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The Government filed a civil forfeiture proceeding, seeking certain of Erick Silva Santos' assets that were allegedly tied to his conduct as a corrupt Mexican official. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's fugitive disentitlement order and dismissed Silva's appeal of the default judgment of forfeiture. In this case, the district court did not err in its interpretation of the Mexican documents—that is, that they did not expressly and unambiguously provide a basis for concluding that the instant charges have been presented to and resolved by any official act of government in Mexico. Because no authority of Mexico has ever exonerated Silva, the court need not discuss his additional arguments. View "United States v. All Funds on Deposit at Sun Secured Advantage" on Justia Law

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Facing the possibility of two life sentences, Schneider pleaded guilty to sexually abusing his minor daughter, 18 U.S.C. 2243(a)(1). The court warned Schneider five times that it could impose a sentence as high as 15 years’ imprisonment and that if the guidelines range turned out to be “closer to five years or above,” that, alone, would not be a reason for Schneider to withdraw his guilty plea. Schneider said he understood; the district court accepted his plea. After a change in appointed lawyers, Schneider unsuccessfully moved to withdraw his plea following the release of the PSR, which recommended that Schneider receive a five-level upward adjustment as a “repeat and dangerous sex offender against minors,” U.S.S.G. 4B1.5. The district court sentenced him below the guidelines range to 96 months’ imprisonment. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, rejecting an argument that his plea was involuntary. Schneider filed a collateral challenge, arguing that his trial lawyer was ineffective for advising him that he met the statutory elements of the offense of sexual abuse of a minor and for not explaining that his prior conduct could be considered during sentencing. The Seventh Circuit affirmed denial of relief, noting Schneider’s efforts to get his daughter to recant, and the testimony of his first attorney about his statements to Schneider. The district court’s findings on direct appeal are the law of the case; Schneider’s claims are implausible. View "Schneider v. United States" on Justia Law

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Appellant was convicted of first-degree murder in a Massachusetts court. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court affirmed Appellant’s conviction and sentence and declined to grant collateral relief. Appellant later pursued a petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. 2254. The United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts denied Appellant’s petition. On appeal, Appellant argued that his trial was unconstitutionally unfair because the Commonwealth failed to turn over evidence that the Commonwealth’s chief witness was given inducements in exchange for favorable testimony and because the Commonwealth suborned the witness’s perjurious testimony to the contrary. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that no inducements were given and that the prosecution did not suborn perjury. View "Jackson v. Marshall" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed Appellant’s conviction of first-degree driving while impaired, holding that Appellant’s 2005 gross-misdemeanor conviction of criminal vehicular operation was not a qualified prior impaired driving incident and was therefore improperly used to enhance Appellant’s offense to a first-degree crime. Appellant’s current offense of driving while impaired was enhanced to a first-degree crime based on the existence of three prior impaired-driving convictions, including the 2005 conviction at issue. The court of appeals affirmed, ruling that Appellant’s current offense was properly charged and adjudicated as a first-degree crime because his 2005 conviction was a qualifying offense. In reversing the court of appeals, the Supreme Court held that the evidence was insufficient to convict Appellant of first-degree driving while impaired because, under the plain language of Minn. Stat. 169A.03, subd. 20, Appellant’s 2005 criminal vehicular operation conviction did not qualify as a prior impaired driving conviction. View "State v. Smith" on Justia Law

