Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of a 28 U.S.C. 2254 petition for habeas relief. The court held that it was error for the trial court to give an instruction that had the effect of removing the defense of self-defense from the case, but the error was not fundamental. The court interpreted the Second District Court of Appeal decision rejecting petitioner's ineffective assistance of appellate counsel claim as having been based on the theory that while the forcible felony exception instruction was error, it was not fundamental error and, as a result, the direct appeal court would not have decided that claim on the merits if appellate counsel had raised the claim. In the alternative, the court did not believe that the instruction was fundamental error under Florida law. View "Pinkney v. Secretary, DOC" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit held that the district court engaged in a thorough and comprehensive analysis of the record and acted within its discretion in finding that petitioner was competent to proceed as he saw fit and rationally chose to abandon his federal habeas appeal. Although petitioner's counsel filed a second notice of appeal, petitioner chose to dismiss all appeals, discharge counsel, and proceed with execution. The court could discern no clear error in the district court's determination and affirmed the district court's judgment and dismissal of the appeal. View "Eggers v. Alabama" on Justia Law

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Defendant appealed his 41-month sentence after he pleaded guilty to two federal crimes. The Eleventh Circuit held that where, as here, a defendant has pleaded guilty to a prior crime and adjudication has been withheld, that disposition must be counted for a single criminal-history point under USSG 4A1.1(c), regardless of whether the sentencing court purported to impose—or even actually imposed—198 days or no days of imprisonment. Accordingly, the court vacated defendant's sentence and remanded for resentencing. View "United States v. Baptiste" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Petitioner appealed the district court's order dismissing her motion to vacate, set aside, or correct her sentence, filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 2255. The Eleventh Circuit held that it lacked jurisdiction over the appeal because the district court's dismissal constituted a final order within the meaning of section 2253 and no certificate of appealability had been issued. Accordingly, the court dismissed the appeal without prejudice. View "Jackson v. United States" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eleventh Circuit withdrew its prior opinion and issued this opinion in its place. The court affirmed the district court's denial of petitioner's 28 U.S.C. 2254 habeas petition and held that the state court's denial of his Brady claim was entitled to deference under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 and that the state court's denial was neither an unreasonable determination of the facts nor an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law. View "Rimmer v. Secretary, FL DOC" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction after he pleaded guilty to drug and firearm offenses. The court held that the district court did not clearly err in applying a base offense level of 20 based on defendant's prior conviction of a controlled substance offense; the district court did not err in calculating defendant's criminal history score; the district court did not clearly err by finding that defendant was convicted of selling heroin on school grounds, as well as two other New York convictions; and, even if the district court did err with respect to those New York convictions, any such error was harmless. View "United States v. Luis Alicea" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Alabama's first degree sexual abuse statute, as interpreted by the Alabama Supreme Court, does not necessarily include as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of violent physical force. Defendant appealed his sentence after being convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm. The Eleventh Circuit held that the district court erred in concluding that defendant's prior Alabama conviction for first degree sexual abuse was a violent felony under the Armed Career Criminal Act's, 18 U.S.C. 924(e), elements clause. Accordingly, the court vacated defendant's sentence and remanded for resentencing. View "United States v. Davis" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and his sentence of fifteen years in prison under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), 18 U.S.C. 924(e)(1). The court held that the district court did not err in determining that defendant's two convictions for distribution of cocaine and one conviction for participation in a conspiracy with intent to distribute cocaine qualified as predicate offenses for a sentence enhancement under the ACCA. The court also held that defendant's three remaining arguments —that the district court erred in looking at the dates of his prior convictions because they were "non-elemental facts," that his sentence enhancement violates his Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights, and that his statute of conviction was unconstitutional—were directly foreclosed by Eleventh Circuit and Supreme Court precedent. View "United States v. Longoria" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eleventh Circuit vacated defendant's 60-month sentence, holding that the district court erroneously concluded that it lacked any legal authority to grant an acceptance-of-responsibility reduction under USSG 3E1.1. The court affirmed the district court's increases to defendant's offense level for alteration and falsification of an "especially probative record" under USSG 2J1.2(b)(3)(B), and knowing that the victim of the offense was vulnerable under USSG 3A1.1(b)(1). The court remanded for the district court to decide only the acceptance of responsibility issue and for resentencing. View "United States v. Martinez Mathews" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Defendants appealed the grant of a preliminary injunction in this case. The Eleventh Circuit dismissed the appeal as moot pursuant to Grupo Mexicano de Desarrollo S.A. v. Alliance Bond Fund, Inc., 527 U.S. 308, 315, 119 S. Ct. 1961, 1966 (1999), because the district court issued a permanent injunction and entered final judgment. View "West Alabama Women's Center v. Miller" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law