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: Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals

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. Savage, No. 16-4704 (4th Cir., filed 3/12/18): Interplay of Jencks Act and Brady Material Showings and When District Court Must Hold In Camera Hearing

March 15th, 2018
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

Trial counsel needs to lay a foundation or make 'plausible showing' before Court will gig federal district court for not holding in camera review of government materials. This is a fairly lengthy opinion, but there's one part of it that I want to focus on, which is the showing that counsel must make in order to compel a district court judge to review pote

State v. Justin Johnson, SC Court of Appeals, filed 1/31/18: Court of Appeals Addresses Sympathy Photographs and Cops using Skype.

February 1st, 2018
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

  A particularly brutal double murder ostensibly justifies finding significant errors to be harmless. The opinion details the horrifying and sad details of this double-homicide case.  Warning: one of the victims was a 9-month old boy, the appellant's son.  Because of the facts, the Court could not find its way to finding the significant errors in this case to be prejudicial. First, the State introduced photograph

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

Gray v. Ballard, 4th Cir., filed 2/8/17: When Newly-Discovered DNA Evidence is “Timely” for Tolling under AEDPA. Not Good News for Habeas Petitioners

October 9th, 2017
Elizabeth Franklin-Best

The State's successful suppression of Brady material in connection with a scandal in the West Virginia State Police Crime Laboratory means that Petitioner cannot show "due diligence" in uncovering the factual predicates of his federal habeas claims. This case offers a really tough lesson for habeas petitioners attempting to bring forensic evidence claims into court