Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

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For Fourth Amendment purposes, mandatory supervision is more akin to parole than probation. While defendant served the last year of his sentence on mandatory supervision, he agreed to submit to warrantless, suspicionless searches of his person, his residence, and any premises under his control. At issue was whether a warrantless, suspicionless search of a hotel room defendant rented with his girlfriend violated the Fourth Amendment. Applying the Fourth Amendment analysis applicable to parolees, the Ninth Circuit held that the officers had probable cause to believe that the hotel room constituted "premises" under defendants' control. Therefore, there was no Fourth Amendment violation and the district court properly denied defendant's motion to suppress the evidence found in his hotel room. Finally, the panel rejected defendant's contention that the district court abused its discretion by imposing a supervised release condition requiring him to submit warrantless, suspicionless search conditions. In this case, defendant had adequate notice of the condition and the district court did not abuse its discretion where the facts justified the district court's belief that defendant posed an exceptionally high risk of re-offending. View "United States v. Cervantes" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence for conspiracy to distribute and possess marijuana, distribution of marijuana, maintaining a drug-involved premises, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. The convictions stemmed from defendant's involvement in an operation of purported medical-marijuana collective storefronts. The panel held that defendant was not entitled to remand for an evidentiary hearing on his state law compliance; the district court erred by giving an overly strong anti-nullification jury instruction, but the error was harmless; the district court did not err by denying defendant's motion to suppress evidence seized pursuant to a state search warrant; the district court did not err by denying defendant's motion for a Franks hearing; the district court did not err by declining to instruct the jury on defendant's joint ownership defense; the district court did not abuse its discretion by considering the government's late-filed objections to the presentence report; and defendant's 211 month sentence was substantively and procedurally reasonable. The panel found defendant's remaining challenges on appeal were without merit. View "United States v. Kleinman" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed defendant's conviction for transportation of firearms into his state of residence. The panel held that, given the district court's broad jury instruction and the government’s theory of the case, it was not clear beyond a reasonable doubt that the jury actually found that defendant had willfully committed the charged conduct. The broad jury instruction, combined with the evidence of the commission of later crimes and the government's argument to the jury, resulted in significant prejudice to defendant. The panel explained that the rule from the common law requires that a defendant's mental state and act coincide for a conviction to be valid. Neither Bryan v. United States nor 18 U.S.C. 922(a)(3) and 924 deviate from this rule. View "United States v. Salvador Hernandez" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed defendant's conviction for conspiracy to make, print, or publish "any notice or advertisement seeking or offering" child pornography. Defendant's conviction stemmed from his membership in an online bulletin board where members shared child pornography. In this case, the district court effectively ruled that, as a matter of law, the closed nature of the bulletin board was irrelevant to the question of whether an "advertisement" or a "notice" had been shown, and thus could not properly be considered by the jury. The panel held that the district court violated defendant's fundamental right to assistance of counsel and right to present a defense, and it relieved the prosecution of its burden to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. Because defendant's Sixth Amendment right to present his defense was violated, the court remanded for a new trial. View "United States v. Brown" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit held that the search of claimant's vehicle following two coordinated traffic stops violated the Constitution and affirmed the district court's order granting claimant's motion to suppress. In this case, claimant's roadside detention was unreasonably prolonged in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The subsequent dog sniff and search of the vehicle followed directly in an unbroken causal chain of events from that constitutional violation. Consequently, the seized currency was the fruit of the poisonous tree and was properly suppressed under the exclusionary rule. View "United States v. Gorman" on Justia Law

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Defendant appealed his conviction for illegally importing weapons into the United States. The Ninth Circuit held that the presumption against extraterritoriality has been rebutted by the provisions within the weapons importation statute and the legislative history accompanying the statute; the evidence was sufficient to support defendant's conviction; the motion to suppress was properly denied; in regard to the motion to dismiss the indictment, the district court did not clearly err in finding that defendant failed to establish bad faith; the district court acted within its discretion when it elected to issue a curative instruction rather than granting a mistrial for the purported violation of Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 16; the district court did not abuse its discretion in admitting evidence regarding defendant's previous smuggling conduct, and any error in admitting the evidence was harmless; the district court adequately instructed the jury regarding the elements of causing the importation of weapons into the United States; and there was no merit to the contention that the district court's willfulness instruction was incomplete or potentially allowed the jury to convict defendants for merely facilitating or brokering deals. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "United States v. Ubaldo" on Justia Law

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California Vehicle Code 2800.2 is not categorically a crime of moral turpitude. Petitioner, a native and citizen of Mexico, petitioned for review of the BIA's decision concluding that his conviction for fleeing from a police officer under section 2800.2 was categorically a crime involving moral turpitude that made him statutorily ineligible for cancellation of removal. Given the flaws in the BIA's analysis, the Ninth Circuit accorded minimal deference to the agency's determination that section 2800.2 constitutes a categorical crime involving moral turpitude. The panel held that, under the categorical approach, the conduct criminalized in section 2800.2 does not necessarily create the risk of harm that characterizes crimes of moral turpitude, even though subsection (a) standing alone would appear to contain elements of a dangerous crime. The court explained that, in this case, it did not apply the modified categorical approach because the elements of section 2800.2 were clearly indivisible. View "Ramirez-Contreras v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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The en banc court overruled United States v. Hernandez-Franco, 189 F.3d 1151 (9th Cir. 1999), and held that a Sentencing Guideline other than USSG 2X1.1 expressly covers an inchoate offense only if the Guidelines themselves so indicate. In this case, defendant was convicted of conspiracy to commit robbery under the Hobbs Act, 18 U.S.C. 1951, and of other federal crimes. Defendant received sentencing enhancements under USSG 2X1.1 for conduct that he contemplated and intended, but did not carry out: abduction, carjacking, and theft. The en banc court affirmed the sentence and clarified how to determine when another Guidelines section "expressly" covers an inchoate offense. The en banc court explained that a sentencing court should begin with Application Note 1 to section 2X1.1, but also may look to the title and content of other Guidelines provisions, or other relevant intra-Guidelines context. Sentencing courts should not, however, rely exclusively on the underlying substantive offense in the United States Code, because statutory language sheds no light on the question of whether a Guidelines section expressly covers the offense, for purposes of section 2X1.1(c). Here, the district court correctly applied section 2X1.1 to determine defendant's sentence and relevant sentencing enhancements because USSG 2B3.1, the Robbery provision, did not expressly cover conspiracies under the Hobbs Act. View "United States v. Simon" on Justia Law

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Pursuant to the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act of 1996 (MVRA), a defendant may discharge a restitution judgment based on a private settlement between the victim and the defendant. Restitution is a criminal sentence that cannot be extinguished by a victim’s disclaimer of benefits. A district court may redirect restitution payments to the federal Crime Victims Fund when a victim later disclaims restitution without making a direct assignment to the Fund. The statute provides leeway for the court to fashion this practical solution. In this case, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the denial of plaintiff's motion seeking full satisfaction of a restitution judgment entered after conviction for bank fraud and submitting a false loan application. View "United States v. Hankins" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit filed an order denying Christopher Sherrod's application for authorization to file a second or successive 28 U.S.C. 2255 motion. The panel joined its sister circuits in holding that an 18 U.S.C. 3582(c)(2) sentence reduction does not qualify as a new, intervening judgment. Therefore, Sherrod must obtain authorization from this court to proceed on a second or successive section 2255 motion. In this case, Sherrod has failed to make a prima facie showing under section 2255(h) of newly discovered evidence or a new rule of constitutional law. Therefore, the panel denied his application. View "Sherrod v. United States" on Justia Law