United States v. Dodd

Defendant appealed his sentence after pleading guilty to bribing a private correctional officer and to conspiracy. Defendant's conviction stemmed from bribing correctional officers thousands of dollars to smuggle cell phones and tobacco products into the correctional facility where defendant was an inmate. The court concluded that the correctional officers defendant bribed occupied a sensitive position within the meaning of U.S.S.G. 2C1.1(b)(3). Therefore, the court affirmed the district court's application of a four-level enhancement under section 2C1.1(b)(3) after finding that the offense involved a public official in a sensitive position.View "United States v. Dodd" on Justia Law

United States v. Pineda

Defendant appealed his conviction and sentence for drug and possession charges. The court concluded that the evidence was sufficient to convict defendant of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime; the district court did not clearly err in treating defendant's alleged participation in the transaction at issue as "relevant conduct" under U.S.S.G. 1B1.3(a); the district court did not err in applying a two-level enhancement under U.S.S.G. 2K2.1(b)(1)(A) for committing an offense that involved three or more firearms where enhancing a defendant's offense level based on the number of weapons involved in the offense underlying his 18 U.S.C. 924(c) conviction does not constitute impermissible double counting under the Guidelines; and the district court did not err in applying a four-level enhancement under U.S.S.G. 2K2.1(b)(5) on the ground that defendant "engaged in the trafficking of firearms." Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment.View "United States v. Pineda" on Justia Law

Yang v. Holder, Jr.

Petitioner, a native of China, petitioned for review of the BIA's decision affirming the denial of his various applications for relief from deportation. The court granted the petition because of erroneous inadmissibility rulings, which would preclude petitioner from obtaining adjustment of status. Petitioner contended that the BIA erred in affirming the Second IJ's Decision's determination that he is inadmissible under 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(6)(C)(i) for having made willful misrepresentations to procure an immigration benefit; the willful misrepresentation ruling was predicated on the Initial IJ Decision's credibility ruling; the IJ thereby utilized an erroneous legal standard in rendering the willful misrepresentation ruling; and applying the proper legal principles, the willful misrepresentation ruling is not supported by substantial evidence.View "Yang v. Holder, Jr." on Justia Law

United States v. Spinks

Defendant pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute cocaine and cocaine base. On appeal, defendant challenged his sentence, contending that the district court erred in considering any 18 U.S.C. 3553(a) factors other than substantial assistance when determining the extent of his sentence reduction below the mandatory minimum. The court concluded that, following United States v. Hood, the district court correctly concluded that, once it had departed below a mandatory minimum sentence on the basis of a defendant's substantial assistance, it could not further depart based on any non-assistance factor. The court rejected defendant's arguments to the contrary. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment.View "United States v. Spinks" on Justia Law

United States v. Briley

Defendant appealed his conviction under 18 U.S.C. 111 for four counts arising from intimate sexual activities in a national park and ensuing physical altercation with U.S. Park Police officers. The court concluded that it was proper for the district court to instruct the jury that defendant could have committed any of the threshold acts charged - not only "assault" - to be found guilty of a section 111 offense, so long as the other elements of the offense were satisfied. Further, given the overwhelming evidence, the court found no reversible error in the district court's admittance of evidence of a subsequent crime under Federal Rule of Evidence 404(b). Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court.View "United States v. Briley" on Justia Law

Mohamed v. Holder, Jr.

Petitioner, a citizen of Sudan, sought review of the BIA's order of removal based on his conviction of two crimes involving moral turpitude. Petitioner was convicted under state law in 2010 for sexual battery and in 2011 for failing to register as a sex offender. The court did not defer to the BIA's decision in Matter of Tobar-Lobo because the BIA erroneously based its conclusion on the registration statute's purpose and not the nature of a conviction under the statute. The court concluded that, because petitioner's failure to register conviction was not a crime involving moral turpitude, the BIA erred as a matter of law in relying on that conviction as a basis to order petitioner's removal under 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(A)(ii). Accordingly, the court granted the petition for review and reversed the BIA's decision, remanding with instructions.View "Mohamed v. Holder, Jr." on Justia Law

Regis v. Holder, Jr.

Petitioner, a native and citizen of the Philippines, entered the United States on a K-2 visa as the minor child of his mother, but he turned 21 before he applied for an adjust of status to lawful conditional permanent resident. The IJ denied the application because petitioner did not qualify as a minor child under 8 U.S.C. 1255(d) and the BIA affirmed. The court found the BIA's determination of "minor child" status in Matter of Le well-reasoned and concluded that the BIA's analysis embraces the existing statutory and regulatory framework, reaching a result consistent with that framework. The BIA's interpretation of the Immigration and Nationality Act - that a K-2 visa holder seeking adjustment of status must be under 21 at the time of admission - is therefore a permissible construction and is owed Chevron deference. Accordingly, the court denied the petition for review.View "Regis v. Holder, Jr." on Justia Law

United States v. Catone, Jr.

Defendant appealed his conviction, sentence, and the district court's restitution order for one count of making a false statement in connection with his receipt of federal workers' compensation benefits in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1920. The court rejected defendant's Brady v. Maryland claim, that his conviction should be vacated because the government failed to disclose evidence that undermined the government's theory that he willfully concealed certain work he performed, for numerous reasons. The court declined to follow the few decisions in other circuits that view loss amount as a punitive sentencing factor. The court concluded that defendant's felony conviction cannot stand because the jury made no finding that the amount of benefits falsely obtained exceeded $1000 and the court was unable to locate overwhelming evidence in the record to support such a conclusion. The court directed the district court to impose a misdemeanor sentence on remand. The court vacated the sentence and remanded for resentencing where the district court failed to apply the analysis required under United States v. Dawkins, and its loss amount calculation was therefore erroneous. The court also vacated the award of restitution and remanded for recalculation.View "United States v. Catone, Jr." on Justia Law

United States v. Moore

Defendant appealed the district court's denial of his motion to suppress evidence and the sufficiency of the evidence for his conviction of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of drug trafficking in violation of 18 U.S.C. 924(c). The court concluded that the motion to suppress should have been raised prior to trial and, because it was not, it was waived. Further, the evidence was sufficient to support finding a nexus between the drug trafficking and firearms under section 924(c). Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court.View "United States v. Moore" on Justia Law

Duke v. State of North Carolina

After the Supreme Court lifted certain Voting Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. 1973c, restrictions that prevented jurisdictions like North Carolina from passing laws that would deny minorities equal access, North Carolina began pursuing sweeping voting reform with House Bill 589. Plaintiffs and the federal government filed suit against North Carolina, alleging that House Bill 589 violates equal protection provisions of the United States Constitution and the Voting Rights Act and seeking a preliminary injunction. The court concluded that the district court abused its discretion in denying plaintiffs' preliminary injunction and not preventing certain provisions of House Bill 589 from taking effect. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's denial of the preliminary injunction as to House Bill 589's elimination of same-day registration and prohibition on counting out-of-precinct ballots. The court affirmed the district court's denial of plaintiffs' request for a preliminary injunction with respect to the following House Bill 589 provisions: the reduction of early-voting days; the expansion of allowable voter challenges; the elimination of the discretion of county boards of elections to keep the pools open an additional hour on Election Day in "extraordinary circumstances"; the elimination of pre-registration of sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds who will not be eighteen years old by the next general election; and the soft roll-out of voter identification requirements to go into effect in 2016. View "Duke v. State of North Carolina" on Justia Law