Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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The en banc court remanded this appeal to the panel for further proceedings in light of Sessions v. Dimaya, 584 U.S. ___, 138 S. Ct. 1204 (2018), after the initial panel opinion affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's 28 U.S.C. 2255 motion to vacate her 18 U.S.C. 924(c) conviction and sentence for using and carrying a firearm during a crime of violence, namely, attempted carjacking. The panel reinstated its prior ruling in Ovalles I insofar as it held that defendant's attempted carjacking conviction qualifies as a crime of violence under section 924(c)(3)(A)'s elements clause. In this case, defendant had by definition attempted to use or threaten force because she attempted to commit a crime that would be violent if completed. Therefore, given that section 924(c)'s elements clause equates an attempted force with actual or threatened force, and that an attempt conviction requires an intent to commit all elements of the completed crime, attempted carjacking qualifies as a crime of violence under section 924(c)(3)(A) as well. View "Orvalles v. United States" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The question whether a predicate offense constitutes a "crime of violence" within the meaning of 18 U.S.C. 924(c)(3)(B) should be determined using a conduct-based approach that accounts for the actual, real-world facts of the crime's commission, rather than a categorical approach. The Eleventh Circuit held that, to the extent that its decision in United States v. McGuire, 706 F.3d 1333 (11th Cir. 2013), required use of the categorical approach in making the crime-of-violence determination under section 924(c)(3)(B), it is overruled; as interpreted to embody a conduct-based approach, section 924(c)(3)(B) is not unconstitutionally vague; and, in light of the particular circumstances of its commission, defendant's attempted-carjacking offense was a crime of violence within the meaning of section 924(c)(3)(B). Accordingly, the panel remanded for further proceedings. View "Ovalles v. United States" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the partial denial of defendant's motion to dismiss the amended complaint by the estate of Marquette F. Cummings Jr. After Cummings was stabbed by a fellow inmate and subsequently died at the hospital the next day, his estate filed a civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that defendant, a prison warden, violated the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution by illegally interfering with Cummings's end-of-life medical care with deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs. The district court held that defendant was not entitled to qualified immunity. The court held that defendant's alleged actions, including the entry of a do not resuscitate order and the decision to remove plaintiff from artificial life support, did not fall within the scope of his discretionary authority. The court held that Alabama law established that defendant's discretionary authority did not extend to such actions and thus he was not entitled to qualified immunity. Finally, the court lacked jurisdiction to consider whether the amended complaint stated a claim and the court's jurisdiction was exhausted under the collateral order doctrine. View "The Estate of Marquette F. Cummings Jr. v. Davenport" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of a 28 U.S.C. 2254 petition for writ of habeas corpus as untimely. The court held that, for purposes of AEDPA and federal habeas review, the relevant judgment in this case was the 2010 criminal judgment authorizing petitioner's confinement for a period of 25 years in the Florida Department of Corrections. In this case, petitioner's judgment was final under Florida law and the entirety of the state appellate review process was complete when the First District Court of Appeal issued its decision. Therefore, petitioner's judgment was final for purposes of triggering AEDPA’s limitations period on November 6, 2012 and the section 2254 petitioner was untimely because it was filed almost two years later in October 2015. View "Chamblee v. Florida" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of petitioner's 28 U.S.C. 2255 motion for want of jurisdiction. The court held that petitioner's second section 2255 motion was an improper vehicle to contest the denial of his first one because a Johnson v. United States claim was available to petitioner during the time that his first section 2255 motion was pending. View "Randolph v. United States" on Justia Law

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A lawful permanent resident alien who has already been admitted to the United States -- who is not currently seeking admission or readmission -- can, for stop-time purposes, be rendered inadmissible by virtue of a qualifying criminal conviction. The Eleventh Circuit denied a petition for review of the BIA's decision that petitioner was barred from seeking cancellation of removal. The court held that the BIA correctly concluded that petitioner was ineligible for cancellation of removal because the stop-time rule -- triggered when he committed a crime involving moral turpitude in January 1996 -- ended his continuous residence a few months shy of the required seven-year period. View "Barton v. U.S. Attorney General" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit held that the DEA's regulatory definition of "positional isomer" did not unambiguously apply to the use of that term as it pertained to butylone and ethylone in this case. Therefore, the court vacated defendant's conviction of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance where the substance involved was ethylone. The court explained that ethylone constitutes a controlled substance only if it is a "positional isomer" of butylone. View "United States v. Phifer" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Defendants appealed their convictions for conspiracy to commit interstate transportation of stolen property. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the convictions and held that, although the delay between indictment and arrest was the result of the Government's negligence, the delay did not amount to a Sixth Amendment speedy trial violation. Applying the Barker factors, the court held that neither the length of the delay, nor the reason for it, weigh heavily against the Government. In this case, the Government's good-faith attempt to arrest defendants was diligent enough to avoid warranting the extraordinary remedy of dismissing their indictments. Finally, defendants failed to prove actual prejudice. View "United States v. Lazaro Oliva" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Plaintiff filed a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action against a police officer and the city, alleging claims of excessive force. In this case, plaintiff was experiencing an episode of diabetic shock when he lost control of his car, came to a stop at an interstate median, and was tased four times by the officer as he attempted to comply with the officer's orders. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendants' motions to dismiss, holding that the officer was not entitled to qualified immunity at this stage of the case. The court also held that plaintiff, for purposes of summary judgment, established a constitutional violation. Therefore, the district court properly denied the city's motion for summary judgment. View "Glasscox v. City of Argo" on Justia Law

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Defendant appealed his conviction of a federal narcotics conspiracy offense, contending that his trial counsel had a conflict of interest that had an adverse effect on his performance at trial. The Eleventh Circuit held that counsel did have a conflict of interest when he represented a government witness who was then appealing his own sentence after pleading guilty to federal narcotics charges. Although counsel knew that the witness had been found to have obstructed justice in his own criminal case, counsel did not ask the witness about the obstruction scheme at defendant's trial. Therefore, the court remanded for the limited purpose of having the district court conduct an evidentiary hearing on whether counsel's conflict resulted in an adverse effect. View "United States v. Williams" on Justia Law