Two bits of news before we get to the short wins:
ABA Blog Nominations
First, this is the last week you can tell the ABA Law Journal what you think about this blog – or any other law-related blog – as they prepare their list of the top 100 law-related blogs in the country (or world, or multiverse).
The link is here and you’ve got to get your stuff in my the end of this week – August 9.
If you like this blog, I’d be grateful if you’d share it with them. If you dislike this blog, please feel free to email me and let me know what you’d like to see done differently.
Second, as you may recall from last week, the Bureau of Prisons is thinking about closing the only federal women’s facility in the Northeast.
This is a huge problem because the farther women are incarcerated from their children, the lower the likelihood that they will actually get to see their children while they are incarcerated. And, hopefully, as a society, we can agree that it’s generally a good thing for kids to see their moms.
There’s a bit of a bright spot – a number of senators have written the Bureau of Prisons to ask them to try to stop the move. As reported in the Hartford Courant and described in Todd Busert’s blog, these 11 senators are trying to make the case that the Northeast needs a federal prison for women.
Here’s to hoping that works.
To the victories!
1. United States v. Esquivel-Rios, Tenth Circuit: Appellant’s car, which bore an out-of-state 30 day registration tag, was stopped after a police officer could not verify the tag with a law enforcement database. During the call to verify the tag, the dispatcher told the officer that these types of tags often don’t show up in the database. At trial, the officer confirmed that he too had never seen this type of tag come up. Drugs were found in appellant’s car. His motions to suppress the drugs were denied. Because the court did not consider the totality of the circumstances in determining whether the stop violated the Fourth Amendment – including the dispatcher’s comment and the officer’s own experience with these tags – the case was remanded for the district court to consider this evidence and to determine whether the officer had reasonable suspicion to stop appellant.
2. United States v. Flores, Ninth Circuit: Appellant was convicted of multiple drug conspiracy offenses and a firearm charge and sentenced to 240 months in prison. The district court applied a two-level enhancement under sentencing guideline § 3B1.4 for the use of a person less than 18 in the conspiracy. Because this enhancement was imposed without a factual basis, appellant’s sentence was vacated and the case remanded for resentencing.
3. United States v. Lira, Ninth Circuit: Appellant was convicted of drug trafficking and using a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense. He was sentenced to 120 months on the firearm charge. At the time, the law provided that the mandatory minimum for the firearm charge increased from five to ten years if the firearm was discharged, which the district court found was the case by a preponderance of the evidence. After sentencing, the law changed: the Supreme Court ruled that facts that increase mandatory minimum sentences must be submitted to the jury and established beyond a reasonable doubt. Because appellant’s 120-month sentence was based on a fact found by the court by a preponderance of the evidence, resentencing was required.