Articles Posted in U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

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Appellants, the majority shareholder of Banca Privada d'Andorra S.A., filed suit claiming that FinCEN violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) by issuing a Notice of Finding and a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking proposing to cut off the Bank's ties to the United States' financial system. While the case was pending, FinCEN withdrew both Notices and the district court subsequently granted FinCEN's motion to dismiss on mootness grounds. The DC Circuit held that the case should be dismissed, but for different reasons than the district court. The DC Circuit explained that when FinCEN withdrew the Notices, appellants received full relief on their first claim. Therefore, the first claim of relief was moot. As for appellants' second claim, they no longer have standing to press this claim, because appellants have not met their burden of demonstrating that they still had standing to seek a declaratory order that the Notices were unlawful. Furthermore, even assuming that appellants do have the requisite injury and causation to support standing, they failed to show that a judicial order would effectively redress their alleged injuries. View "Cierco v. Mnuchin" on Justia Law

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Defendant appealed his 144 month sentence after pleading guilty to one count of distributing child pornography. The DC Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court met its procedural duty to offer specific reasons as to why it imposed an above-Guidelines sentence. In this case, the district court thought the Guidelines did not fully account for the egregiousness of defendant's pattern of abuse, and the Guidelines did not adequately reflect the seriousness and frequency of the sexual abuse, as well as the young age of the victims, and the abuse of trust by someone who was supposed to be protecting his own daughters and granddaughters. View "United States v. Brown" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction related to involvement in an attempted robbery. The DC Circuit held that the district court remedied what little prejudice an emergency room nurse's testimony might have produced by giving a curative instruction to the jury, and that the district court did not plainly err by striking the entirety of defendant's witness' testimony because she asserted a blanket constitutional privilege against self-incrimination. View "United States v. Crews" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, a group of individuals who resolved their misdemeanor charges using the District of Columbia's post-and-forfeit procedure, filed suit challenging the procedure and the statute authorizing it as unconstitutional. The district court dismissed the claims. The court concluded that the post-and-forfeit statute does not deprive arrestees of their procedural due process rights under the Due Process Clause. The court could not say that the post-and-forfeit procedure offends some principle of justice so rooted in the traditions and conscience of our people as to be ranked as fundamental, and does not transgress any recognized principle of fundamental fairness in operation. The court explained that offering arrestees an option to participate in the voluntary post-and-forfeit procedure does not unfairly deprive any arrestee of an opportunity for a hearing. The court concluded that plaintiffs' vagueness challenge to the post-and-forfeit statute is likewise unavailing. The court explained that the fact that the post-and-forfeit statute gives police the discretion to offer an arrestee an opportunity to post and forfeit does not render the statute unconstitutionally vague. Therefore, the post-and-forfeit statute complies with the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution. The court affirmed the judgment. View "Kincaid v. Government of the District of Columbia" on Justia Law

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The court affirmed defendant's convictions on direct appeal for convictions of conspiracy and related offenses involving the large-scale distribution and sale of unlawful drugs in Washington, D.C. Defendant then filed a series of motions collaterally attacking his convictions. This appeal challenged the amended judgment entered by the district court following the partial grant of defendant's motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 2255. The court explained that it need not decide whether the Fair Sentencing Act, Pub. L. No. 111-220, 124 Stat. 2372, 2372, 2374, applies to a resentencing upon a successful collateral attack pursuant to Section 2255; the district court left intact defendant's original trial sentence in 1989 except to apply intervening changes in the law on the merger of offenses; the district court's limited revision to an otherwise final judgment was not a reevaluation of the appropriateness of defendant's original sentence; as a Section 2255 "correction" and not a "resentencing" at which the government has acknowledged the more lenient penalties under the Fair Sentencing Act would apply, this entitled defendant to no relief under the Act; and therefore, the court affirmed the judgment because defendant's due process challenge to his continuing criminal enterprise conviction also afforded no relief. View "United States v. Palmer" on Justia Law

