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Christopher Spears was no stranger to a fake document. Though at some point, it’s about standards.

Mr. Spears had a thriving business outside of Chicago, in Lake County Indiana, making all kinds of fake identification documents – he made drivers’ licenses, handgun permits, high school diplomas, etc.

He was a bigger diploma mill than Phoenix University.

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Autumn is here. With it comes a crisp feeling in the air, leaves turning, the start of the Supreme Court term on the First Monday in October (for a preview of sorts, please see my guide to bluffing your way through knowledge of the upcoming term), and a slowdown in the pace of published opinions coming from our nation’s federal appellate courts.

Why the slowdown? My suspicion is that as old law clerks leave the service of their appellate judges at the end of August to be replaced by new clerks — much as old leaves fall from trees to make way, eventually, for new buds — the work of the old clerks issues in late August and the work of the new clerks has yet to be rendered in a state fit for publication.

Though perhaps I’m mistaken.

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Perhaps Ramie Marston was confused?

She filed for bankruptcy on her own – without a lawyer.

When you file for bankruptcy, you have to fill out a lot of paperwork. Here, Ms. Marston was asked what other names she’d used in the past.

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Today’s short wins are dominated by federal sex offenses and fraud. It must be something in the water.

As the last few have been, this post contains a number of cases that were decided over the end of the summer.

1155650_berlin_siegessule.jpgVery soon — perhaps even next week — the Short Wins will start to become a recap of all the published federal criminal defense wins from each of the circuits on a weekly basis. So, if you’re an criminal appellate practitioner (on the defense side), our hope is that this will soon be one stop shopping for 28(j) letters.

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Gerard Sasso made some bad decisions.

As humans have for thousands of years, he enjoyed stargazing. He also had an odd habit of collecting laser pointers – perhaps inspired by that scene in the 1985 Val Kilmer film “Real Genius” where a laser leads to an improbably awesome party.

Mr. Sasso’s use of a laser, though, didn’t lead to a super cool party thrown by engineering students – even though it was not far from M.I.T. Instead, it led him to federal prison.

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Sometimes I don’t even recognize the Fourth Circuit anymore. They granted a coram nobis writ in a case based on bad immigration advice in United States v. Akinsade.

The Embezzlement at the Bank

Mr. Akinsade worked at a Chevy Chase bank in 1999. He was nineteen years old and was a lawful permanent resident in the United States – he had come here legally from Nigeria.

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The war on terror[ism] is a massive new problem for society. And, of course, when there’s a massive new problem for society, that ends up being a massive new problem for lawyers.

Despite the debate about whether or not to close the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay – both between Obama when he was a candidate and as President, and in society at large – and the discussion about whether to have civilian or military trials for alleged terrorism suspects, a very real part of the war on terror[ism] has been playing out in our federal courts.

The D.C. Circuit’s opinion from last week in United States v. Mohammed is a nice example.

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Ronda Nixon’s career was on the upswing. She had logged her time as a Mary Kay Cosmetics representative. She had spent time in a job working at a small law firm – first as an assistant and then she worked her way up to bookkeeper and paralegal.

Finally, she was ready to make her move. She left her old jobs behind to go to law school. She was moving on up.

1031341_makeup_kit.jpgUnfortunately, her former boss – Garis Pruit – took ill. While he was recovering from surgery, he received a call from the bank.

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I was lucky last week to be able to get together with a fan of this blog (yes, there are fans of this blog who are not my mother. I’m kind of surprised too.).

The reader I was lucky to meet with had a wonderful suggestion. He saw the point behind not doing a full treatment of each case, as I described earlier.

Yet, he said, I could still do a very quick treatment of each case, even if not every case gets the loving and lengthy discussion that may be the reason folks read this and is the fun behind writing it.

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Giraldo Trujillo-Castillon came to this country from Cuba when he was seventeen.

Like they say, you can take the man out of Cuba, but you can’t take the Cuba out of the man. Or so seemed to believe a federal prosecutor and district court judge.

Mr. Trujillo-Castillon was accused of fraud in federal court.