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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|

United States v. Sanfilippo, No. 22-11175 (Feb. 8, 2024)

In United States v. Sanfilippo, No. 22-11175 (Feb. 8, 2024) (Jordan, Lagoa, Marcus), the Court dismissed Mr. Sanfilippo's appeal. Mr. Sanfilippo appealed his conviction for wire fraud pursuant to a guilty plea.  He argued that the district court erred in denying his motion to dismiss the indictment against him because it was issued after the expiration of the federal statute of limitations under 18 U.S.C. § 3282.  More specifically, he argued that the district court misinterpreted § 3282(a), and thus incorrectly concluded that the government indicted him within the statute of limitations by filing an information.  His argument specifically relied on a case that was pending before this Court at the time of his plea--United States v. B.G.G.  At the change of plea hearing, the government noted that if it turned out that the government was in error by filing an information within the statute of limitations, Mr. Sanfilippo "would be exonerated at that point, just as a matter of fundamental fairness." The government further noted that what it would do was "allow [Sanfilippo] to withdraw his guilty plea, and then [the government] would have to dismiss the charges, because the statute of limitations had run.  Sanfilippo would be able to file a [...]

February 27th, 2024|

United States v. Daniels, No. 22-10408 (Jan. 24, 2024)

In United States v. Daniels, No. 22-10408 (Jan. 24, 2024) (Jordan, Lagoa, Marcus), the Court affirmed Mr. Daniels's convictions and sentence. Mr. Daniels was convicted of ten counts of Hobbs Act robbery and sentenced to 180 months' imprisonment. On appeal, he first argued that the district court erred by rejecting his proposed jury instruction on eyewitness identifications, taken from the Third Circuit's model instructions.  The Court disagreed, finding that the instructions given substantially covered Mr. Daniels's proposed instruction on eyewitness identifications. He next argued that cumulative evidentiary errors prejudiced his right to a fair trial.  Applying plain error review to the claims of evidentiary error, the Court disagreed. He also argued that the jury lacked sufficient evidence to convict him under Count 7 of the superseding indictment.  First, he argued that no reasonable jury could find beyond a reasonable doubt that the robber in Count 7 threatened the victim with force or violence—a necessary condition for Hobbs Act robbery. Second, he argued that no reasonable jury could find, beyond a reasonable doubt, that he committed the robbery alleged in Count 7.  The Court rejected both arguments. Finally, he argued that his sentence was substantively unreasonable because the district court accounted for Mr. [...]

February 27th, 2024|
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