by
The Fourth Circuit granted Ergon's petition for review challenging EPA's denial of Ergon's application for an extension of the small refinery exemption from the renewable fuel standard program. The court held that EPA's decision was arbitrary and capricious because EPA relied on DOE's facially-deficient recommendation to an unexplained and unknown degree, and EPA failed to properly address Ergon's petition with regard to renewable identification number costs. View "Ergon-West Virginia, Inc. v. EPA" on Justia Law

by
The Ninth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for theft of mail by a postal employee and possession of stolen mail. The panel held that the district court did not err in denying defendant's motion to dismiss the indictment on due process grounds based on the government's failure to preserve a video of a Postal Service employee parking lot. In this case, the investigating agent did not act in bad faith and the exculpatory value of the video was speculative. The panel also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by failing to instruct the jury on lost or destroyed evidence as a sanction for the government's failure to preserve the parking lot video; a conversation between the prosecutor and two investigating agents outside the courtroom did not violate Fed. R. Evid. 615; the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying defendant's request for production of an agent's notes under the Jencks Act; and the district court did not err by adopting a jury instruction on embezzlement of mail by a postal employee. View "United States v. Robertson" on Justia Law

by
The DC Circuit reversed the district court's denial of defendant's motion for a sentence reduction under Sentencing Guideline Amendment 782, 18 U.S.C. 3582(c)(2). The court held that the district court erred in holding that defendant was categorically ineligible for resentencing. In this case, the sentencing record documented that the later-amended base offense level provision was the starting point and a relevant factor in the sentence the district court imposed. Under Hughes v. United States, 138 S. Ct. 1765 (2018), this was enough to open the resentencing door to defendant. Furthermore, the district court's alternative holding that a resentencing was not warranted contradicted its original finding that defendant's crime was nonviolent, and lacked the personalized analysis required to permit meaningful appellate review. View "United States v. Smith" on Justia Law

by
The Eighth Circuit affirmed Defendant Homedew's conviction for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and Defendant Carr's sentence for possession of methamphetamine. The court held that the district court did not err by denying Homedew's motion to suppress evidence where it found that Homedew voluntarily consented to a search of his backpack; Homedew's ineffective assistance of counsel claim was premature in this direct appeal; and Homedew's additional pro se arguments were without merit. The court also held that Carr's 190 month sentence was substantively reasonable and the district court did not abuse its discretion. View "United States v. Carr" on Justia Law

by
Factors that have already been taken into account in calculating the advisory Guidelines range can nevertheless form the basis of a variance. The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's resentence on remand from the district court. Defendant was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm and the district court sentenced him to the statutory maximum of 120 months in prison. The court held that the district court did not err by applying an upward variance of 83 months from the high end of the Sentencing Range. The sentence in this case was supported by factors not accounted for, either in full or in part, by the Guidelines. The district court also did not err by considering the sentencing factors, including defendant's extensive adult criminal record and likelihood of recidivism. Therefore, defendant's sentence, even if it was in the highest criminal history category, was not substantively unreasonable. View "United States v. Thorne" on Justia Law

by
On remand from the United States Supreme Court, the Fifth Circuit vacated defendant's sentence and remanded for resentencing in light of Hughes v. United States, 138 S. Ct. 1765 (2018). The district court had denied defendant's motion for a sentence reduction under 18 U.S.C. 3582(c)(2) based on Amendment 782 to the United States Sentencing Guidelines, which lowered the base offense levels in the drug quantity table of U.S.S.G. 2D1.1(c). In Hughes, the Supreme Court abrogated this circuit's holding in United States v. Benitez, 822 F.3d 807, 810 (5th Cir. 2016), and held that a sentence imposed pursuant to a Rule 11(c) or "Type-C" plea agreement was typically based on the sentencing guideline range because the court must first evaluate the stipulated sentence in light of the defendant's sentencing guideline range. The Court further held that a sentence imposed pursuant to a Type–C agreement is based on the defendant's Guidelines range so long as that range was part of the framework the district court relied on in imposing the sentence or accepting the agreement. In this case, defendant entered into a Type-C agreement and his sentence was based on his guideline range because it was part of the framework the court relied upon in imposing his sentence. View "United States v. Armstead" on Justia Law

