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. Kenneth and Kimberly Horner (11th Circuit, filed 4/13/17), Tax Fraud Convictions Affirmed– What NOT to do this Tax Season.

April 19th, 2017
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

At this time of year, as everyone files tax returns, it's good to keep in mind the kinds of conduct that is illegal. Do not do the things that the Horners have been convicted of doing unless you would like to do a stint in your local federal pen. Here, the Horners had a towing and recovery business in an area outside of Atlanta.  They received a fair amount of cash for its services from its clients. Simply, they did not report these cash paymen

Leonard v. Texas, 580 US__ (2017), Statement of J. Thomas respecting cert denial; Isn’t it Awesome when Liberals and Conservatives Can Come Together for Some Collective Outrage?

April 12th, 2017
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

This cert denial involves civil forfeiture, the practice of law enforcement's simply taking the property of suspected criminals and converting that property (or its proceeds) to their own personal use. In this case, it appears that the cert petition raised a due process challenge for the first time in the petition, and without giving the lower court an opportunity to pass on the claim. For that reason, the Court could not take up the case.  But

US v. Diaz (2013 WL 322243) and US v. Hayes, 948 F.Supp.2d 1009 (2013): Two federal district judges disagree with the Federal Sentencing Guidelines policies regarding drug trafficking sentences.

April 10th, 2017
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

These two important opinions offer thoughtful rebukes to the often draconian sentences imposed in federal court on defendants convicted of drug trafficking offenses. First, Judge John Gleeson of the Eastern District of New York issued this Memorandum Explaining a Policy Disagreement with the Drug Trafficking Offense Guideline. Judge Gleeson was asked to sentence Ysidro Diaz, who was convicted of attempting to sell a kilogram of heroin to an unde

US v. Donald T. Hill (App. No. 15-4639) (4th Cir., filed 3/30/17): Prolonged Detention of Car Stop; Important Dissent by Judge Davis.

March 31st, 2017
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

This is an interesting case addressing law enforcement's prolonging a roadside detention. The short of it is that law enforcement is not particularly obligated to be efficient during a stop as it conducts its duties. Here, law enforcement was patrolling a neighborhood in Richmond, Virginia. They saw a car that slightly exceeded the posted speed limit, and then that car crossed a solid yellow line. They decided to pull the car over.  Time:  6:01

US v. Keith Arthur Vinson, No. 15-4384 (4th Cir., filed 3/24/17) Misdeeds in the Blue Ridge Mountains

March 27th, 2017
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

This case involves a woeful tale of real estate hijinks in the beautiful mountains outside of Hendersonville, NC.  Vinson was indicted and convicted for a number of fraudulent activities he engaged in during his attempt to develop an Arnold Palmer golf course and resort area called Seven Falls.  This was all a very swank affair, with a Founder’s Day promotion at the Biltmore Estate and ribbon cutting for the “fabulous golf academy.” Unfor

United States v. Juan Elias Lara (4th Cir, 3/14/17): Psychotherapist-Patient Priv and 5th Amendment Protections in Interviews with Supervision Agents

March 17th, 2017
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

This case raises an important issue-- the extent to which statements made to a supervisory government agent (like a probation agent, or as in this case, a sex offender treatment program provider) can remain confidential.  Not good news for the more criminal-defense minded among us. Lara was convicted in Virginia state court for a sex assault.  He was sentenced to 20 years, with 17 years suspended and a term of 20 years of probation (!).  As a

US v. Saundra Lucille White (4th Cir. Filed 3/9/17): Franks Hearings and Sentencing Enhancements for Misrep’s to the Government and Sophistication

March 13th, 2017
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

In the world of white-collar crime, this is quite the scam. Ms. White is convicted of numerous counts of various kinds of fraud in connection with her impersonating and then swindling an invalid woman from her assets. This case is not particularly sympathetic, and she sought a trial. One of her claims involves her entitlement to a Franks v. Delaware hearing[1]. When the first witness took the stand (a

People v. Scott Evans Dekraai, 5 Cal. App. 5th 1110 (2016), When Prosecutors Have a Conflict of Interest Due to Their Loyalty to Law Enforcement

March 9th, 2017
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

This is an extraordinary opinion in an extraordinary case. Although the events of this case arise in Orange County, California, it's still highly relevant to our practice on this side of the country because of the willingness of prosecutors here to use snitches and informants with (as far as I can tell) no oversight.  There's really nothing to keep this kind of scandal from happening in our neck of the woods. But more broadly, this offers an imp

USA v. Erik Lindsey Hughes (11th Cir. 2017) What is the SCOTUS holding when the Court splits?

March 7th, 2017
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

Against a federal plea agreement backdrop, this case is interesting because it addresses how to apply United States Supreme Court precedent when the Court's opinion is split. Hughes was indicted for several offenses and, after negotiations with the Government, he entered a plea agreement that gave him a prison sentence below the federal sentencing guidelines. Given his charges, the sentencing range was 188- 235 months. He received a sentence of 1

Salman v. United States, 580 U.S.__ (2016) Insider Trading, What Does the Tipper Have to Get for it to be Criminal?

March 3rd, 2017
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

Short answer:  Nothing. Longer answer:  Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10(b)(5) prohibit undisclosed trading on inside corporate information by individuals who are under a duty of trust and confidence ("fiduciary duty") that prohibits them from secretly using that information for personal advantage. This is typically called "insider trading." If someone does this, they are subject to criminal and civil liability.