Elizabeth Franklin-Best

Appellate lawyer

Elizabeth Franklin-Best, a criminal appellate lawyer seeking freedom for her clients.  Focused exclusively on criminal appeals in both state and federal courts.


US v. Burke (11th Cir, filed 7/19/17): Circuit split– When federal sentence is vacated, what constitutes “prior sentence”?

August 4th, 2017
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

The Eleventh Circuit, in this opinion, notes a circuit split between the First Circuit Court of Appeals, and the Eighth and Ninth Circuits.  The issue is this:  What constitutes a "prior sentence" when a federal sentence is vacated, a new sentencing proceeding is ordered, and there are additional sentences that were imposed from the time of the initial sentencing and the re-sentencing? Here is how it all played out in this case: October 2

US v. Carmen Johnson, _Fed. Appx. _ (2017), 2017 WL 1226100: Asset Forfeiture and Its (Unconstitutional) Impact on Choice of Counsel

August 1st, 2017
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

Although this case is unpublished, I’m focusing on it for a couple of reasons.  First of all, the counsel of record, Andrew Greenlee, has filed a cert petition in the US Supreme Court where the High Court has recently indicated it has some interest in these issues. And secondly, these forfeiture cases are incredibly i

US v. Christopher James Gill (11th Cir., 7/27/17): The Difference a Gun Can Make. Enhancement for Possession of Multiple Guns.

July 31st, 2017
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

In this criminal appeal, Gill challenges the district court’s determination that he was in possession of 8 unlawful firearms, instead of 7.  He was charged with felon in possession of a firearm pursuant to USC §922(g)(1).  Under the Guidelines, that offense is enhanced based on the actual number of firearms possessed.  If the offense involves possession of 8-24 firearms, then the offense level is enhanced by 4 levels.  If the offense invol

State v. Kareem Harry, S. C. S. Ct., filed 7/19/17: An Important Case on the “Hand of One, Hand of All” accessory liability; Robust Dissent by Justice Hearn, joined by Chief Justice Beatty.

July 26th, 2017
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

In its opinion, the South Carolina Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals' decision in this case.  This opinion, however, has a robust dissent by Justice Hearn, and joined by Chief Justice Beatty.  At issue is the evidence sufficient for the jury to be charged with accessory liability (or, "hand of one, hand of all"). The facts are pretty simple-- Harry owned a television that his on-again-off-again girlfriend sold to some guy she had a

United States v. All Funds…Erick Silva Santos, Claimant, 5th Cir. 7/19/17: Asset Forfeiture, International Law, and Crime. Also, Fugitive Disenfranchisement Doctrine.

July 25th, 2017
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

Here is another very interesting asset forfeiture case because it involves the US Government essentially seizing assets from a foreign national for crimes committed in another country which that country did not find it necessary to investigate or prosecute.  Here, Silva is being punished, really, for failing to appear in American courts to defend himself against crimes that our government alleges he committed in our jurisdiction. Here’s wha

US v. Arthur Lange, 11th Cir, filed 7/17/17: Sentence Manipulation

July 24th, 2017
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

I chose to focus on this case because this is an issue that I’ve seen arise in other contexts as well.  For example, in SC, a defendant can be charged with trafficking say, cocaine, if he attempts to purchase more than 28 grams of the substance.  Any less, and he cannot be charged with that offense.  And trafficking cocaine carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years, so this is a serious issue.  So, what I’ve seen is that a law enfo

US v. Seventeen thousand-nine hundred dollars ($17,900) in United States Currency (D.C.C. Case No. 15-cv-00368 (CRC): OUTRAGEOUS Asset Forfeiture

July 18th, 2017
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

I got the head’s up about this case from Kevin Williamson of the National Review, Civil Asset Forfeiture: Where Due Process Goes to Die, June 25, 2017, and had to read it myself. This is the sort of thing that makes normal, law-abiding citizens mad as hell. Essentially, this kid leaves his backpack on an Amtrak train and someone els

US v. Terry Pierre Louis, (11th Cir., filed 7/10/17) REVERSAL on sufficiency of the evidence claim; Rejection of Entrustment Theory.

July 17th, 2017
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

An exceedingly rare win on a sufficiency of the evidence claim, but it's so heartening to see that the appellate courts are diligently assessing these cases:

The burden is on the government to prove all elements of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt.  See In re Winship, 397 U.S. 358, 364, 90 S. Ct. 1068, 1072 (1970).  When a man's liberty is at stake, we must be vigilant with this burden.  The government failed to offer ev

US v. Miguel Delacruz, 2nd Cir., 7/5/17: Another Important Sentencing Opinion out of the 2nd Circuit; Reversal of Denial of Credit for Acceptance of Responsibility

July 6th, 2017
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

The Second Circuit just released its second very important federal sentencing opinion in the past week.  See US v. Scarpa, Jr. (2nd Cir, 6/22/17) (reversal of substantial assistance reduction granted by sentencing judge). Because I'm about to go on vacation and am feeling a bit lazy, I'll cut to the chase-- Delacruz was involved in a planned robbery of who he thought were drug dealers (but were actually government snitches).  He had a

US v. Mondragon (4th Cir., 6/21/17) Second Federal Gun Enhancement Case this Month; 4th Circuit Clarifying Law Surrounding Gun Enhancements.

July 5th, 2017
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

The Fourth Circuit appears interested these days in clarifying the rules surrounding gun enhancements in the context of federal drug trafficking conspiracies.  See US v. Bolton, ___ F.3d__, No. 16-4077, 2017 WL 2468720, (4th Cir. June 7, 2017).   Here, Mondragon was convicted of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, and he received a 2 level enhancement provided for by USSG §2D1.1(b)(1).  The court relied on statements by two co