Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

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The DC Circuit affirmed in part, reversed in part, and vacated in part defendant's resentence. The court held that his challenges to the firearm and role-in-the-offense enhancements were meritorious because the district court plainly erred in applying them. However, defendant's challenge to the drug quantity determination failed because the district court adequately explained its judgment and its findings were supported by the record. The court vacated and remanded the sentence on the RICO conspiracy count because the parties agreed that the district court erred in stating that the Sentencing Guidelines range for the RICO conspiracy was life, rather than 360 months to life. The court remanded for resentencing. View "United States v. Miller" on Justia Law

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A district court's failure to comply with Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure 11(b)(1)(N), by failing to discuss the appeal waiver at the plea hearing, does not affect a defendant's substantial rights if the defendant still knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waived the right to appeal. The court explained that, to determine whether the defendant knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waived the right to appeal, the court of appeals must examine the entire record, including both the written plea agreement and the plea hearing. In this case, defendant knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waived the right to appeal his within-Guidelines sentence. Therefore, the district court's Rule 11(b)(1)(N) error at the plea hearing did not affect defendant's substantial rights and the court dismissed the appeal. View "United States v. Lee" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence, holding that the district court's resentencing decision was eminently reasonable. In this case, defendant argued that the hearing before the district court was tainted because, during the course of resentencing, the trial judge expressed some doubt about the judgment in Kpodi I and government counsel suggested that the district court should disregard this court's decision. The court held that, although government counsel showed little regard for its decision in Kpodi I, the record indicated that the trial judge fully complied with the court's judgment without being influenced by any improper considerations. View "United States v. Kpodi" on Justia Law

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Defendant was convicted of five counts related to his role in a scheme to steal from a labor union. The DC Circuit applied de novo review and held that counts one and two charged the same conspiracy and were therefore not multiplicitous; the district court erroneously enhanced defendant's Guidelines offense level by two levels under USSG 2E5.1(b)(1); and the district court erroneously imposed concurrent prison terms as to counts one and two because the conspiracy statute prescribes a maximum of five years. Accordingly, the court vacated defendant's sentences and remanded for resentencing. View "United States v. Cooper" on Justia Law

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The D.C. Circuit affirmed defendant's 20-month sentence for failing to remove asbestos-containing material prior to renovation. The court did not reach the merits of defendant's claims because he waived his ability to appeal on those grounds as part of his plea agreement. Furthermore, the court held that defendant forfeited his ineffective assistance of counsel claim by failing to assert it until his reply brief. View "United States v. Powers" on Justia Law

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The D.C. Circuit affirmed defendant's 20-month sentence for failing to remove asbestos-containing material prior to renovation. The court did not reach the merits of defendant's claims because he waived his ability to appeal on those grounds as part of his plea agreement. Furthermore, the court held that defendant forfeited his ineffective assistance of counsel claim by failing to assert it until his reply brief. View "United States v. Powers" on Justia Law

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A case in which a district court declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over a prisoner's state-law claims does not count as a strike under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), 28 U.S.C. 1915(g). The PLRA does not require or allow a later district court to simply defer to an earlier district court's contemporaneous statement that a dismissal counts as a strike. The later district court must independently evaluate whether the prior dismissals were dismissed on one of the enumerated grounds and therefore count as strikes. In this case, the DC Circuit held that plaintiff had only one strike and thus he was entitled to in forma pauperis status and may maintain his lawsuit. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's denial of his in forma pauperis status and dismissal of his case. View "Fourstar v. Garden City Group, Inc." on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit vacated defendant's sentence after he pleaded guilty to distribution of more than 28 grams of cocaine. In this case, the government breached its plea agreement with defendant to not use any incriminating statements he provided during a confidential debriefing session against him. The prosecutor relayed to the trial court information derived from the debriefing session and the government acknowledged that the transmittal of this information breached the agreement. The court held that there was at least a reasonable likelihood that defendant would have received a lower sentence in a proceeding untainted by the government's violation. The court remanded for resentencing. View "United States v. King-Gore" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of Appellant Glover and Price's petition to vacate their convictions under 28 U.S.C. 2255. Appellants were convicted of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute one kilogram or more of PCP. The court held that counsel did not perform deficiently for failing to challenge evidence obtained from an electronic surveillance device installed in a vehicle outside of the authorizing court's geographic jurisdiction. In this case, the evidence against appellants was sufficiently strong that counsel's failure to object to specific instances of testimony by a case agent did not prejudice the defense. View "United States v. Glover" on Justia Law

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The fact that most people now carry a cell phone was not enough to justify an intrusive search of a place lying at the center of the Fourth Amendment's protections—a home—for any phone defendant might own. Defendant appealed the district court's denial of his motion to suppress evidence after he was convicted of unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Although the warrant authorized officers to search for and seize all cell phones and other electronic devices in defendant's residence, the supporting affidavit offered almost no reason to suspect that defendant in fact owned a cell phone, or that any phone or other device containing incriminating information would be found in his apartment. The DC Circuit vacated defendant's conviction and held that the warrant to search defendant's residence was unsupported by probable cause and rejected the government's arguments that, even if the warrant was invalid, the firearm still need not have been excluded from the evidence against him. View "United States v. Griffith" on Justia Law