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Defendant appealed his 108 month sentence after pleading guilty to one count of possession of child pornography. The court rejected defendant's contentions and concluded that the the district court gave adequate consideration to the 18 U.S.C. 3553(a) sentencing factors; the district court gave adequate consideration to defendant's policy-based argument for a sentence below the Guidelines range where the district court gave a reasoned basis for the sentence; the district court's statements at sentencing evidence the judge's agreement with the policy behind the Guidelines; and the district court could reasonably conclude that the sentence reflected the seriousness of the conduct and would protect the public by deterring defendant and others inclined to do similar kinds of things. Because defendant's sentence was procedurally and substantively reasonable, the court affirmed the judgment. View "United States v. Fry" on Justia Law

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Defendants were arrested after interrupting an oral argument session of the United States Supreme Court. On appeal, defendants challenged their conviction under 40 U.S.C. 6134, the statue that prohibits making a "harangue" or "oration" in the Supreme Court building. The district court struck the words "harangue" and "oration" from section 6134 as unconstitutionally vague, and the Government appealed. The court concluded that the district court erred in striking these words as unconstitutionally vague where the core meaning of these words was delivering speeches of various kinds to persons within the Supreme Court's building and grounds, in a manner that threatens to disturb the operations and decorum of the Court. In the context of the Supreme Court's building and grounds, the court explained that the terms' core meaning proscribes determinable conduct. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "United States v. Bronstein" on Justia Law

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Defendant plead guilty to failing to register with local authorities under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), 42 U.S.C. 16901 et seq. Defendant first argued that insofar as the Attorney General took steps before defendant's alleged SORNA violation to "specify" the act's application to pre-SORNA offenders, those efforts were defective under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. 551 et seq. Second, defendant argued that Congress's vesting the Attorney General with such authority violated the constitutional rule against undue delegation of legislative authority. The court explained that all the other geographic circuits have addressed the nondelegation claim and have rejected it. The court need not reach the delegation issue based on its conclusion regarding the APA claims. Concluding that the act did not apply to pre-SORNA offenders at the time of defendant's charged conduct because of the Attorney General's APA violations, the court reversed the district court ruling and vacated the conviction. View "United States v. Ross" on Justia Law

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Defendants Borda and Alvaran-Velez appealed their convictions under 21 U.S.C. 959, 960, 963 of conspiracy to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine knowing and intending that the cocaine would be unlawfully imported into the United States. Defendants raised numerous issues on appeal. The court rejected defendants' claims of procedural errors, including improper evidentiary admissions and exclusions, insufficient jury instructions, Brady and Napue violations, and improper closing arguments. Therefore, the court affirmed defendants' convictions. The court rejected Alvaran's contentions of error but remanded nonetheless for resentencing. In this case, after Alvaran was sentenced, the Sentencing Commission lowered the Guidelines range for certain offenses involving cocaine, and permitted district courts to apply these lower ranges retroactively (Amendment 782). The government agreed to Alvaran's request for resentencing. The court rejected defendants' remaining claims. View "United States v. Borda" on Justia Law

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Defendant pleaded guilty to willful failure to pay over federal employment taxes in violation of 26 U.S.C. 7202 and received an above-Guidelines sentence of imprisonment. On appeal, defendant challenged his sentence. Defendant committed the crime in this case while he was pleading guilty and being sentenced for a nearly identical crime. The court noted that there are good reasons for concluding that the Statements of Reasons district judges submit to the Sentencing Commission are purely administrative, to assist the Commission's data-gathering function, not to confer on a sentenced defendant some after-the-fact procedural protection. The court joined every other circuit in holding that because the district court's oral explanation sufficed, any written deficiency did not affect defendant's substantial rights and therefore does not warrant vacating his sentence or remanding the case. Finally, the court concluded that the district court's remark regarding an adequate punishment did not render the sentence unlawful, and defendant's sentence was not too severe nor an abuse of discretion. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "United States v. Jackson" on Justia Law