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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.

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James Mathurin had a hard adolescence.

As a seventeen-year old, he went on a five-month crime spree in Miami involving armed robberies and carjackings.

Finally, he was arrested when the police suspected that he had carjacked an Acura. He told the police about how he’d spent the past few months. The state law enforcement authorities investigated and corroborated a lot of what he said.

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David Sklena and Edward Sarvey worked together in the futures pit of the Chicago Board of Trade.

On April 2, 2004, between 7:31 and 7:38 in the morning, the government contends that the two men engaged in a conspiracy to commit commodities and wire fraud.

7776_share_markets.jpgSeven Minutes in April

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Last year, the friendly folks at the ABA Law Journal decided that this was one of the best 100 law-related blogs out there in 2011. I’m grateful and mildly worried about their judgment.

You, on the other hand, are here reading this blog. Which makes me think that you might like it.

If that’s true, then first, thanks very much.

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It’s very fashionable these days for United States Attorney’s Offices to bring large indictments charging many people with involvement in a drug conspiracy.

They almost always get convictions.

381260_conspiracy.jpgYet in the case of United States v. Gaskins, the D.C. Circuit – in an opinion written by a former federal prosecutor – ruled that the United States Attorney’s Office indicted, and a jury convicted, a man for being a part of a drug conspiracy when no reasonable juror could have found that he was involved.