Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

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In January 2017 a grand jury in the United States District Court for the District of Wyoming returned a 21-count indictment against Defendant Shakeel Kahn (who was a physician) and others charging distribution of controlled substances and money laundering. The indictment included a criminal forfeiture count under 21 U.S.C. 853, which listed a number of his assets that the grand jury identified as fruits of the alleged crimes. Most of those assets had been seized by the government before filing the indictment. Two weeks after the indictment, Kahn moved for a hearing to challenge the seizure of $1,140,699.95 in currency and bank accounts, asserting he needed this money to retain private counsel of his choice, noting that his only unseized assets were a $175,000 home encumbered by an $80,000 lien and a business that brought in less than $3,000 a month after taxes. He estimated that he would need at least $200,000 to pay counsel and that his total defense costs would be at least $450,000. In April the district court denied the motion. Defendant petitioned the Tenth Circuit for a district-court hearing to challenge the seizure of those assets. The district court denied a hearing because he has some unseized assets with which to pay an attorney. The Tenth Circuit reversed and remanded because the proper test was whether he had sufficient unseized assets to pay for the reasonable cost of obtaining counsel of his choice. View "United States v. Kahn" on Justia Law

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This is the second appeal arising from crimes committed by two corrections officers, Raymond Barnes and Christopher Brown, while employed at the Muskogee County Jail. Barnes and Brown both held administrative roles at the jail: Barnes served as the Jail Superintendent and Brown worked alongside him as the Assistant Jail Superintendent. Both defendants physically abused prisoners in a variety of ways, engaged in excessive force against inmates, and intimidated other jail employees to conceal their illicit activities. Authorities charged Barnes and Brown with three counts of assaulting or conspiring to assault prisoners at the jail. In 2014, a jury convicted both of various charges. The jury convicted Barnes of one count of conspiracy to violate constitutional rights and two counts of deprivation of rights under color of law. The jury found Brown, on the other hand, guilty of one count of conspiracy to violate constitutional rights, one count of deprivation of rights under color of law, and one count of making a false statement to a federal agent. The district court sentenced Barnes to twelve months’ imprisonment followed by twenty-four months of supervised release. Brown received a sentence of six months’ imprisonment followed by thirty-six months of supervised release. Both appealed their sentences. The government argued the sentences the district court imposed after the Tenth Circuit remanded for resentencing were substantively unreasonable. Because the Tenth Circuit found the district court did not abuse its discretion in granting a downward variance from the United States Sentencing Guidelines, it affirmed. View "United States v. Barnes" on Justia Law

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In 2011, Defendant Cory Devon Washington pleaded guilty in the Western District of Oklahoma to two firearm-related offenses. The district court sentenced him to fifteen years’ imprisonment under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA). The United States Supreme Court ruled in Johnson v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 2551 (2015), invalidated the ACCA’s residual clause, Defendant filed a motion to vacate his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 2255, his second such motion. The district court dismissed the motion because Defendant did not establish the sentencing court relied on the residual clause for any of his ACCA predicate offenses. The Tenth Circuit concurred with the district court's decision and affirmed the dismissal. View "United States v. Washington" on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was whether police had a reasonable suspicion to believe defendant Ajohntae Hammond was armed and dangerous to justify frisking him for weapons following a traffic stop. The pat-down revealed a gun in Hammond’s pocket; Hammond was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm. Based on information the officers gleaned from the department’s Police Information Management System (“PIMS”) prior to the pat-down that connected Hammond and the car to gang activity and weapons possession, along with the officers’ observation that Hammond was wearing gang colors, the Tenth Circuit held the officers possessed reasonable suspicion to justify the pat-down search, and affirmed the district court denying his motion to suppress the firearm. View "United States v. Hammond" on Justia Law

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A federal grand jury returned a six-count indictment against defendant-appellant Samuel Silva, charging him with: (1) attempted carjacking; (2) knowingly using and carrying a firearm in furtherance of the attempted carjacking; (3) carjacking; (4) knowingly using and carrying a firearm in furtherance of a carjacking, (5) knowingly possessing a firearm and ammunition; and (6) possessing firearms as a convicted felon. Silva appealed his ultimate convictions, arguing: (1) the district court erred by allowing the prosecution to present evidence of a previous felony conviction to support the charge of his being a felon in possession of a firearm; (2) the evidence was insufficient to convict him of being a felon in possession of a firearm; and (3) The district court plainly erred by admitting testimony from a DNA expert who had made typographical errors in the course of performing her DNA analysis. Finding no reversible error, the Tenth Circuit affirmed Silva’s convictions. View "United States v. Silva" on Justia Law

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Defendant-Appellant Clifford Raymond Salas was found guilty of various arson-related offenses, after he used a Molotov cocktail to firebomb a tattoo parlor. For his offenses, Salas was sentenced to a total of 35 years’ imprisonment: 5 years for counts 1, 2, and 4 and, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 924(c)(1)(B)(ii)’s mandatory minimum sentence, 30 years for count 3. He was also sentenced to 3 years’ supervised release. He appealed the sentence, arguing that section 924(c)(3)’s residual clause was unconstitutionally vague. The Tenth Circuit agreed, remanding this case to the district court with instructions to vacate Salas’s 924(c)(1) conviction and resentence him because 924(c)(3)(B), the provision defining a “crime of violence” for the purposes of his conviction, was unconstitutionally vague. View "United States v. Salas" on Justia Law

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This appeal stemmed from Raymond Hamilton’s sentencing for possession of a firearm after a felony conviction. Hamilton was sentenced to 190 months’ imprisonment under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA) based in part on three Oklahoma convictions for second-degree burglary. Hamilton moved to vacate his sentence under 28 U.S.C. 2255, arguing that the district court had improperly applied a mandatory minimum based on the ACCA’s unconstitutional Residual Clause. The district court granted the motion and resentenced Hamilton to time served. The government appealed, but finding no reversible error, the Tenth Circuit affirmed. View "United States v. Hamilton" on Justia Law

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Edward McCranie pleaded guilty to federal bank robbery. The presentence report (PSR) treated that conviction as a crime of violence under U.S. Sentencing Guidelines (U.S.S.G.) Manual section 4B1.2(a)(1), as it also did for McCranie’s earlier convictions for federal bank robbery. With these predicate convictions, McCranie qualified as a career offender under U.S.S.G. The issue this case presented for the Tenth Circuit’s review was whether a conviction for federal bank robbery categorically qualified as a crime of violence under the elements clause of the career-offender sentencing guideline. The Tenth Circuit concluded that it did. View "United States v. McCranie" on Justia Law

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One of the conditions of supervised release for Defendant Isiah Adams was that he comply with the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), 34 U.S.C. §§ 20911–20932. The district court found that Defendant, who was homeless at the time, had violated that condition by failing to update his SORNA registration within three days of changing his residence to Tulsa. He challenged the court’s finding, arguing on appeal that the government offered no evidence that he had established his residence in Tulsa for SORNA purposes by residing there for 30 days or more. After review, the Tenth Circuit held there was sufficient evidence and affirmed. View "United States v. Adams" on Justia Law

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Mariano Moya and Lonnie Petry were arrested based on outstanding warrants and detained in a county jail for 30 days or more prior to their arraignments. These arraignment delays violated New Mexico law, which required arraignment of a defendant within 15 days of arrest. Both men sued under 42 U.S.C. 1983 for deprivation of due process. The district court granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss for failure to state a valid claim. The Tenth Circuit affirmed because Moya and Petry failed to plausibly allege a factual basis for liability. View "Moya v. Garcia" on Justia Law