Justia Criminal Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals
Dixon v. U.S. Attorney General
Petitioner sought review of the BIA's dismissal of his appeal from the IJ's order of removal under 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(A)(iii). Petitioner argued that his Florida state conviction for aggravated fleeing was not an aggravated felony. The court concluded that, under relevant Florida law and considering the factual circumstances of the proceedings related to petitioner's aggravated fleeing offense, the probation revocation and resentencing resulted in a prison term of at least one year, in satisfaction of the aggravated felony statute, 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(43)(F). Further, the Florida state conviction was a crime of violence where, by fleeing from law enforcement, defendant has already resorted to an extreme measure to avoid arrest, signaling that he is likely prepared to resort to the use of physical force. Accordingly, the court denied the petition. View "Dixon v. U.S. Attorney General" on Justia Law
United States v. Mathis
Defendant appealed his convictions and sentences for several child exploitation offenses. Defendant raised eight claims of error concerning the denial of his motion to suppress, introduction of a victim's text messages, insufficiency of the evidence, denial of his motion for a mistrial, juror-related errors, cumulative error, and application of sentencing enhancements under U.S.S.G. 2G2.1(b)(6) and 18 U.S.C. 2251(e). The court concluded that none of the issues defendant raised have merit and affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "United States v. Mathis" on Justia Law
Reed v. Secretary, FL DOC, et al.
Petitioner was convicted of vehicular homicide of two pedestrians. The district court granted habeas relief on petitioner's claim that defense counsel rendered ineffective assistance by failing to investigate and call a witness at trial. The court reversed, concluding that petitioner has not shown that the state court's ruling was contrary to or an unreasonable application of Supreme Court law where the state court had a reasonable basis for concluding that petitioner did not suffer prejudice from any claimed deficiency. Accordingly, the court reversed the issuance of the writ and remanded with instructions to reinstate petitioner's convictions. View "Reed v. Secretary, FL DOC, et al." on Justia Law
Winthrop-Redin v. United States
Petitioner pleaded guilty for charges related to his role as a boat crew member in an international drug-smuggling operation. Petitioner subsequently sought postconviction relief under 28 U.S.C. 2255, claiming that his plea was coerced by death threats from the boat's captain and that his counsel provided ineffective assistance by instructing him not to report the threats. The court affirmed the district court's rejection of petitioner's claims without an evidentiary hearing where petitioner was not entitled to relief because he put forward only implausible, conclusory allegations. View "Winthrop-Redin v. United States" on Justia Law
United States v. Kirk
Defendant appealed his conviction and sentence for being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition. The court concluded that the district court did not err in applying the fifteen-year mandatory minimum sentence under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), 18 U.S.C. 924(e)(1), where his prior burglary offense qualified as a violent felony under the ACCA's residual clause regardless of whether they were based on his "entering" or "remaining in" the dwellings at issue, and where defendant has failed to show that the district court erred in concluding that his prior convictions were for offenses "committed on occasions different from one another." Finally, the district court did not err in denying defendant's motion for judgment of acquittal where the government produced sufficient evidence to demonstrate the minimal nexus between the firearm and ammunition defendant possessed and interstate commerce. Therefore, the jurisdiction element of section 922(g) was satisfied and that statute was not unconstitutionally applied to defendant's conduct. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "United States v. Kirk" on Justia Law
Berry, et al. v. Leslie, et al.
Officers of the Orange County Sheriff's Office (OCSO) and representatives from the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) conducted an unannounced, warrantless inspection of a barbershop with the intent of discovering violations of state licensing laws. Plaintiffs, who were subject to the "administrative inspection," filed suit alleging that the officers violated their Fourth Amendment rights to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. At issue was whether the district court's conclusion that two certain government officials were not entitled to qualified immunity. The court affirmed the judgment of the district court where it has long been clearly established that a warrantless administrative inspection must be narrowly tailored to the administrative need that justifies it. In this case, the manner in which the inspection was undertaken was unreasonable from its inception and was, in fact, a search. View "Berry, et al. v. Leslie, et al." on Justia Law
Samak v. FCI Coleman Medium Warden
Petitioner was convicted of conspiracy to violate the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970 (OCCA) in violation of 18 U.S.C. 371 and one count of violating the OCCA through destruction by fire in violation of 18 U.S.C. 844(i). On appeal, petitioner challenged pro se the district court's dismissal for lack of jurisdiction his 28 U.S.C. 2241 habeas corpus petition challenging his convictions and total sentence of life imprisonment. The court concluded that petitioner provided no argument as to why either of his claims satisfied the savings clause. Because binding Fifth Circuit precedent at the time of his sentencing actually supported his claim that he should not have been sentenced to life imprisonment, petitioner cannot show that, at the time of his sentence or any other relevant time, circuit precedent squarely foreclosed his claim. Likewise, petitioner's ineffective assistance of counsel claim related to counsel's advice as to a guilty plea failed. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Samak v. FCI Coleman Medium Warden" on Justia Law
Saunders v. Duke, et al.
Plaintiff filed suit against law enforcement officers under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that officers used excessive force when his head was slammed against the pavement with extreme force after he had been handcuffed and was lying prone on the ground. The court held that plaintiff stated a valid Fourth Amendment claim for excessive force and that defendants were not entitled to qualified immunity. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's claim. View "Saunders v. Duke, et al." on Justia Law
Bates v. Secretary, FL DOC
Petitioner, a death row inmate convicted of murder, was granted a certificate of appealability by this court on two grounds: first, petitioner contended that his trial counsel was constitutionally ineffective for failing to object to an opening prayer, which was delivered in the presence of the jury venire by a minister of the church where the victim's funeral service had been held; and second, petitioner contended that his due process rights were violated at his capital resentencing proceeding when the trial court refused to instruct the jury that he had agreed to waive his eligibility for parole, and that he had already been sentenced to two life terms plus fifteen years on his other counts of conviction, which would run consecutively to any sentence imposed for first-degree murder. The court affirmed the district court's denial of habeas corpus relief under 28 U.S.C. 2254 where the district court's decision was not contrary to, or an unreasonable application of, clearly established federal law. View "Bates v. Secretary, FL DOC" on Justia Law
United States v. Green
Defendant, convicted of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine base, appealed the district court's denial of his motion for a reduced sentence. At issue was whether, on a motion for a reduced sentence, a district court may clarify the quantity of drugs for which it held a defendant accountable at an earlier sentencing hearing. The court joined a number of its sister circuits in concluding that a resentencing court is permitted to make an independent drug quantity finding if it cannot determine the defendant's amended guideline range without doing so. In this case, the district court did not err when it denied defendant's motion because the amendment did not change his guideline range; the law-of-the case doctrine does not bar the clarification by the district court; and, therefore, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "United States v. Green" on Justia Law