Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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Fla. Stat. 893.13(6)(a), cocaine possession, is divisible by the identity of the drug possessed, permitting the use of the modified categorical approach to determine what substance was involved in a particular offense. The Eleventh Circuit denied the petition for review, holding that the record unambiguously demonstrated that petitioner's conviction involved cocaine, a federally controlled substance under 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(B)(i). View "Guillen v. U.S. Attorney General" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for being a felon in possession of a firearm. The court held that the district court did not abuse its considerable discretion under Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993), in admitting expert testimony concerning DNA evidence directly linking defendant to the firearm. Even if the district court had abused its discretion in allowing the expert testimony, any claimed error would have been harmless. View "United States v. Barton" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Petitioner, a native and citizen of Colombia, petitioned for review of the BIA's decision affirming the IJ's order of removal. The court held that substantial evidence supported the BIA's factual finding regarding petitioner's statute of conviction and the court lacked jurisdiction under Immigration and Nationality Act section 242 to grant him relief. Therefore, the court dismissed the petition for review in part. In regard to petitioner's remaining claims, the court held that DHS was not required to file a cross-appeal to advance its controlled substance argument on appeal to the BIA, and the BIA did not err in considering that argument. Furthermore, petitioner's drug-trafficking crime was an aggravated felony, the BIA did not err in denying petitioner's motion for remand to pursue a section 212(h) waiver, and the court denied petitioner's request for a remand to seek such relief. View "Bula Lopez v. U.S. Attorney General" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Plaintiffs, two death row inmates, served the GDC with a subpoena directing it to testify at a Rule 30(b)(6) deposition and to produce documents concerning Georgia's lethal injection protocol. Plaintiffs planned to use the testimony and documents to support their pending 42 U.S.C. 1983 claims challenging the legality of Mississippi's lethal injection protocol. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of plaintiffs' motion to quash. The court held that the district court applied the correct standard of review to the magistrate judge's ruling on the motion to quash under the "clearly erroneous" or "contrary to law" standard. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by accepting and adopting the magistrate judge's ruling and granting the GDC's motion to quash. View "Jordan v. Georgia Department of Corrections" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eleventh Circuit sua sponte vacated its prior opinion and substituted the following opinion. On direct appeal, defendant challenged his two firearm convictions, claiming that his predicate Hobbs Act robbery and attempted robbery offenses did not constitute crimes of violence under 18 U.S.C. 924(c)(3). The court expressly readopted and reinstated in full Sections I, II, III(A), and III(C) of its panel opinion in St. Hubert I just as previously written. The court again reaffirmed the residual clause in Section III(B), but did so on the basis of its en banc decision in Ovalles v. United States, 905 F.3d 1231 (11th Cir. Oct. 4, 2018). Finally, the panel readopted and reinstated Section IV of its prior panel opinion with some additional analysis. The court held that defendant's guilty plea did not waive his particular claims that Counts 8 and 12 failed to charge an offense at all; sections 924(c)(3)(B)'s risk-of-force clause was constitutional under Ovalles, and defendant's predicate Hobbs Act robbery and attempted Hobbs Act robbery qualified as crimes of violence under section 924(c)(3)(B)'s risk-of-force clause; and, as an independent, alternative ground for affirming defendant's convictions and sentences on Counts 8 and 12, the court concluded that defendant's predicate offenses of Hobbs Act robbery and attempted Hobbs Act robbery categorically qualified as crimes of violence under section 924(c)(3)(A)'s elements clause. View "United States v. St. Hubert" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eleventh Circuit dismissed in part and denied in part petitioner's thirteenth application for leave to file a second or successive motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his federal sentence. The court held that 18 U.S.C. 924(c)(3)(B) is not unconstitutionally vague because it requires a conduct-based approach instead of a categorical approach. The court noted that it has specifically explained, and at length, that this feature of section 924(c)(3)(B) allows it to withstand the reasoning that led the Supreme Court to hold in Johnson v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 2551 (2015), and Sessions v. Dimaya, 138 S. Ct. 1204 (2018), that similarly worded residual clauses in other federal statutes are unconstitutionally vague. View "In re: Tracy Garrett" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of a federal habeas corpus petition because it was time-barred. The court held that the district court did not err by concluding that the statute of limitations began to run when the deadline expired for petitioner to file a certiorari petition in the Georgia Supreme Court, rather than ninety days after the date the Georgia Supreme Court dismissed petitioner's certiorari petition as time-barred. In this case, petitioner's conviction became final for purposes of the Antiterrorism and Death Penalty Act's statute of limitations provision on September 5, 2006. View "Phillips v. Warden" 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 habeas corpus as untimely. The court held that the district court did not err in concluding that petitioner's Rule 3.850 motion was not "properly filed" in the state court and thus did not toll the one-year statute of limitations in the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA). The court explained that Pace v. DiGuglielmo, 544 U.S. 408 (2005), clearly held that when a state court finds a post-conviction motion untimely, that is the end of the matter, and the motion cannot be considered a tolling motion. In this case, Pace was applicable and the state court found the post-conviction motion untimely. View "Jones v. Secretary, Florida Department of Corrections" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by disregarding the Federal Rules of Evidence during a 21 U.S.C. 851 hearing. Under 21 U.S.C. 841(b), defendants convicted of certain drug-related felonies are subjected to a 240-month mandatory minimum if they have previously been convicted of a drug-related felony. A section 851 hearing is required if the existence of the prior conviction is in dispute and the decision to apply the Federal Rules of Evidence during the hearing is left to the discretion of the district court. In this case, the court affirmed the district court's judgment, holding that there was sufficient evidence for the district court to find beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant was previously convicted of possession of cocaine. Furthermore, it was not reasonably probable that the outcome of the proceedings would have changed even if the district court had applied the correct standard. View "United States v. Hernandez" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Second-degree murder in Florida is a "violent felony" within the meaning of the elements clause of the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), 18 U.S.C. 924(e)(2)(B)(i). The Eleventh Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction under the ACCA and held that defendant's contention -- that physical force is not categorically an element of Florida second-degree murder chiefly because poisoning someone does not involve physical force -- was foreclosed by recent precedent in Hylor v. United States, 896 F.3d 1219 (11th Cir. 2018). View "United States v. Jones" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law