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Criminal Law & Procedure [09/23] US v. Pham
In an identity theft case challenging the level of sentencing enhancement imposed, the sentence is vacated and case remanded where: 1) a four level enhancement under U.S. Sentencing Guidelines section 2B1.1(b)(2)(B) requires that victims sustain actual losses beyond immediate losses quickly covered by a third party; 2) the victims’ monetary losses were covered by their respective banks; and 3) the government failed to provide adequate evidence of victim losses due to inconvenience in rectifying their accounts or due to not having their money in the time before their losses were covered.
[09/23] US v. Cavins
Chiropractor’s conviction for willfully attempting to evade and defeat payment of federal income tax is affirmed over claims that: 1) the indictment failed to charge and the government failed to prove a willful violation of 26 U.S.C. section 7201; 2) the district court erred in refusing to dismiss the indictment because Form 1040 returns for the 1992-1994 tax years failed to comply with the Paperwork Reduction Act; and 3) the admission of evidence that he failed to file income tax returns violated his Fifth Amendment rights.
[09/23] US v. Rogers
Revocation of defendant’s supervised release and a resultant sentence are affirmed where: 1) the district court did not abuse its discretion in the revocation as it did not clearly err in finding that he violated the conditions of his supervised release by committing an assault under state law; 2) the revocation sentence was proper as 18 U.S.C. section 3583(b)’s 3-year maximum term of supervised release did not apply in this case; and 3) the sentence was not unreasonable.
[09/22] Quinones v. Super. Ct.
Petition for writ of prohibition restraining respondent-court from proceeding further on torture and attempted murder counts is partially granted where: 1) the torture charge unfairly surprised petitioner; but 2) the attempted murder charge did not.
[09/22] Brown v. Alexander
In a conviction for sale of controlled substance in or near school grounds, denial of writ of habeas corpus is affirmed over claims that the state courts unreasonably applied Batson v. Kentucky in concluding that petitioner had not presented a prima facie case of race discrimination with respect to jury selection at her criminal trial in state court.
[09/19] Blanton v. Quarterman
Denial of a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in a capital case is affirmed over claims that: 1) trial counsel was ineffective in his investigation and presentation of mitigation evidence during the sentencing phase of trial; 2) trial counsel was ineffective in his failure to properly preserve a Batson claim; and 3) appellate counsel was ineffective in her presentation of his Batson claim on direct appeal.
[09/19] US v. Cartier
In a prosecution for offenses involving, inter alia, sexual exploitation of minors, denial of defendant’s motion to suppress evidence and statements is affirmed over claims that: 1) an agent failed to establish that there was probable cause to issue a search warrant; 2) the search warrant was overly broad and did not articulate a search strategy; and 3) he was not advised of the Miranda warnings prior to giving a statement.
[09/19] US v. Hoover
A conviction for two counts of using a firearm in connection with a drug trafficking offense, resulting in the deaths of two individuals, is affirmed over claims that: 1) the evidence was insufficient to support the verdict; 2) the district court erred in two evidentiary rulings; and 3) a verdict should have been entered on only one count because the counts were redundant.
[09/19] Burns v. PA Dep’t of Corr.
In an inmate’s suit alleging due-process and retaliation claims against prison officials, summary judgment for defendants is reversed and remanded where a disciplinary conviction directing that an inmate’s institutional account be assessed for medical or other expenses implicates a property interest sufficient to trigger the protections of procedural due process.
[09/19] US v. Nguyen
Conviction for battery in the collection of a gambling debt is affirmed over a claim that the district court erred in granting of the government’s motion to exclude evidence of the victim’s prior conviction where: 1) the victim’s prior conviction was more than ten years old; 2) appellant made no showing of the substantive value of evidence of the conviction; and 3) the prior conviction was for car theft and did not go to the veracity of the victim’s testimony.
[09/19] US v. Lopez
Sentence for cocaine possession with intent to distribute is affirmed where the district court did not clearly err in its factual determinations when rejecting defendant’s request for a sentence reduction as a minor participant.
