Articles Tagged with “Revocation of Supervised Release”

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United States v. Pough, No. 15-1762 (3d Cir. Jan. 22, 2016) (unpublished)

This non-precedential Third Circuit decision reminds district courts that confessing that you were coerced into confessing something is not the same as confessing that you did what you confessed to doing.  Got that?  The facts may help.  Pough (who was already on federal supervised release) confessed to being a getaway driver in a murder-for-hire.  In a state court prosecution he moved to suppress the confession.  At the suppression hearing he testified about the contents of the confession; loosely, “yes, I confessed to being the getaway driver.”  The state court suppressed the confession as coerced and the state withdrew the charges.

Not one to let these things go, however, the federal government tried to revoke Pough’s supervised release.  The district court interpreted Pough’s testimony at the suppression hearing as an admission that he committed the conduct to which he had confessed, and found a violation.  The court took pains to note that it had “rel[ied] solely on” Pough’s testimony in support of suppression.  It probably did so in the hope of avoiding the thorny question of whether a coerced confession is admissible in a federal revocation proceeding – but in the process it earned a reversal.  Reviewing the transcript, the circuit held the district court’s interpretation clearly erroneous, noting the difference between admitting to having confessed to conduct and actually confessing to the conduct.

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It is rare and wonderful to see an entrapment opinion. And United States v. Kopstein fits the bill.

To the victories!

1155650_berlin_siegessule.jpg1. United States v. Kopstein, Second Circuit: Appellant was convicted by a jury of transporting and shipping child pornography. During trial, Appellant’s sole defense was entrapment. The conviction was vacated and the case remanded because the jury instruction on entrapment failed to consistently and adequately guide the jury. Here, a jury instruction on the lesser-included offense of possession would allow the jury to return a verdict of guilty on the transporting and shipping charge, even if the jury found Appellant not guilty of possession. This was confusing because it would allow the jury to render a verdict of guilty on the greater offense even if the prosecution had failed to prove a necessary part of its case (the lesser offense).

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