Articles 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

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Defendants Lovo and Sorto were convicted of conspiring to interfere with interstate commerce by robbery, and using, carrying or possessing a firearm during a crime of violence. The DC Circuit rejected defendants' claim that the residual clause of the statutory crime of violence definition that affects them was unconstitutionally vague. After the court issued its opinion, the Supreme Court held in Sessions v. Dimaya, 138 S. Ct. 1204, 1210 (2018), that 18 U.S.C. 16(b) -- the residual clause of section 16's crime of violence definition -- was unconstitutionally vague. In light of the Supreme Court's decision in Dimaya, the court granted rehearing for the limited purpose of vacating defendants' firearm convictions. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "United States v. Eshetu" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Defendant appealed his sentence after he pleaded guilty to drug-related charges. In this case, the government breached the agreement by failing to schedule defendant's superior court pleas to follow his federal sentencing and by recommending that he be sentenced to 33 months' incarceration. The DC Circuit held that the government breached its plea agreement with defendant, but that it could not vacate his sentence because the error was not plain. However, the court remanded defendant's ineffective assistance claim for further proceedings in the district court because plaintiff raised a colorable claim of ineffective assistance by asserting that counsel failed to object to the government's breach of the plea agreement. View "United States v. Murray" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Appellant, a dual citizen of the United States and Canada and incarcerated in the United States where he was convicted of a felony, sought a transfer under a treaty between the United States and Canada to a Canadian prison. The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the complaint and held that the government's self-execution argument was non-jurisdictional and thus did not affect the court's subject matter jurisdiction to consider appellant's case under 28 U.S.C. 1331; even assuming the treaty was not self-executing, the government's position that appellant must rely exclusively on the implementing legislation was flawed, because the text and legislative history of the treaty and the legislation showed that the latter incorporated the substantive standards of the former, making those standards part of domestic law; the treaty provision on which appellant relied provides law to apply, although the scope of judicial review was narrow, limited to the terms of that provision and not reaching the correctness of the assessment or the outcome; and consistent with the narrow scope of judicial review, the denial of appellant's transfer was not arbitrary and capricious. View "Sluss v. DOJ" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit affirmed a pretrial detention order that was issued after release was revoked because of Paul Manafort's alleged commission of new crimes of witness tampering while he was on release. The Government contended that Manafort repeatedly contacted two witnesses, in violation of the district court's gag order, in an effort to secure materially false testimony concerning the activities of the Hapsburg group. The court found no clear error in the district court's finding that Manafort was unlikely to abide by any conditions of release. The court agreed with Manafort that the district court's finding that his communications violated the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia's Stay-Away Order was problematic. However, the court found no clear error in the district court's ultimate finding that there were no conditions that would assure that Manafort would comply with the most fundamental condition of release under the Bail Reform Act: that he not commit a Federal, State, or local crime during the period of release. View "United States v. Manafort" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law