[09/19] US v. Krasinski
Sentence for drug distribution and money laundering is affirmed where: 1) there was no merit to defendant’s objections to an enhancement for transfer of money from the US to Canada; 2) the district court did not clearly err when it estimated the number of pills attributable to defendant; 3) the district court was also justified in imposing an obstruction of justice enhancement and denying an acceptance of responsibility reduction; and 4) the sentence was reasonable.
[09/19] Torzala v. US
Denial of a motion to vacate, set aside or correct defendant’s sentence is affirmed where defendant knowingly and voluntarily entered into his guilty plea, and he received effective assistance of counsel.
[09/19] US v. Hodson
In an appeal arising from a district court’s denial of a defendant’s motion to suppress evidence seized pursuant to a warrant, the circuit court rules that a suspect’s ostensibly admitting to having engaged in child molestation is not sufficient, without more, to establish probable cause to search that suspect’s home for child pornography.
[09/19] US v. Shank
In a prosecution for use of a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime, denial of defendant’s motion to suppress evidence is affirmed over claims that: 1) officers lacked probable cause to effectuate a traffic stop; 2) his detention in the back of a police cruiser continued too long and violated his Fourth Amendment rights; and 3) a search of the vehicle violated his Fourth Amendment rights because officers lacked reasonable suspicion that he was armed.
[09/19] US v. Magassouba
In a case challenging the length of detention of a defendant found incompetent to stand trial, denial of a motion to dismiss defendant’s indictment and entry of an order committing defendant to further psychiatric treatment are affirmed where: 1) under the collateral order doctrine, the court has jurisdiction to review an order of commitment pursuant to 18 U.S.C. section 4241(d)(2)(A) authorizing involuntary medication; 2) 18 U.S.C. section 4241(d)(2) does not limit a district court’s authority to order a defendant’s further hospitalization under section 4241(d)(2)(A); 3) initial hospitalization beyond the section 4241(d)(2) limit of four months was harmless error; and 4) defendant’s nineteen month detention since the time of being found incompetent was not so unreasonable as to violate due process.
[09/19] US v. Hassan
In a case regarding the import and distribution of khat plant, conviction on counts of money laundering are reversed, and convictions for conspiracy to launder money, conspiracy to import cathinone, and conspiracy to distribute cathinone are vacated and remanded for retrial where: 1) the government did not show that the funds laundered by defendant were proceeds of cathonine sales; 2) the government at trial erroneously referred to khat as an illegal substance; 3) the government presented no evidence as to whether the khat at issue contained cathonine (a Schedule I controlled substance) or cathine (a Schedule IV controlled substance); and 4) the jury instructions failed to inform the jury that intent to import or possess khat, or cathine, would not be sufficient to convict on cathonine charges.
[09/18] US v. Klein
A doctor’s convictions for mail and health care fraud are affirmed and sentence vacated and remanded where: 1) two proposed jury instructions were properly denied; 2) there was sufficient evidence of an effect on interstate commerce to support the convictions; but 3) the amount-of-loss calculation used in sentencing did not discount the actual loss by the value of the drugs dispensed by defendant.
[09/18] Johnson v. State of Florida
Conviction for felony driving under the influence (DUI) is affirmed where: 1) defendant’s silence on the issue of a jury trial was not a waiver of his right to have a jury determine, separately from the question of his guilt on the charged DUI, whether he had been convicted of DUI in the past; but 2) a jury would have found that defendant had three previous DUI convictions, and the error was therefore harmless.
[09/18] Sexton v. State of Florida
In a capital-murder case, denial of motion for postconviction relief is affirmed over claims of error regarding: 1) ineffective assistance of counsel during the penalty phase of petitioner’s trial; 2) summary denial of claims of ineffective assistance during the guilt phase; 3) the constitutionality of rules limiting the subjects about which counsel may interview jurors; and 4) the constitutionality of Florida’s lethal-injection protocol.
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