Criminal Law & Procedure
Alleyne v. US
Defendant's sentence for using or carrying a firearm in relation to a crime of violence that included an increased penalty for "brandishing a weapon" based on the sentencing judge's finding of brandishing, is vacated and remanded, where: 1) because mandatory minimum sentences increase the penalty for a crime, any fact that increases the mandatory minimum is an "element" that must be submitted to the jury; and 2) here, the sentencing range supported by the jury's verdict was five years' imprisonment to life, but the judge, rather than the jury, found brandishing, and this increased the penalty to which defendant was subjected and violated his Sixth Amendment rights.
US v. Gillenwater
The district court's order finding that defendant was incompetent to stand trial is vacated and remanded, where: 1) a defendant has a constitutional and statutory right to testify at his pretrial competency hearing; 2) only the defendant, not counsel, can waive the constitutional right to testify; 3) the district court has an obligation to admonish a defendant that his disruptive conduct may result in his removal from the courtroom and waiver of his right to testify; and 4) the denial of the defendant's right to testify was not harmless because the panel did not know to what the defendant may have testified.
US v. Ihenacho
Defendants' convictions and sentences for dispensing and shipping drugs to customers pursuant to invalid online prescriptions for Internet pharmacy operations, and related charges, are affirmed, where: 1) as to defendant Baldwin Ihenacho, the district court did not err in its calculation of the loss caused by his offenses, which it used to determine his sentencing guidelines range; and 2) as to defendant Gladys Ihenacho, there was sufficient evidence to support her convictions, including that that she knew her pharmacy was dispensing drugs pursuant to invalid prescriptions.
Salinas v. Texas
Defendant's murder conviction is affirmed, where: 1) without being placed in custody or receiving Miranda warnings, defendant voluntarily answered the questions of a police officer who was investigating a murder; 2) defendant remained silent when asked by the officer whether a ballistics test would show that the shell casings found at the crime scene would match petitioner's shotgun; and 3) at trial prosecutors argued that his reaction to the officer's question suggested that he was guilty. A plurality found that petitioner's Fifth Amendment claim fails because he did not expressly invoke the privilege against self-incrimination in response to the officer's question.
Aleman v. Uribe
The district court's denial of defendants' habeas corpus petitions claiming that the prosecutor's peremptory challenge to a Hispanic juror was motivated by racial bias, is affirmed, where a state court does not violate a defendant's constitutional rights by denying a Batson motion based on a prosecutor's credible explanation that he or she made an honest mistake in exercising a peremptory challenge to dismiss the wrong juror.
US v. Van Bommel Duyzing
Dismissal of a claim against the government for money recovered by the U.S. Coast Guard that was tossed into the Caribbean Sea while claimant and his crew were fleeing the U.S. Coast Guard, is: 1) affirmed in part, where claimant did not have the requisite ownership interest in the $8 million needed to establish standing in a forfeiture action; but 2) reversed in part, where claimant presented enough evidence to demonstrate constitutional standing to contest the forfeiture of the $10,000 found on his person.
City of San Diego v. Boggess
The trial court's order for the seizure and destruction of defendant's firearms following a petition filed under Welfare and Institutions Code section 8102 after her release from a facility at which she was detained for psychiatric evaluation under section 5150, is affirmed, where: 1) the trial court properly concluded that plaintiffs demonstrated that the return of the firearms to defendant would be likely to result in endangering defendant, or others, and they should not be returned to her, but forfeited and destroyed; and 2) section 8102 does not violate the Second or Fourteenth Amendment right to bear arms.
US v. Mancuso
Convictions and sentence for possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, distribution of cocaine, and two counts of maintaining a drug-involved premises are: 1) affirmed in part as to the possession charge where defendant's multiple challenges are rejected; 2) vacated in part, the distribution count because it was duplicitous in that it joined two or more distinct and separate offenses into a single count; 3) vacated in part as to the convictions for maintaining a drug-involved premises because the district court committed plain error by utilizing a "significant purpose” instruction rather than a "primary or principal use" instruction; and 4) affirmed in part, where the district court did not err in its drug quantity calculation or its determination that defendant did not qualify for a minor role reduction. On the government's cross-appeal, the district court erred in denying the government's forfeiture motion, because the district court's failure to inquire, before the jury began deliberating, whether either party requested a jury determination on the nexus between the property sought and the crime was harmless.
US v. 4219 University Drive, Fairfax
Judgment that defendant properties owned by claimants were subject to civil forfeiture because the property derived from the proceeds of a health care fraud and money laundering scheme committed by claimants' son is affirmed, where the district court did not err in: 1) denying claimants' motion to dismiss; 2) denying claimants' motions to permit a witness and their son to testify remotely; 3) admitting their son's hearsay statements yet prohibiting the admission of their son's affidavit and letter to his attorney; 4) failing to give claimants' requested jury instructions; and 5) denying claimants' Rule 50 motion for judgment as a matter of law.
US v. Walsh
Denial of criminal defendant's motion to release assets frozen in a parallel civil enforcement action is affirmed where the District Court properly applied the tracing analysis in US v. Banco Cafetero Panama.
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