Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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Felons are not among the law-abiding, responsible citizens entitled to the protections of the Second Amendment. The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's action seeking to enjoin the enforcement of 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(1), which prohibits anyone convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year from owning firearms for life. The court held that, in this applied challenge, plaintiff failed to show facts about his conviction that distinguished him from other convicted felons encompassed by the section 922(g)(1) prohibition. In this case, plaintiff was convicted as a felon for falsifying his income on mortgage applications twenty-seven years ago. View "Medina v. Whitaker" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit vacated defendant's sentence after he pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to conduct the affairs of an enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity, one count of accessory after the fact for the murder of an officer or employee of the United States, and one count of accessory after the fact to the attempted murder of an officer or employee of the United States. The court held that, even if the district court had intended to consider defendant's murder of a Mexican national in Mexico as relevant conduct under USSG 1B1.3(a)(1)(A), it would not have been able to do so because the relevant conduct Guidelines could not be used to calculate the base offense level of an act that did not qualify as "racketeering activity." The error sufficiently prejudiced defendant, and the court remanded for resentencing. View "United States v. Flores" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The DC Circuit affirmed, on alternative grounds, the district court's denial of defendant's motion for post-conviction relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 2255. The district court denied the motion on the merits. The court held, however, that defendant procedurally defaulted on his claim by failing to preserve it for review and failed to demonstrate the prejudice necessary to obtain post-conviction relief. In this case, the district court's application of USSG 3C1.2 had no effect on the sentence imposed. View "United States v. Hicks" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The DC Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction of conspiracy to distribute, and conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute, 100 grams or more of a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of heroin. The court held that the evidence was sufficient to prove that defendant was responsible for 100 grams or more of heroin where the jury could have concluded that when a local drug dealer said he gave defendant 100 grams, the dealer in fact gave defendant 100 grams. The court need not resolve defendant's challenges to the district court's alternative rationales. View "United States v. Durrette" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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DC Code 24-409 generally requires the Commission to hold an offender’s first DC parole hearing at his DC parole eligibility date, and that rule also applies to offenders, like plaintiff, who become eligible for DC parole before their projected federal parole date. Plaintiff, a federal prisoner, filed suit against members of the U.S. Parole Commission, alleging that the Commissioners had unlawfully delayed his first hearing for parole from his DC sentence. The DC Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the Commissioners, holding that plaintiff's first DC parole hearing was unlawfully delayed. In plaintiff's case, the projected federal parole date came after the single parole eligibility date. Therefore, under section 24-409, plaintiff should have received his first parole hearing as soon as he finished serving his DC minimum sentence. The court remanded for the Commission to reconsider each of its prior parole decisions and to hold a new parole hearing. View "Ford v. Massarone" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Defendants pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute, and possess with intent to distribute, the drugs on board the Mistby, in violation of the Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Act (MDLEA) and the Controlled Substances Import and Export Act. The DC Circuit held that the district court had subject-matter jurisdiction over defendants' prosecutions, because Colombia's waiver of objection to U.S. jurisdiction over the Mistby covered defendants' MDLEA prosecutions. However, defendants' offenses were covered by the safety valve provision of 18 U.S.C. 3553(f), which exempts covered offenses from mandatory-minimum sentences such as the 10 year sentences imposed against defendants. Accordingly, the court vacated defendants' sentences and remanded for resentencing. View "United States v. Mosquera-Murillo" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The DC Circuit affirmed Defendants Ayala, Machado-Erazo, and Martinez-Amaya's convictions and sentences for conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) statute. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by allowing the admission of other crimes evidence. The district court abused its discretion by allowing an agent to testify regarding specific distances and ranges of distances because such testimony was neither disclosed pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 16, nor vetted as required by Federal Rules of Evidence 702 and 403. However, the error was harmless and reversal was not warranted. Finally, defendants' remaining claims were addressed in an unpublished judgment. View "United States v. Machado-Erazo" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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A generic appeal waiver does not affect a defendant's ability to appeal his sentence on yet-to-arise ineffective-assistance-of-counsel grounds. The DC Circuit held that the appeal waiver did not preclude defendant from appealing on the ground that he received ineffective assistance of counsel in his sentencing proceeding. In this case, defendant executed a generic appeal waiver, with no explicit waiver of his right to appeal on ineffective-assistance-of-counsel grounds. The court held that it could not resolve the ultimate merits of defendant's claims and remanded to the district court for further proceedings. View "In re: Sealed Case" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The DC Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for threatening to murder a federal law enforcement officer. The court held that the indictment fairly informed defendant of the charge against him so as to satisfy the Constitution and Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 7(c); the district court properly rejected defendant's entrapment defense as a matter of law; and the district court did not abuse its discretion by sentencing defendant to 96 months of imprisonment. Finally, defendant argued, and the government conceded that, the district court erred by denying him access to jury-commission records he was entitled to inspect under 28 U.S.C. 1867. Accordingly, the court remanded for the district court to allow defendant to access such records. View "United States v. Williamson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of a petition for habeas corpus relief to Moath Hamza Ahmed Al-Alwi, a detainee at Guantanamo Bay. Al-Alwi was captured in December 2001 for his Taliban-related activities and has remained in United States custody ever since. The court rejected Al-Alwi's argument that the United States' authority to detain him has "unraveled" where, although hostilities have been ongoing for a considerable amount of time, they have not ended. The court held, in the alternative, that the government's authority to detain Al-Alwi pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) has not expired. Finally, the court did not reach the merits of Al-Alwi's remaining arguments because he has forfeited them. View "Al-Alwi v. Trump" on Justia Law