Articles Posted in U.S. D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals

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Plaintiffs, prisoners who violated D.C. criminal laws before March 3, 1985, filed suit contending that the Parole Commission contravened the Ex Post Facto Clause by retroactively applying parole guidelines that it issued in 2000, instead of the guidelines in place at the time of their offenses. The court reversed the district court's dismissal of the complaint for failure to state a claim because the court concluded that plaintiffs have plausibly alleged that the application of the 2000 guidelines creates a "significant risk of prolonging [their] incarceration." The court remanded for further proceedings. View "Daniel, et al. v. Fulwood, Jr., et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that the District bore responsibility for the Board's unconstitutional parole revocation decision after the Board determined that plaintiff's parole was based primarily on unreliable multiple-hearsay testimony. The district court found the District liable and a jury awarded defendant damages. The District appealed. The court concluded that the Rooker-Feldman doctrine did not bar the district court from having jurisdiction over plaintiff's claim; the court held that the District is not liable under section 1983 for the Board's decision and the District was entitled to summary judgment on the question of its liability; and, therefore, the court vacated and remanded. View "Singletary v. District of Columbia" on Justia Law

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The District and two police officers appealed the district court's liability determinations resulting from the grant of partial summary judgment against them. The district court granted partial summary judgment in plaintiffs' favor because no reasonable officer in their shoes could have found probable cause to arrest any of the plaintiffs. The officers arrested everyone present at a party for unlawful entry because the host of the party had not finalized any rental agreement and so lacked the right to authorize the party. The court concluded that the officers lacked probable cause for the arrest because it was undisputed at the time that the arresting officers knew plaintiffs had been invited to the house by a woman that they reasonably believed to be its lawful occupant. The court also concluded that the officers lacked probable cause to arrest for disorderly conduct because the evidence failed to show any disturbance of sufficient magnitude to violate local law. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to plaintiffs on the ground that the arrests violated their clearly established Fourth Amendment rights and District of Columbia law against false arrest. The court also affirmed the district court's holding that the District was liable for negligent supervision because the supervising police sergeant at the scene also overstepped clear law in directing the arrests. View "Wesby, et al. v. DC, et al." on Justia Law

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Ronnie Leroy Howard appealed the denial of his petition for a writ of habeas corpus, seeking immediate release from parole contending that the procedural irregularities relating to parole revocations in 1985 and 2004 warrant habeas corpus relief. The court rejected Howard's argument that the Commission ordered that the first five years of an intervening state sentence would run concurrently with his federal sentence but failed to treat them as concurrent, because Howard misread the Notice of Action. The court rejected Howard's arguments based on his contention that the Commission did not properly execute, or never executed, a 1982 parole violator warrant, because it was immaterial. Finally, the court rejected Howard's contention that the Commission executed a separate 1998 parole violator warrant in 2000 or 2002, but delayed the associated parole revocation hearing until 2004, because Howard raised no grounds warranting reversal. Because Howard's claims failed on the merits, the court affirmed the district court's denial of habeas relief. View "Howard v. Caufield, et al." on Justia Law

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Defendant challenged his sentence and consecutive terms of supervised release under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b) and Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 36. The district court denied both motions. The court concluded that it lacked jurisdiction over defendant's appeal from the denial of his Rule 60(b) motion and dismissed that portion of the appeal. The court affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's Rule 36 motion because he failed to assert a clerical error within the meaning of that rule. The court also concluded that 28 U.S.C. 2106 does not authorize the court to grant defendant the relief he seeks. View "United States v. Arrington" on Justia Law

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Defendant, the former policy director of the House Transportation Committee, appealed his convictions on three counts relating to his receipt of illegal gratuities from Jack Abramoff's lobbying group. The court concluded that, because the indictment alleged that defendant accepted the World Series trip for or because of his official assistance in influencing the language of the federal highway bill, the charge on Count 2 contained the required element, and the district court correctly denied defendant's motion to dismiss. Further, the evidence was sufficient to convict defendant on all counts. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "United States v. Verrusio" on Justia Law

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Defendant, convicted of multiple counts of defrauding the Washington Teachers Union, appealed the denial of his motion to vacate his convictions under 28 U.S.C. 2255. The court concluded that defendant has not stated a Brady claim that "jurists of reason" would find debatable and, therefore, the court denied his request for a certificate of appealability (COA) on this issue; although the court granted a COA on defendant's Skilling claim, he cannot overcome the procedural default that bars the court from considering his claim on the merits; and the court granted a COA on defendant's Adefehinti claim but concluded that he failed to carry his burden of showing the actual innocence required to overcome his untimely filing. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "United States v. Baxter, II" on Justia Law

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Petitioner appealed the dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus, arguing that he was denied his right to the effective assistance of counsel when his appellate counsel failed to seek plain error review of the trial judge's instruction that the jury must find him guilty even if the government failed to prove an element of a charged offense beyond a reasonable doubt. The court concluded that petitioner met his burden under Strickland v. Washington and that he was entitled to a new direct appeal at which he may raise this instructional error before the D.C. Court of Appeals for plain error review. View "Payne v. Stansberry" on Justia Law

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Defendant was convicted of various fraud charges, sentenced to nine years in prison, and ordered to pay restitution. Two years later, the sentencing court held a hearing because defendant paid only a negligible amount toward his fine and restitution. Defendant subsequently paid with a fictitious International Bill of Exchange that he created. In 2007, the district court held a hearing to determine whether defendant should be held in civil contempt until he made the payment. Defendant appeared pro se, asserted no defense, was held in contempt, and remained incarcerated for the next five years. In 2012, the district court ruled that defendant had not met his burden of making out an inability-to-comply defense, and ordered defendant's contempt status continued. The court concluded that it lacked jurisdiction to hear defendant's various challenges to the district court's 2007 order because defendant failed to timely appeal that order. With regard to the 2012 proceedings, the court held that defendant waived any due process right to counsel he may have had. The court denied defendant's remaining challenges and affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "United States v. Gewin" on Justia Law

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Defendant appealed his sentence after pleading guilty to two sex offenses. On appeal, defendant mainly asserted that the government breached the plea agreement by failing to tell the Departure Committee the complete "nature and extent" of his cooperation. The court affirmed the judgment because defendant identified no difference between the information he concedes the prosecutor provided to the Committee and what he believes the prosecutor should have provided, and because the prosecutor summarized for the district court both the information that the prosecutor presented to the Committee and the Committee's basis for declining to approve the departure motion. View "United States v. Henry" on Justia Law