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.
Apologies for posting so sparsely lately. Between covering the end of the Supreme Court term for Above the Law (see posts here or here if you’d like) and this day job as a lawyer, I’ve been remiss in keeping you up to date on what’s what in the circuits.
Today, please find the Short Wins for the last two weeks. My personal favorite is United States v. Huizar-Velazquez because there simply isn’t enough law on criminal importation of wire hangars.
Six new cases from the federal circuits this week. My favorite – a subjective measure, I know – is United States v. Ramirez. Any time a court, even the Ninth Circuit, vacates a drug conspiracy conviction for insufficient evidence it’s worth a read.
Last week I posted about a First Circuit case that raised, I thought, a specter of support for jury nullification. Lots of folks responded to that – it turns out that nullification is a popular topic.
On Twitter, I was directed to this recent opinion out of New Mexico on nullification. If you have time, I highly recommend it. It canvasses the history of nullification as an important part of what our criminal justice system is built on then says, basically, no.
Last week was an active week in the federal appeals courts.
Perhaps most interesting – especially to those who are concerned about the state of our federal public defenders – is the Second Circuit’s opinion in United States v. Barton. There, a federal defender tried to get out of a case but the judge wouldn’t let him out.
On those facts, it turns out that was reversible error.
It’s a scattershot collection of sentencing remands in this week’s short wins.
Also, Happy Belated President’s Day everyone, or, as OPM says, happy Washington’s Birthday:
This holiday is designated as “Washington’s Birthday” in section 6103(a) of title 5 of the United States Code, which is the law that specifies holidays for Federal employees. Though other institutions such as state and local governments and private businesses may use other names, it is our policy to always refer to holidays by the names designated in the law.
The Supreme Court has said that you can never suppress the body of a person accused of a crime – the person’s identity is not able to be kept out of evidence, even if that identity is the result of an unlawful arrest or search.
This is a huge issue in illegal reentry cases. If a person is deported then returns to this crime, that’s illegal reentry. If the person is deported after having been convicted of certain kinds of felonies – whoa buddy, that’s illegal reentry after having been convicted of an aggravated felony.
In light of the Supreme Court’s rule about how you can’t suppress the body of the person accused, many people who handle illegal reentry cases find them massively depressing. If you can’t suppress the person’s identity, even if the knowledge comes from an unlawful search, then you’ve gutted the Fourth Amendment for people accused of illegal reentry.
Who doesn’t love a good Franks hearing? Apparently the district court judge in the Seventh Circuit case of United States v. McMurtrey.
It’s a relatively quiet week in the federal circuit’s for defense victories. A Fourth Amendment win in the Tenth Circuit, a few sentencing remands, and, most exciting (for me) a Franks hearing remand in the Seventh.
To the victories!
It’s a slow week here in the federal circuit courts, at least for people accused of a crime who won their cases – only three cases were reversed in the federal court of appeals in published opinions last week.
Happily, what last week’s opinions lost in quantity they made up in quality.
Judge Posner weighed in on restitution in child porn cases. Always a fun writer to read.