by
Defendant Ryan Booth was convicted of: five counts of sexual penetration of a child 10 years old or younger (counts 2, 3, 5, 7, & 10); three counts of oral copulation of a child 10 years old or younger (counts 1, 4, & 6); five counts of preparing pornographic images of a minor (counts 8, 11, 12, 13, & 14); one count of possessing child pornography (count 9); and one count of sexual exploitation of a child (count 15). As to count 9, the jury found it to be true that defendant possessed more than 600 images and 10 or more images involving a prepubescent minor or a minor under 12 years old. Defendant was sentenced to a determinant term of 8 years 4 months, plus an indeterminate term of 120 years to life. Defendant raised two issues on appeal: (1) the trial court erroneously believed it had no discretion to run the section 288.7 (sexual penetration and oral copulation) sentences concurrently; and (2) section 311.4 did not apply to what he did. Finding no reversible error, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's judgment. View "California v. Booth" on Justia Law

by
At issue in this case was whether a Brady claim is cognizable in the context of a petition for writ of error coram nobis and whether Appellant’s petition for a writ of error coram nobis should be dismissed as time-barred even though the State was not brought into the coram nobis proceedings at the trial court level and, consequently, did not assert the statute of limitations as an affirmative defense in the trial court. Appellant filed a coram nobis petition alleging that the State committed a Brady violation. The trial court dismissed Appellant’s petition in part because it was filed after expiration of the statute of limitations. The Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed because the petition did not present newly discovered evidence warranting coram nobis relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) an error coram nobis proceeding is not the appropriate procedural vehicle for obtaining relief from an alleged Brady violation; (2) timeliness under the statute of limitations is an essential element of a coram nobis claim that must be demonstrated on the face of the petition; (3) the facts supporting an equitable tolling request must likewise appear on the face of the petition; and (4) the trial court did not err in dismissing the coram nobis petition in this case. View "Nunley v. State" on Justia Law

by
After a jury trial, Henry Earl Harvey was convicted of first-degree murder for the 2015 shooting death of Eddie Briggs. Harvey was sentenced to life imprisonment. Harvey filed a Motion for New Trial and for Acquittal Notwithstanding the Verdict, which was denied. Harvey's counsel filed a "Lindsey" brief, stating he “diligently searched the procedural and factual history of this criminal action and scoured the record,” finding no arguable issues for appeal. Harvey was given additional time to file a pro se brief; however, he did not do so. The Mississippi Supreme Court found the record contained "more than sufficient proof" to establish that Harvey shot and killed Eddie Briggs within the meaning of the applicable statute, and as such, affirmed his conviction and sentence. View "Harvey v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

by
A jury found Andre Thomas guilty of one count of felony shoplifting. Thomas and an accomplice went to the electronics section of a Sam's Club in Gulfport, Mississippi at around 8:00 P.M. in 2015. A Sam’s Club employee was working at the store’s exit door on the night in question and was tasked with checking customers’ receipts as they left the store. As Thomas and the accomplice approached the employee, the accomplice stepped away from the store’s exit and feigned a heart attack. The employee came to the accomplice's aid, which allowed Thomas to exit the store without paying for three 60-inch 3D "smart" televisions, each valued at over $2,500. The accomplice was taken to the hospital but released on the same night. A few weeks later, he was arrested and charged with felony shoplifting. The accomplice admitted Thomas had helped him steal the televisions, and he identified Thomas from a six-person photographic lineup. Thomas' appellate counsel filed a "Lindsey" brief, asserting he could not identify any issues warranting appellate review. Thomas filed a pro se supplemental brief, challenging his sentence. Finding Thomas’s arguments to be without merit, and finding no other arguable issues in the record, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed Thomas’s conviction and sentence. View "Thomas v. Mississippi" on Justia Law