We have three short but good cases from the circuits from last week. I think my favorite is U.S. v. Glover, a nice suppression case. Congrats to Adam Kurland for the win.
To the victories!
Congress these days seems to have noticed that we have too many federal criminal laws – which is a good thing (the Congressional notice, less the excessive criminal laws).
Last week, the House Judiciary Committee heard testimony on overcriminalization of regulatory crimes. The Hill has a nice write-up in “Regulation horror stories for Halloween.”
Here’s the intro:
I have been remiss in my postings of late. Apologies. Here is, in one place, a mass of cases from the last few weeks.
Due to my own sloth, we’re presenting two weeks of short wins in one post. Here it is!
There are some good cases here, featuring the Armed Career Criminal Act, the Fourth Amendment, and law enforcement agents testifying as experts.
In other news, the Sentencing Commission has put out two “quick fact” sheets. One is on “Theft Property Destruction and Fraud” and the other is on Mandatory Minimum Penalties.pdf. My favorite fun fact – the median loss in federal fraud cases is $95,408.
It’s a sleepy week in the Circuits last week – a resentencing and a restitution remand.
To the victories!
1. United States v. Daniels, et al., Fifth Circuit: Appellants were convicted of conspiring to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine. The finding as to drug quantity was vacated because there was insufficient evidence to support it. Appellants’ sentences were vacated and the case remanded for resentencing for the court to recalculate appellants’ Guidelines range calculations, which were driven by the conspiracy’s vacated five kilogram finding.
On this, the Monday after Labor Day, I suspect many of us have the feeling that work piles up when you leave the office. And, with last week off from Short Wins, that’s definitely what happened here.
Without further ado, to the victories!
1. Miller v. United States, Fourth Circuit: Appellant was convicted of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. For appellant’s two prior convictions (upon which the instant offense was based), he was sentenced to 6 to 8 months for each offense. He filed a 28 U.S.C. § 2255 motion to vacate his sentence, arguing that his prior convictions were not qualifying predicate convictions. The court agreed, vacated appellant’s conviction, and remanded for the petition to be granted.
Due to various case and vacation related reasons, there will be no short wins today.
But, fear not – if you really want to read stuff written by me about federal criminal law, you can read my editorial in Sunday’s Baltimore Sun here about Eric Holder’s proposals to reduce the prison population.
Here’s the punchline:
There are some great cases from the Ninth and Eleventh Circuits this week – especially United States v. Ermoian on obstruction of justice. Good times.
And, of course, the big news of last week was Eric Holder’s recognition that there are a lot of people in federal prison. I’m skeptical that a policy that lets folks with one or two criminal history points avoid a mandatory minimum is going to do much to reduce our prison population, as I told some folks last week, but if the Attorney General is going to pay lip service to an idea, I suppose I’m glad it’s an idea that I agree with.
To the victories!
When you go to a restaurant, you have to pay for the meal – there’s a quid pro quo. But you don’t have to leave a tip (we’re leaving aside situations where you have a large party and they automatically add 18%). A tip you leave because you want to note and appreciate the service you received. Maybe a tip is expected, but a waiter can’t sue you for not leaving one.
So too with bribes, gratutities, and law makers. If a member of Congress makes a deal with you where you’ll give him $10,000 in exchange for voting for your favorite bill, that’s a bribe. But if he votes for your favorite bill and then you send him $10,000 because you’re excited about his vote, that’s a gratuity.
As the Supreme Court has said,