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.

Category: Federal Sentencing

US v. Scott C. Redman, 7th Cir., filed 4/17/18: Court affirms sentence for fake-doctor who used sophisticated means, recklessly endangered patients in bold, bold fraudulent scheme.

May 3rd, 2018
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

This is, in my opinion, one of the bolder, fraudulent schemes one could undertake, which may explain why it didn’t last very long (just a couple of months!). Mr. Redman dropped out of high school, but that didn’t stop him from applying for, and then getting hired, as a psychiatrist at a Chicago

US v. Taison McCollum, No. 17-4296 (4th Cir., filed 3/20/18): Conspiracy to Commit Murder in Aid of Racketeering Not So Violent-y.

March 23rd, 2018
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

Remand for Re-Sentencing After Categorical Approach Reveals Conspiracy to Commit Murder in Aid of Racketeering is not "Crime of Violence."   So no one is particularly happy about this opinion . . . except Mr. McCollum.  The majority was "reluctant" to vacate the sentence, Judge Traxler's concurrence essentially asks either Congress or the United States Su

US v. Castaneda-Pozo, 11th Cir., filed 12/19/17; Sentencing Issues for Fraud Convictions; Intended Loss and Substantial Financial Hardship

January 2nd, 2018
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

The Eleventh Circuit finds not-entirely-credible testimony of co-defendants sufficient to support making defendant entirely liable for intended loss, and substantial financial hardship applies even when victims don't have to sell their Rolexes.  The appellant in this case, Mr. Castaneda-Pozo appealed two aspects of his sentence.  First, he argued that the district court erred in finding him responsible for the scheme's entir

United States v. Blue, 4th Cir., filed 12/12/17: Vacate and Remand on Sentencing Issue; Judge did not adequately consider Blue’s non-frivolous arguments in favor of downward departure

December 13th, 2017
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

The Fourth Circuit finds sentence procedurally unreasonable when district court did not adequately address a defendant's nonfrivolous arguments that he should receive a downward departure.   Blue pleaded guilty to armed robbery and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence.  Probation prepared its usual presentence report (PSR) and recommended a sentence of 188 to 235 months' imprisonment for the robbery, and a consec

United States v. Pleitez, 5th Cir., filed 11/22/17: Increase in Restitution Award Without the Assistance of Counsel Reversed; Restitution Increase “Critical Stage” of Criminal Proceeding.

November 29th, 2017
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

This is an interesting case addressing the fundamental right to an attorney at all "critical stages" of a trial proceeding. I don't believe I've seen this particular issue arise before, so it caught my attention. This is an immensely important decision for criminal defendants facing mandatory restitution obligations. Pleitez pleaded guilty to a number of charges that re

Burgess v. United States, 11th Cir., filed 11/6/17, Court Vacates §2255 Denial When Judge Sua Sponte Raises Procedural Bar

November 16th, 2017
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

The 11th Circuit holds that Court cannot invoke a procedural bar, on its own accord, to deny a petitioner's claim in a federal post-conviction action. The petitioner here pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering.  As part of this plea agreement, he did what every other defendant is unfairly forced to do-- he waived his right to appeal, which also included his right to collaterally challenge his conviction (except as

United States v. Walton, 7th Cir., filed 11/3/17: Honest Services Fraud, and Enhancements for Sensitive Position and Vulnerable Victims

November 7th, 2017
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

This appeal arises from the conviction of two men who were part of a larger scheme to sell properties owned by the Indianapolis Land Bank to selected non-profits at incredibly low rates, and then resold to private purchasers for profit. Kickbacks ensued. Walton was the manager of the Land Bank, a public agency that was authorized to acquire distressed properties.  Walton’s position gave him the authority to buy and sell the property, with litt

United States v. Palin, 4th Cir., filed 10/30/17: A Case Addressing Materiality in Light of United Health Services, Inc.

October 31st, 2017
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

The Fourth Circuit rejects claim that Universal Health establishes a "new standard of materiality" but finds that even if it did, appellants here lose.   The appellants here, a married couple, Ms. Palin and Mr. Webb, were convicted after a 2-week bench trial of heath care fraud and conspiracy to engage in health care fraud, in violation of 18 USC §§1347 and 1349.  Their central claim on appeal is that the district c

SEC v. Kahlon, 5th Cir., filed 10/16/17: Court Upholds Lower Court’s Penalty of Permanent Injunction from Trading Penny Stocks.

October 23rd, 2017
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

The Court held the Appellants violated SEC regulations by improperly selling and trading penny stocks in Texas, a state with which Appellant had very limited contact. Kahlon was the sole officer, owner, and employee of TJ Management (TJM), a New York limited liability company formed in 2003. In 2005, the company bought 100 acres of vacant property in Texas. That year, Kahlon registered TJM as a foreign limited liability compan

United States v. Skelos, 2nd Cir.,filed 9/26/17: Reversal for Erroneous “Official Acts” Jury Instruction.

October 17th, 2017
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

Applying the United States Supreme Court’s recent decision in McDonnell, the Second Circuit vacates convictions of two co-defendants based on an erroneous “Official Acts” jury instruction. This case reverses the convictions of Dean Skelos, the former Majority Leader of the New York S