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The Fifth Circuit denied motions for authorization to file a successive habeas petition under 28 U.S.C. 2244, and for a stay of execution. Movant was sentenced to death after he used a semiautomatic assault rifle to open fire on a children's birthday party, injuring party attendees and killing a grandmother and her five year old granddaughter. The court held that movant failed to make a prima facie showing that the factual predicate for his new habeas claim could not have been discovered through the exercise of due diligence and thus could not have been included in his first federal petition. The court also held that he failed to make a prima facie showing that, based on the testimony at issue, no reasonable juror would have found him guilty; movant's claim was not dismissed on the basis of an independent and adequate state procedural ground; and the Brady claim movant wished to raise with the district court was therefore alternatively time-barred. View "In Re: Erick Davila" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff challenged the district court's denial of her request to receive a certificate described in 28 U.S.C. 2513 from the district court that set aside the conviction. In this case, defendant was convicted of and imprisoned for various federal crimes, only to have her conviction set aside ten years later for ineffective assistance of counsel. The court held that the statute made clear, and the court's case law supported, that plaintiff must show that the district court vacated her conviction because she was not guilty—not just that the district court discussed her innocence, or even mentioned that it thought she was not guilty. Because plaintiff's conviction was set aside on procedural grounds, she failed to satisfy section 2513(a)(1). Therefore, plaintiff failed to identify any reversible error in the district court's denial of her certificate. View "Hernandez v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for illegal reentry. The court held that defendant's possible misunderstanding of the consequences of testifying triggered no duty for the district court to explain the right to testify. The court also held that the district court properly denied defendant's motion to dismiss the indictment where the court's precedent foreclosed his argument that the district court should have dismissed his indictment based on defects in his removal proceedings. View "United States v. Rodriguez-Aparicio" on Justia Law

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Mariano Moya and Lonnie Petry were arrested based on outstanding warrants and detained in a county jail for 30 days or more prior to their arraignments. These arraignment delays violated New Mexico law, which required arraignment of a defendant within 15 days of arrest. Both men sued under 42 U.S.C. 1983 for deprivation of due process. The district court granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss for failure to state a valid claim. The Tenth Circuit affirmed because Moya and Petry failed to plausibly allege a factual basis for liability. View "Moya v. Garcia" on Justia Law

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Defendant-Appellant Kyle Hebert was convicted by jury on four counts of possession of child pornography. He was sentenced to 120 months’ imprisonment and 15 years’ supervised release. On appeal, Hebert challenged the district court’s finding that he had two prior convictions that triggered a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years’ imprisonment. The Tenth Circuit affirmed, finding Hebert’s prior convictions “relate to” sexual abuse under the categorical approach. View "United States v. Hebert" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed Defendant Whitman's conviction and Defendant McCarty's sentence for convictions of bribery, wire fraud, theft, and obstruction involving government contracts. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion when it refused to give a lesser-included-offense instruction on giving illegal gratuities. The court also held that the district court did not clearly err when it calculated McCarty's sentencing guidelines range using the loss amount caused by all participants in the jointly undertaken criminal scheme. View "United States v. Whitman" on Justia Law

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Petitioner challenged the district court's denial of his petition for habeas relief after he pleaded guilty to an accomplice to murder charge and was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment and held that petitioner's counsel's initial performance was not deficient under Strickland v. Washington, where counsel's opposition to a state hospital evaluation that could be used against him was an acceptable strategic decision. Furthermore, petitioner failed to prove that counsel was deficient in failing to have a competency evaluation performed prior to the entry of the plea. The court held that, taken as a whole, the evidence was insufficient to establish a reasonable probability that petitioner would have been found incompetent to proceed. Therefore, petitioner could not establish that he was prejudiced by counsel's decisions. View "Camacho v. Kelley" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for obstruction of justice for threatening to retaliate. The court held that the difference between the verdict director and the indictment was so immaterial as to be de minimis, and defendant did not suffer prejudice. The court also held that the evidence was sufficient to support a verdict that defendant threatened an individual with the intent to retaliate against the individual's client for the client's participation as a party to an official proceeding. View "United States v. Stephens" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for conspiracy to commit visa fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud in foreign labor contracting, and conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. The court held that the evidence was sufficient to demonstrate that defendant agreed with others to bring H-2A workers to the U.S. and to require them to pay a recruitment fee, travel costs, and kickbacks on their wages; she had already been using the H-visa system for years and knew its legal requirement; and she knew that the scheme would require that she or the others would file false certifications with DOL and DHS under penalty of perjury and that those false statements would materially affect agency decisions for an H-2A employer. In this case, the conspirators knew what they were doing was illegal and carried out a number of overt acts in furtherance of their arrangement. The court rejected defendant's claim that the district court should have granted her motion to question jurors individually at an evidentiary hearing as well as her motion for a new trial after an Assistant United States Attorney overheard a juror say the word "guilty," in the presence of other jurors, on an elevator. View "United States v. Bart" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit denied a petition for panel rehearing of the original panel decision in United States v. Martinez, 862 F.3d 223 (2d Cir. 2017). Petitioner argued that the original panel erroneously ruled that his statute-of-limitations defense had been waived for failure to assert it at or before his trial and claimed that he had in fact raised the defense prior to trial by joining in pretrial motions asserted by a codefendant. The court held that the codefendant's motion that petitioner purported to join asserted a statute-of-limitations defense that relied on the personal conduct of that codefendant, did not mention the conduct of petitioner, did not assert the principles on which petitioner sought to rely, and asserted premises disavowed by petitioner in his appeal. View "United States v. Rodriguez" on Justia Law