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Perry conditionally pled guilty to conspiring to possess narcotics with intent to distribute. On appeal, Perry argued that the activities indicating drug sales that were observed over the seven weeks before the issuance of the search warrant were stale evidence because the activities were not individually dated. The Sixth Circuit affirmed denial of his motion to suppress. Even without specific dates, the amount of suspicious activity observed within the seven weeks in connection with Perry’s apartment was enough to support probable cause. The court noted several complaints from concerned residents about drug sales being conducted in the apartment complex and in a black Chevrolet Impala and naming Perry and his girlfriend as the sellers; Perry had several prior drug charges; an officer observed Perry exchange money and packages, which appeared to contain marijuana, at a fence; the officer observed multiple additional transactions involving Perry and his girlfriend that appeared to be drug transactions. The officer stated that his observations occurred between October 15 and December 3—two to 51 days before the probable-cause determination; his observations of heavy car and foot traffic, repeated transactions, and one particular transaction, all suggested that apartment four was home to a sizeable ongoing drug business. View "United States v. Perry" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction and 78 month sentence for theft of a firearm from a federally licensed firearms dealer. This circuit has held that proof of the act of stealing does not require proof of a defendant's specific intent to permanently deprive, and thus defendant's proposed additional jury instruction was unnecessary. The court held that the district court correctly concluded that defendant's base offense level was fourteen because he was a prohibited person, a drug user, at the time of the offense under USSG 2K2.1(a)(6)(A). Furthermore, the district court correctly increased that base offense level by two under USSG 2K2.1(b)(4)(A) because the firearm was stolen. Finally, the court held that the special condition prohibiting the use of alcohol and prohibiting defendant from entering bars or taverns was reasonably related to the 18 U.S.C. 3553(a) factors. View "United States v. Glinn" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's 293 month sentence after he pleaded guilty to several federal criminal charges, including conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. The court held that the government did not breach the plea agreement when it argued at sentencing that defendant was responsible for more than 149.93 grams of actual methamphetamine. In this case, defendant's agreement reserved to both parties the right to present at sentencing any evidence and argument on issues not explicitly agreed to or decided in the document. Furthermore, for a plea to be voluntary, a defendant need not understand precisely how the sentencing guidelines will apply to his case View "United States v. Guardado" on Justia Law

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Farid Mangal was convicted of criminal sexual conduct with a minor, lewd act upon a child, and incest. After his convictions were affirmed, Mangal filed this action for post-conviction relief (PCR), arguing trial counsel was ineffective for not objecting to improper bolstering testimony. The PCR court refused to rule on the improper bolstering issue because the court found Mangal did not raise it in his PCR application or at the PCR hearing. The court of appeals reversed, finding the improper bolstering issue was raised to the PCR court. The court of appeals then proceeded to grant PCR on the merits of the issue before it was considered by the PCR court. Finding the appellate court erred in its conclusion, the South Carolina Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals and reinstated the PCR court's order. View "Mangal v. South Carolina" on Justia Law

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Petitioner and his “enlisted cohorts” went to, in petitioner’s estimation, peacefully retrieve his forty-seven-inch plasma-screen television from Kevin Bowens (Victim). Victim was shot and killed on his property by one of Petitioner's accomplices during the confrontation. Petitioner was convicted of murder. The State contended the evidence demonstrated that Petitioner intended to retrieve his television by any means necessary, including the use of force. According to the State, Victim's death was therefore a natural and foreseeable consequence of Petitioner's plan to retrieve his television and, under the theory of accomplice liability that says the “hand of one is the hand of all,” Petitioner was guilty of murder. Petitioner countered he only wanted to peacefully reclaim his television, he had no idea his accomplice was armed, and he actually tried to be a calming influence when the situation became tense. The court of appeals affirmed, holding the trial court properly denied Petitioner's motion for a directed verdict. Finding no reversible error in that judgment, the South Carolina Supreme Court affirmed. View "South Carolina v. Harry" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions for the first-degree murders of three victims and concluded that Defendant was not entitled to relief under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 278, 33E. The court held (1) the evidence was sufficient to support Defendant’s convictions; (2) the trial judge did not abuse his discretion in admitting photographs of items found during the search of Defendant’s apartments; (3) the judge did not abuse his discretion in admitting Defendant’s statement regarding scars on his right arm; (4) there was not a substantial likelihood of a miscarriage of justice in the prosecutor’s closing argument; and (5) the verdicts of murder in the first degree are fully consonant with justice. View "Commonwealth v. Veiovis" on Justia Law