Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's restitution award to the victim of defendant's child pornography offenses. In Paroline v. United States, 134 S. Ct. 1710, 1727 (2014), the Supreme Court held that every perpetrator's viewing of a child's image inflicts distinct harm on that child in that it effects "a repetition of the victim's abuse." The court held that the district court followed Paroline in calculating a restitution amount that was reasonably tailored to defendant's causal role. View "United States v. Monzel" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The DC Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for violating a federal law prohibiting the possession of firearms on the grounds of the United States Capitol. Defendant had pleaded guilty to violating this law after parking a car containing three guns on a street near the Capitol. The court held that the Second Amendment does not give defendant the right to bear arms in the Maryland Avenue parking lot because it was set aside for the use of government employees, was in close proximity to the Capitol building, and was on land owned by the government. Therefore, the court considered the lot as a single unit with the Capitol building, and concluded that the lot was a "sensitive" place where firearms prohibitions were presumptively lawful. Defendant's arguments to the contrary were unavailing. The court also held that defendant's conviction did not violate the Due Process Clause where the text of the Capitol Grounds ban was quite clear, and an ordinary citizen would readily understand from the text of the statute that he may not carry a firearm on the Capitol Grounds or inside the Capitol. View "United States v. Class" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Plaintiff filed suit alleging that the retroactive application of the 2000 parole guidelines, rather than the 1987 guidelines in effect at the time of his offense, in his parole hearings violated the Ex Post Facto Clause and the Fifth Amendment Due Process Clause. The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal in favor of defendants, holding that plaintiff's claim for damages failed because the parole officials named as defendants were entitled to qualified immunity. The court also held that the parole commission did not violate plaintiff's due process rights where, even assuming the evidence supporting plaintiff's guilt of the first rape was insufficient to support the denial of parole, it was undisputed that the second rape—his offense of conviction—occurred while he was out on bond. The court held that this alone sufficed to suggest a risk of recidivism and to support a rational determination that his relatively low guidelines range inadequately accounted for the risk he posed. Finally, the court held that the district court properly dismissed plaintiff's Fourth Amendment claim that the arrest warrant was unsupported by probable cause. View "Johnson v. District of Columbia" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Petitioner challenged the district court's denial of his petition for writ of habeas corpus, raising a due process challenge to the government's use of undisclosed classified information as a basis for his detention. The DC Circuit held that the district court's ruling that binding circuit precedent denied petitioner all rights to due process was in error. The court explained that Kiyemba v. Obama ruled only that the Due Process Clause does not invest detainees who have already been granted habeas corpus with a substantive due process right to be released into the United States. However, Kiyemba did not decide, or have any occasion to address, what constitutional procedural protections apply to the litigation of a detainee's habeas corpus petition in the first instance. Furthermore, no other decision of this circuit has adopted a categorical prohibition on affording detainees seeking habeas relief any constitutional procedural protections. The court held that the governing law is that petitioner and other alien detainees must be afforded a habeas process that ensures "meaningful review" of their detention pursuant to Boumediene v. Bush. Therefore, the court remanded the case for further proceedings to be conducted within the correct legal framework and to develop the needed factual record. View "Qassim v. Trump" on Justia Law

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Defendants Norman, Brantley, and Rowe appealed their convictions on multiple counts of conspiracy to commit bribery, bribery, and conspiracy to distribute and possess marijuana with the intent to distribute. The DC Circuit held that the district court did not plainly err by interfering in Brantley's plea negotiations; the district court did not err in its guidelines calculations; but Rowe has made a colorable claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. The court held that defendants' remaining arguments lacked merit. Accordingly, the court remanded the ineffective assistance of counsel claim and affirmed the district court's judgment in all other respects. View "United States v. Norman" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The DC Circuit affirmed defendants' convictions and sentences for health care fraud, conspiracy to commit health care fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. The court rejected statutory and constitutional speedy trial claims. The court also held that the district court abused its discretion in denying severance; even assuming a Rule 16 violation, defendants failed to establish the requisite prejudice to their substantial rights for the court to conclude that the district court abused its discretion by not excluding Exhibit 439; the evidence was sufficient to convict defendants; and challenges to the unanimity and aiding-and-abetting instructions rejected on plain error review. The court also held that the district court properly concluded that the $80.6 million in payments from D.C. Medicaid to Global constituted loss under the Mandatory Victims Rights Act; the district court did not plainly violate the Excessive Fines Clause by ordering forfeitures without considering defendants' ability to pay them; and the district court did not abuse its discretion by imposing four sentencing enhancements for committing crimes involving a loss of approximately $80 million, abusing positions of trust, playing a managerial role in the crimes, and violating an administrative order. View "United States v. Bikundi" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit affirmed defendant's 24 month sentence for violating his terms of supervised release. The court held that the sentencing judge reviewed and explained defendant's "very extensive" and "horrible" criminal record, as well as his repeated violations of the terms imposed on him by the current sentencing judge and others during his brief periods out of prison. Furthermore, the sentencing judge did not rely on mistakes of fact or plainly err in calculating his criminal history. The court considered defendant's remaining claims of error and rejected them. View "United States v. Duckett" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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As a result of newly discovered evidence of a Brady violation, the district court vacated defendant's narcoterrorism conviction and resentenced him to concurrent terms of 300 months on the two remaining convictions for conspiracy to distribute heroine and distributing heroin. The DC Circuit held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying defendant's motion for a continuance where the denial did not present a legal bar to prevent him from accessing jury selection records. However, the court agreed with defendant that there was insufficient evidence to support a two-point sentencing enhancement for possession of a firearm during a drug offense. Finally, defendant acknowledged that he could not prevail on his contention that the sentence was unconstitutional because the district court considered uncharged and acquitted conduct in calculating the base offense level. Accordingly, the court remanded for resentencing, but otherwise affirmed the judgment. View "United States v. Bagcho" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The DC Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for three counts of bank robbery, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion by declining to appoint substitute counsel for defendant, nor was it an error of law to conclude that defendant could voluntarily choose to proceed pro se. Furthermore, the district court's Faretta colloquy was not otherwise defective where the district court confirmed that defendant knew he was entitled to counsel regardless of his financial status and that he understood the nature of the charges against him and the maximum penalties he faced. View "United States v. Wright" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Defendants Thompson and Knowles appealed their convictions for conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine (5 kilograms or more) on an aircraft registered in the United States or owned by a United States citizen. The DC Circuit held that conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute does not have an extraterritorial reach because the underlying crime is not extraterritorial. Therefore, the charge of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute was defective, but the error was harmless because no possible prejudice could have arisen from the asserted error. The court also rejected defendants' challenges to the district court's rulings and remanded for an evidentiary hearing on an ineffective assistance of counsel claim. View "United States v. Thompson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law