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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court sentencing Defendant to a term of incarceration of one to three years for his conviction of threatening to commit a terrorist act, holding that there was no error in the proceedings below. Specifically, the Court held (1) the circuit court did not err by denying Defendant’s motion to dismiss the indictment against him based upon misleading evidence submitted to the grand jury because Defendant failed to make a prima facie showing of willful, intentional fraud; and (2) there was sufficient evidence to support Defendant’s conviction, and therefore, the circuit court did not err in denying Defendant’s post-trial motions seeking a judgment of acquittal or, in the alternative, a new trial. View "State v. Back" on Justia Law

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Petitioner, a native and citizen of Mexico, sought review of a final order of removal, challenging the BIA's determination that he was convicted of a "particularly serious crime" within the meaning of 8 U.S.C. 1231(b)(3)(B)(ii), which rendered him ineligible for statutory withholding of removal and withholding of removal under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). The Ninth Circuit held that the statutory phrase "particularly serious crime" was not unconstitutionally vague on its face. The panel reasoned that the "particularly serious crime" inquiry requires an imprecise line-drawing exercise, but it was no less certain than the "perfectly constitutional statutes" that the Supreme Court discussed. The panel held that the fatal combination in Johnson v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 2551 (2015), and Sessions v. Dimaya, 138 S. Ct. 1204 (2018), which applied an uncertain standard to an idealized crime on the context of the categorical approach, was not present in this circumstance, because the particularly serious crime inquiry requires consideration of what a petitioner actually did. View "Melgoza Guerrero v. Whitaker" on Justia Law

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Petitioner appealed the district court's denial of his first federal petition for a writ of habeas corpus. The Ninth Circuit affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for an evidentiary hearing on one of petitioner's penalty-phase ineffective assistance of counsel claims. The panel held that petitioner was entitled to equitable tolling for the period from August 29, 1998, to September 17, 1999, and thus reversed the district court's contrary ruling. The panel remanded for further proceedings as to Claims 1(C), 1(D), 1(E), 1(H), 1(I), 1(J), 9, and 14. In regard to two related claims alleging ineffective assistance of trial counsel, the panel held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying an evidentiary hearing as to Claim 1(A). However, the district court abused its discretion in denying an evidentiary hearing as to Claim (F). Therefore, the panel remanded for the district court to hold an evidentiary hearing so that it may properly assess whether the evidence of petitioner's childhood abuse and trauma -- in combination with the brain damage evidence that was not on its own sufficient -- gave rise to a reasonable probability that the outcome of petitioner's sentencing hearing would have been different. Finally, the panel affirmed the district court's denial of petitioner's motion for relief under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b). View "Williams v. Filson" on Justia Law

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In 1992-2006, Snider committed various crimes, including four convictions under Tennessee’s aggravated burglary statute. In 2007, he was convicted of conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine, 21 U.S.C. 846; manufacturing and attempting to manufacture over 50 grams of methamphetamine, 21 U.S.C. 841(a)(1) and 846; possessing equipment, chemicals, products, and materials that may be used to manufacture methamphetamine, 21 U.S.C. 843(a)(6); possessing a firearm after being convicted of a felony, 18 U.S.C 922(g); possessing a stolen firearm, 18 U.S.C. 922(j); and possessing a firearm during and in relation to a drug-trafficking crime, 18 U.S.C. 924(c). Snider was sentenced as a career criminal offender based on three Tennessee aggravated burglary convictions deemed crimes of violence (USSG 4B1.1(b)(B)), which was defined to include “burglary of a dwelling.” The Sixth Circuit affirmed the denial of Snider’s motion (28 U.S.C. 2255) to vacate his sentence, rejecting his argument that its 2017 "Stitt" ruling that a conviction for Tennessee aggravated burglary is not a “violent felony” under the Armed Career Criminal Act, 18 U.S.C. 924(e) required that it vacate his sentence as a career offender under the sentencing guidelines. Snider’s challenge to his advisory guidelines range is not cognizable under section 2255, which authorizes post-conviction relief only when a sentence “was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, or . . . the court was without jurisdiction ... or . . . the sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized by law, or is otherwise subject to collateral attack.” View "Snider v. United States" on Justia Law

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Defendant Jay Giannukos appealed two convictions involving the illegal possession of firearms. While conducting a parole search of Giannukos’s home, officers found two firearms, methamphetamine, and counterfeiting equipment. A grand jury indicted Giannukos on four counts: (1) possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine; (2) possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime; (3) being a felon in possession of a firearm; and (4) counterfeiting Federal Reserve Notes with the intent to defraud. A jury convicted Giannukos of all counts. Giannukos appealed Counts 2 and 3, arguing that the district court gave an erroneous constructive possession jury instruction and that the prosecutor made improper statements during her closing argument. After review of the trial court record, the Tenth Circuit agreed, reversed and remanded the case for a new trial. View "United States v. Giannukos" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed in part the decision of the court of appeals denying Defendant’s ineffective assistance of counsel claim on appeal, holding that the court erred in finding that Defendant waived his ineffective assistance claim by only including a cursory discussion of ineffective assistance in a footnote. Defendant was convicted of drug offenses. On appeal, the court of appeals held (1) there was sufficient evidence to support the convictions, and (2) Defendant failed to preserve error on his ineffective assistance of counsel claim. On further review, the Supreme Court held that the court of appeals erred in rejecting Defendant’s ineffective assistance claim rather than preserving it for a postconviction relief proceeding. The Court then affirmed the judgment of the district court and instructed that Defendant could bring a separate postconviction relief action based on his ineffective assistance of counsel claim. View "State v. Harris" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction of first-degree murder murder and second-degree arson and the sentences imposed in connection with the convictions, holding that the evidence was sufficient to support the convictions and that Defendnat's trial counsel was not ineffective. On appeal, Defendant argued that the evidence at trial was insufficient to prove the elements of her convictions and that her trial counsel provided ineffective assistance in eight respects. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the evidence was sufficient to support the convictions and that the record refuted Defendant’s claims of ineffective assistance. View "State v. Golyar" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's imposition of a $5,000 special assessment and held that 18 U.S.C. 3014 allows the district courts to consider defendant's future earning capacity when determining whether a defendant is indigent. In this case, the district court found defendant non-indigent based on evidence that he took accelerated placement courses in high school, obtained his GED, and briefly attended college; had a wide range of vocational skills; had a long history of employment; had previously earned $40,000 annually; and was able bodied. View "United States v. Graves" on Justia Law

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The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's motion to suppress evidence of child pornography from a cell phone. The court held that, while the warrant affidavit alone did not establish probable cause, the evidence was admissible under the good faith exception to the exclusionary rule articulated in United States v. Leon, 468 U.S. 897 (1984). Under the circumstances, the officer had a reasonable basis to believe that there was probable cause to search the phone. View "United States v. Thomas" on Justia Law

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The Fourth Circuit affirmed defendant's resentence for time served, followed by two years of supervised release to expire in April 2019. The court held that the case was not moot where defendant received a unitary sentence and a challenge to that sentence presented a live controversy, even though he has served the custodial portion of the sentence. The court held that, although the district court procedurally erred by imposing a time-served sentence that amounted to an unexplained variance from the Sentencing Guidelines, the error was harmless. View "United States v. Ketter" on Justia Law