Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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The Eleventh Circuit granted respondents' motion to dismiss this appeal as moot and vacated the prior published opinion. In this case, petitioner was removed from the United States and was no longer detained in immigration custody. Both sides agree that the appeal has become moot. View "Sopo v. U.S. Attorney General" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed defendant's convictions for the use of an unauthorized access device and aggravated identity theft. The court held that the district court abused its discretion by excluding lay identification testimony from a defense witness while admitting similar testimony from a government witness, but the error was harmless because the defense presented identification testimony from other witnesses. View "United States v. Knowles" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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After police officers interrupt what they reasonably believe to be a residential burglary and detain two suspects just outside of the house, they can thereafter lawfully enter the home—without a warrant, and without further suspicion of wrongdoing—to briefly search for additional perpetrators and potential victims. The Eleventh Circuit held that the suspected burglary presented an exigent circumstance that justified a warrantless entry and search. Accordingly, the officers in this case did not violate the Fourth Amendment, and the court reversed the district court's denial of summary judgment and remanded with instructions to grant the officers' motion for summary judgment. View "Montanez v. Carvajal" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The State Executive Clemency Board appealed the district court's orders in favor of appellees James Michael Hand and eight other convicted felons who have completed their sentences and sought to regain their voting rights in Florida. The Eleventh Circuit held that the State Executive Clemency Board has made a sufficient showing under Nken v. Holder, 556 U.S. 418, 426 (2009), to warrant a stay. The court explained that the Fourteenth Amendment expressly empowered the states to abridge a convicted felon's right to vote; binding precedent held that the Governor had broad discretion to grant and deny clemency, even when the applicable regime lacked any standards; and, although a reenfranchisement scheme could violate equal protection if it had both the purpose and effect of invidious discrimination, appellees have not alleged -- let alone established as undisputed facts -- that Florida's scheme has a discriminatory purpose or effect. View "Hand v. Scott" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of a writ of habeas corpus vacating his convictions pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 2254. The court held that petitioner was not denied due process or access to the courts because he was unable—due to the unavailability of a transcript of his criminal trial—to prove in collaterally attacking his convictions that his trial attorneys rendered ineffective assistance of counsel in violation of his Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The court held that the state court's decision affirming the collateral-attack court's denial of relief was not contrary to, nor involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established United States Supreme Court precedent. View "Bush v. Secretary, Florida Department of Corrections" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of a 28 U.S.C. 2254 petition for writ of habeas corpus. The court held that federal habeas relief was not warranted on petitioner's claim that his Sixth Amendment right to self-representation was violated under Faretta v. California, 422 U.S. 806 (1975). The court held that there was no basis to conclude that the Florida Supreme Court's denial of petitioner's Sixth Amendment self-representation claim was either contrary to or an unreasonable application of Supreme Court precedent, or that it resulted from an unreasonable determination of the facts. View "Barnes v. Secretary, Department of Corrections" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed Defendant Whitman's conviction and Defendant McCarty's sentence for convictions of bribery, wire fraud, theft, and obstruction involving government contracts. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion when it refused to give a lesser-included-offense instruction on giving illegal gratuities. The court also held that the district court did not clearly err when it calculated McCarty's sentencing guidelines range using the loss amount caused by all participants in the jointly undertaken criminal scheme. View "United States v. Whitman" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Plaintiff, a Florida prisoner proceeding pro se, appealed the district court's grant of a motion to dismiss his civil rights complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 114 S. Ct. 2364 (1994). The Eleventh Circuit vacated the judgment, holding that the action was not barred by Heck. In this case, plaintiff was punished and lost gain time, but his 42 U.S.C. 1983 suit, if successful, would not necessarily imply that his punishment was invalid. The court explained that, because success in this section 1983 suit would not necessarily be "logically contradictory" with the underlying punishment, the suit was not barred by Heck. Therefore, the district court erred in concluding otherwise. View "Dixon v. Pollock" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed defendant's convictions and sentence for crimes related to a multi-state tax fraud scheme using Indigent Inmate, a prisoner "charity" defendant founded and financed. The court held that the district court did not err when it admitted evidence seized from defendant's clothing as well as his post-arrest statements; the district court did not abuse its discretion when it admitted evidence of uncharged conduct and photographs of defendant and another individual with large sums of money; the district court did not violate defendant's right not to wear jail clothes; the district court did not err when it gave the jury a Pinkerton jury instruction; sufficient evidence supported defendant's convictions; and the district court did not err when it calculated defendant's sentencing guidelines range, nor did it impose a substantively unreasonable sentence. View "United States v. Shabazz" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of a 28 U.S.C. 2241 petition, but on different grounds. Petitioner was convicted of murdering Eleventh Circuit Judge Robert Vance and sentenced to death. The court held that petitioner had Article III standing to challenge Alabama's exercise of custody given his previously-imposed federal sentences, and that his second claim did not constitute an unauthorized second or successive section 2254 petition. The court held, however, that petitioner's claims failed on the merits. The court's own precedent foreclosed petitioner's substantive assertion that the Alabama execution could not be carried out until the federal sentences of life imprisonment were complete. View "Moody v. Warden Holman CF" on Justia Law