state judge. The wiretap ultimately implicated the nine named defendants in the conspiracy.  When federal authorities prosecuted them based on this state-gathered evidence, the defendants asked the district court to suppress the evidence on three grounds: (1) the state judge did not correctly seal the wiretap recordings as required under Title III; (2) the government impermissibly delayed sealing the wiretap recordings without providing a satisfactory explanation for the delay; and (3) the state court's wiretap authorization order exceeded its jurisdiction. The order authorizing the wiretap contained the following language: “Let return hereof and report as required by law be made before me within forty (40) days of date hereof or ten (10) days from the date of the last interception, whichever is earlier.” [...]

April 26th, 2022|
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