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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence for attempting to carry out a terrorist plot and for possessing a firearm not registered to him. The court held, after careful and thorough review, that all of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), 50 U.S.C. 1801 et seq., statutory requirements were satisfied, that the FISA-derived evidence in this case was legally acquired, and that the FISA surveillance and searches were made in conformity with the FISA Court's order of authorization and approval. Therefore, the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying defendant's motions seeking disclosure of the FISA applications, the FISA Court orders, or any remaining FISA-derived evidence. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying defendant's motion seeking disclosure of the FISA materials; the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying defendant's motion for a mistrial based on the prosecutor's misstatement; and there was no plain error in sentencing defendant where the evidence did not support defendant's allegation that the government introduced the subject of weapons of mass destruction to defendant. View "United States v. Osmakac" on Justia Law

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These appeals arose from the district court's denial of a motion to quash grand jury subpoenas demanding testimony of a criminal defendant's attorney and investigator. The Fourth Circuit found that part of the testimony sought was fact work product that may nonetheless be compelled because it fell under the crime-fraud exception to the work product privilege. However, the government may not ask a general question attempting to reach what the court deemed to be opinion work product. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part and reversed in part. View "Under Seal 1 v. United States" on Justia Law

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The federal criminal forfeiture statute, 21 U.S.C. 853, does not authorize the pretrial restraint of a defendant's innocently-obtained property. Section 853(e) permits the government to obtain a pretrial restraining order over only those assets that are directly subject to forfeiture as property traceable to a charged offense. Consequently, the Fourth Circuit overruled its precedents to the contrary, United States v. McKinney (In re Billman), 915 F.2d 916 (4th Cir. 1990), cert. denied, 500 U.S. 952 (1991), and United States v. Bollin, 264 F.3d 391, 421–22 (4th Cir. 2001), and vacated the district court's order relying on those authorities. View "United States v. Chamberlain" on Justia Law

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Willis and Simmons were convicted of conspiracy to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin and sentenced to 235 months’ and 108 months’ imprisonment, respectively. They appealed, claiming there was an impermissible variance from the indictment and that the jury pool failed to include a fair cross‐section of their community because only one of the 48 members of the venire was black. Simmons also challenged a jury instruction related to the amount of heroin involved in her offense and argued that the court erred in enhancing her sentencing offense level for possession of a gun during the commission of a drug offense. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The defendants cannot show that the underrepresentation of blacks in the jury pool was due to a systematic exclusion of that group. The indictment adequately alleged conspiracy. The evidence that Simmons conspired with Willis to sell 100 grams or more of heroin was overwhelming. The evidence sufficiently established that Simmons constructively possessed the gun given that it was in the closet of the bedroom she shared with Willis and near drugs and drug paraphernalia. View "United States v. Simmons" on Justia Law

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Stinson spent 23 years in jail for a murder he did not commit. No eyewitness testimony or fingerprints connected him to the murder. Two dentists testified as experts that Stinson’s dentition matched the teeth marks on the victim’s body. A jury found Stinson guilty. After DNA evidence helped exonerate Stinson, he filed this civil suit against the lead detective and the dentists alleging that they violated due process by fabricating the expert opinions and failing to disclose their agreement to fabricate. The district court denied the defendants’ motions for summary judgment seeking qualified immunity. The Seventh Circuit dismissed appeals for lack of jurisdiction. The court distinguished between appeals from denials of summary judgment qualified immunity based on evidentiary sufficiency and those “presenting more abstract issues of law.” The appeals failed to take the facts and reasonable inferences from the record in the light most favorable to Stinson and challenge the sufficiency of the evidence on questions of fact, precluding interlocutory review. The court concluded that it had jurisdiction to consider and affirmed the denial of absolute immunity. That denial was correct because Stinson’s claims focus on the defendants’ conduct while the murder was being investigated, not on their trial testimony or trial testimony preparation. View "Stinson v. Johnson" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit denied a petition for review of the BIA's decision, holding that petitioner's California conviction for second degree murder on an aiding and abetting theory qualified as an aggravated felony. The panel explained that the Supreme Court, in 2007, reviewed California's law on aiding and abetting, which like that of many jurisdictions looks to the natural and probable consequences of an act the defendant intended. Gonzalez v. Duenas-Alvarez, 549 U.S. 183, 191–93 (2007). The Supreme Court concluded that absent a showing that the law has been applied in some "special" way, a conviction in California for aiding and abetting a removable offense was also a removable offense. The panel held that California law has not materially changed since Duenas-Alvarez was decided and was not applied in any "special" way in petitioner's case. View "Sales Jr. v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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Sumpter spent a month in the Wayne County Jail in Detroit and underwent four strip searches that she alleges violated her Fourth Amendment rights. Three searches occurred in the jail’s Registry, where inmates are routinely strip-searched when first arriving or returning to jail. Corporal Graham conducted the three Registry searches; no male deputies were present. Each time, Graham escorted plaintiff into the Registry with as many as five other women. The room’s window was covered, preventing anyone outside the Registry from observing the searches. Inside, Graham instructed the inmates to undress and to shake their hair, open their mouths, lift their breasts, and squat and cough, while Graham visually inspected for hidden contraband. The fourth search occurred in plaintiff’s cellblock. After searching the cells for contraband, an unidentified female guard gathered the inmates in the common area and conducted a group strip search. According to plaintiff, the strip search took place in view of the guards’ central command post inside the cellblock, called the “Bubble.” During this search, plaintiff purportedly saw male guards inside the Bubble. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the summary judgment rejection of Sumpter’s purported class action suit. Periodically conducting group strip searches when the number of inmates waiting to be processed makes individual searches imprudent does not violate clearly established Fourth Amendment law. View "Sumpter v. Wayne County" on Justia Law

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The superior court correctly denied Defendant’s motion to suppress. Defendant was pulled over for driving at an unsafe speed given the road conditions and cited for driving while impaired. Defendant filed a motion to suppress, which the superior court ultimately denied. Defendant eventually pleaded guilty to driving while impaired while preserving his right to appeal the denial of his motion to suppress. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the traffic stop was unconstitutional because the police officer who pulled Defendant over did not have reasonable suspicion to do so. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the traffic stop was constitutional because the officer had reasonable suspicion to initiate the traffic stop. View "State v. Johnson" on Justia Law

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Defendant was convicted, after a jury trial, of attempted first-degree rape, first-degree sexual offense with a child, and kidnapping. Defendant appealed, arguing that his motion “for an instruction” was clearly a request for a limiting instruction regarding N.C. R. Evid. 404(b) evidence that had just been presented by the State’s witness. The court of appeals reversed Defendant’s convictions and remanded the matter to the trial court for a new trial. The Supreme Court modified in part the judgment of the court of appeals and affirmed, holding (1) defense counsel’s motion “for an instruction” was plain a request for a Rule 404(b) limiting instruction; and (2) Defendant was prejudiced by the trial court’s failure to give the requested limiting instruction, thus entitling him to a new trial. View "State v. Watts" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit vacated its prior opinion and substituted the following opinion in its place. The court dismissed defendant's appeal of the district court's denial of his motion requesting a judicial recommendation to the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) for placement in a residential reentry center (RRC) 12 months prior to the end of his sentence. The court held that the denial of a request for a judicial recommendation was not a final order subject to appellate review. Therefore, the court lacked jurisdiction over the appeal. View "United States v. Martin" on Justia Law