Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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Defendant challenged the district court's denial of his ineffective assistance of counsel claim. The DC Circuit affirmed in part and held that defendant's trial counsel was constitutionally deficient because counsel failed to investigate the possibility of impeaching the government's central witness as biased against defendant, despite ample indication that he should and could do so. However, counsel's deficient performance did not prejudice defendant as to the drug trafficking charge. In regard to the narcoterrorism charge, the court could not determine on the record whether defendant was prejudiced. Therefore, the court vacated in part and remanded for further proceedings. View "United States v. Mohammed" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Defendant and her son appealed from their convictions for conspiracy to commit tax fraud and related offenses. The DC Circuit held that the prosecutor's blatant misstatements of key evidence during closing arguments, in the absence of any steps to mitigate the resulting prejudice, required reversal of the son's convictions; because the evidence against the son was insufficient, he was not subject to retrial; defendant was not prejudice from the closing arguments; and defendant's evidentiary challenges were unpersuasive. The court affirmed defendant's convictions but remanded her case for resentencing and for reconsideration of her claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. View "United States v. Davis" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit affirmed defendant's 172 month sentence after he pleaded guilty to distribution of child pornography. The court held that the government's recidivism comment was only that—a comment—and appeared to have had no influence on the length of imprisonment to which defendant was sentenced. Defendant's sentence was also procedurally reasonable. However, the court vacated two conditions of supervised release: notifying the probation office when he establishes a significant romantic relationship and informing the other party of his prior criminal sex offenses, and penile plethysmograph testing. View "United States v. Rock" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Precedent requires the district court to consider each and every non-frivolous argument for mitigation, but does not require the judge to address expressly each argument on the record when pronouncing the sentence. The D.C. Circuit affirmed defendant's 132 month sentence after he was convicted of criminal conduct involving child pornography, holding that the district court committed no obvious or plain error. In this case, defendant failed to show that it was an obvious error for the district court to fail to expressly state that all of defendant's mitigation arguments were appropriately considered but nonetheless rejected. View "United States v. Pyles" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Appellant appealed the district court's dismissal of his habeas petition as time-barred, seeking a certificate of appealability (COA) from the DC Circuit. Because the petition was plainly time-barred and no jurist of reason could take issue with the procedural ruling by the district court, the court denied his request for a COA without having to reach his constitutional claim. View "Blount v. United States" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a federal prisoner, filed a pro se petition seeking relief by way of writ from what he alleged to be an illegally imposed sentence. The DC Circuit rejected plaintiff's claims under the international doctrine of specialty and the international doctrine of dual criminality. Even assuming that 18 U.S.C. 3192 created an implied individual claim for relief and that the district court would have the authority to compel the President to perform this duty, the only relief that plaintiff seeks is release from a conviction and sentence which he claims were imposed in violation of the Constitution and laws of the United States. The court explained that plaintiff's arguments classically described habeas relief. The court rejected plaintiff's remaining arguments and affirmed the district court's dismissal based on lack of jurisdiction. View "Day v. Trump" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Defendant was convicted of unlawful possession with intent to distribute 100 grams or more of PCP (Count 1), unlawful possession of a firearm or ammunition by a person convicted of a felony (Count 2), and using, carrying, and possessing a firearm during a drug trafficking offense (Count 3). The DC Circuit reversed defendant's conviction on Counts 1 and 3, holding that the evidence was equivocal about his relationship to the PCP and his ability to exercise dominion and control over it. Therefore, the evidence was insufficient to show that he constructively possessed the PCP and thus insufficient to show a drug trafficking offense. The court affirmed defendant's conviction on Count 2, holding that his evidentiary and constitutional challenges did not warrant a reversal of his conviction for unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. View "United States v. Dorman" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The DC Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the government based on claimants' lack of Article III standing in a civil forfeiture case. The court held that claimants met their burden of making an assertion of ownership and provided some evidence of ownership to establish standing. The court explained that credibility determinations, the weighing of the evidence, and the drawing of legitimate inferences from the facts were jury functions and not those of a judge. In this case, the record was devoid of contradictory evidence, claimants consistently maintained that the money was theirs, nothing in their account was physically impossible, and the couple explained how they came to own the money in considerable detail. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded. View "United States v. $17,900.00" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against defendant, the former chair of the United States Parole Commission, alleging that plaintiff's denials of parole were infected by unconstitutional decisionmaking. The district court dismissed the case sua sponte, concluding that parole commissioners were entitled to absolute immunity from such lawsuits. The DC Circuit affirmed on the ground that defendant was entitled to qualified immunity. The court explained that, even under the most generous reading of the complaint, defendant was entitled to qualified immunity as to each of the five claims alleged against him. View "Redmond v. Fulwood, Jr." on Justia Law

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Appellants, the majority shareholder of Banca Privada d'Andorra S.A., filed suit claiming that FinCEN violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) by issuing a Notice of Finding and a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking proposing to cut off the Bank's ties to the United States' financial system. While the case was pending, FinCEN withdrew both Notices and the district court subsequently granted FinCEN's motion to dismiss on mootness grounds. The DC Circuit held that the case should be dismissed, but for different reasons than the district court. The DC Circuit explained that when FinCEN withdrew the Notices, appellants received full relief on their first claim. Therefore, the first claim of relief was moot. As for appellants' second claim, they no longer have standing to press this claim, because appellants have not met their burden of demonstrating that they still had standing to seek a declaratory order that the Notices were unlawful. Furthermore, even assuming that appellants do have the requisite injury and causation to support standing, they failed to show that a judicial order would effectively redress their alleged injuries. View "Cierco v. Mnuchin" on Justia Law

Posted in: Banking, Criminal Law