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United States v. Antonio Walter and Kenneth Bell, 7th Circuit, filed 8/29/17: REVERSAL based on Brady Violation

September 19th, 2017
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

You have to love an opinion that starts off like this:

            The Supreme Court's decision in Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), might seem a bit strange to someone who thought that the adversary system in criminal cases allows each side to adopt a "no holds barred"

State v. Trenton Malik Barnes, filed 8/16/17, South Carolina Court of Appeals: Serious Issues Can Arise When Co-defendants Are Tried Together.

September 18th, 2017
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

This was a terrible crime, and it's hard to believe that fact didn't enter into the Court's rulings to find errors "harmless" in this case. The Court states that the evidence in this case was overwhelming as to Barnes's guilt and points to three pieces of evidence:  1) Barnes's letter to his mother confessing to the crime, 2) his mother's identification of him as the person wearing the gray sweatshirt in the surveillance video, and 3) the timeli

United States v. Ayika, 5th Cir. filed 9/14/16: Asset Forfeiture When Monies, Legitimate and Illegitimate, are Commingled, When Can the Government Seize Substitute Assets?

September 11th, 2017
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

Ayika was indicted for, and then convicted of heath care fraud. There were two cases against him. The first case, judging from the opinion, looks like a pill-mill case. He was tried before a jury and then convicted. On that same day, he pleaded guilty to the second set of charges. He appealed both sets of charges, and the guilty plea in the fraud case was vacated and remanded for jury trial. Then, he had this second trial before a jury and was co

US v. Dupree, Lewis et al, 2nd Cir., filed August Term: Failure of Indictment to Allege Drug Quantity, Admissibility of Other Bad Act Evidence.

September 7th, 2017
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

Not a very helpful case for defendants charged with serious drug trafficking conspiracies, but important to know nonetheless. This case involved a long-running drug conspiracy that resulted in the death of a co-conspirator back in 1994.  The main issues on appeal are the failure to allege drug quantity in the indictment, and admissibility of another drug conspiracy that occurred in Maryland some years before these events. Defendants were char

US v. Griffith, Cir. D.C., filed August 18, 2017: Exceptionally Strong 4th Amendment Opinion; Great News for Privacy and Electronic Devices

September 5th, 2017
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

This is an exceptional opinion on an issue of ever-expanding importance, the protections afforded to electronic devices while law enforcement investigates violent crime.  Here, Griffith was a suspect in a homicide.  He went to jail on unrelated charges.  When he was released, 10 months later, he moved in with his girlfriend.  While in jail, he made a couple of phone calls to an associate that showed that he realized he was under investigation

Tanner v. Yukins, 6th Cir., filed 8/15/17: Habeas WIN on a sufficiency of the evidence claim.

August 29th, 2017
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

I feel like I've seen a unicorn.  Wins like this are so extraordinarily rare that they're definitely worth studying.   Initially, Tanner raised two claims in her habeas petition:  1) the Michigan Supreme Court unreasonably applied Ake v. Oklahoma, 470 U.S. 68, 105 S. Ct. 1087 (1985) when it denied her lawyers funding for a serology or DNA expert and that the district court erred in upholding the Court's application of Ake, a

State v. Stanley Lamar Wrapp, S.C. Ct. App., filed 8/17/17: REVERSAL Due to Lack of Notice that Trial Would Be Held in Absentia

August 23rd, 2017
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

An excellent and fair opinion from the Court of Appeals on an issue that, for whatever reason, never goes away.  Here, Wrapp was arrested and charged with drugs and driving under suspension.  The State just never really got around to calling the case for trial because apparently, even in light of Langford, the Solicitors are still controlling the docket system and they just didn't feel like it.  It's hard to imagine that a case of thi

United States v. Chamberlain (4th Cir., 8/18/17) Fourth Circuit Abrogates Rule Allowing Forfeiture of Substitute Assets Pre-trial.

August 22nd, 2017
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

A very good and well-reasoned opinion on this important issue.  The full panel (en banc) abrogated its unique rule that permitted the pre-trial restraint of substitute assets (unlike other circuits).  Both the government and the defense now agree that such forfeiture is contrary to the United States Supreme Court's recent opinion, Luis v. United States, 136 S. Ct. 1083 (2016). The defendant in this case was serving overseas

Renwick Mose v. State of SC, SCSCt, filed 8/16/17: Equitable Tolling of Statute of Limitations for Inmates Who Rely on Prison Mail System

August 16th, 2017
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

An excellent and eminently fair outcome in this South Carolina Supreme Court case, especially given the total wreck that is the South Carolina Department of Corrections these days.  Mose tried to file his PCR application on-time; that is, before the one- year statute of limitations expired. As an inmate, he had to rely on the SCDC mail system.  For some reason, it took nearly a month for his application to make it to the Clerk of Court's office

US v. Hemza Lefsih, 4th Cir., filed 8/14/17: Improper Judicial Comments Results in Reversal of Immigration Fraud Conviction

August 15th, 2017
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

Holy cow, what a case.  Lefsih is an Algerian native who entered the country through the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, a well-known program to many Americans, but not to this federal judge apparently.  The Government alleged that Lefsih committed federal crimes when he failed to identify some traffic citations on his immigration forms. Lefsih's very compelling defense was that he did not realize that traffic citations were crimes that neede

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United States v. Antonio Walte...
September 19th, 2017

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United States v. Ayika, 5th Ci...
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US v. Dupree, Lewis et al, 2nd...
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