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Dec 19, 2019

Criminal – Sentencing court failed to advise defendant of right to appeal

Where the defendant filed his appeal 283 days after the entry of judgment, the district court’s failure to advise him of his right to appeal at his sentencing did not prevent his appeal from being dismissed as untimely. Background Kirk Marsh pleaded guilty to identity theft and fraud. At sentencing, the district court failed to […]

Dec 12, 2019

Constitutional – Maryland ad disclosure law violates First Amendment

Where a Maryland law requires newspapers and other media platforms to publish certain information about the political ads they carry and retain that information for inspection, the law violates the First Amendment under either strict or exacting scrutiny. Background A Maryland law requires newspapers, among other platforms, to publish on their websites, as well as […]

Dec 12, 2019

Criminal – Prisoner’s rights might have been violated

Where the prison denied an inmate the ability to attend religious services or wear a beard of a certain length as a means of incentivizing him to improve his conduct, it may have violated his rights under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, or RLUIPA, and the First Amendment. Background Alfonza Greenhill, an […]

Dec 12, 2019

Criminal – Carjacking verdict stands

Where the facts showed a defendant convicted of carjacking acted with intent to cause death or serious bodily harm, his attempts to upset his conviction by attacking the jury’s verdict and bringing Fourth and Sixth Amendment challenges failed. Background Following a six-day trial, a jury found Dontae Small guilty of federal carjacking, conspiracy to commit […]

Dec 12, 2019

Arbitration – Dispute over arbitration clauses require trial

Where the Berkeley County School District and parties it has sued disagree about the existence and enforceability of arbitration agreements, there are disputes of material fact that must be resolved at trial. Background The appellants sought arbitration of federal and state claims alleged against them by Berkeley County School District. The district court denied the […]

Dec 12, 2019

Criminal – Firearm in bag would have been discovered

Where the police would have inevitably discovered a firearm in a plastic bag during an inventory search following a lawful arrest of two people whom officers evicted from a hotel room, the defendant’s motion to suppress was denied. Background Police responded to a request from staff at a Hampton, Virginia, hotel to evict Devin Bracey. […]

Dec 12, 2019

Criminal – Lack of sentencing rationale requires remand

Although the government did not challenge as procedurally unreasonable the downward departure of a sentence given to a man who pleaded guilty to assault for repeatedly injuring his infant son, the court was nevertheless required to analyze procedural reasonableness, which it did not. Where there is a significant departure from the advisory sentencing range without […]

Dec 12, 2019

Criminal – Voyeurism is sex offense requiring registration in S.C.

Where a panel for the first time addressed whether a conviction under South Carolina’s voyeurism statute constitutes a “sex offense” requiring registration under Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, it found that a violation of the statute—which does not require physical contact but does require the act to be in furtherance of “arousing or gratifying […]

Dec 5, 2019

Criminal – Government’s ‘procedural ambush’ rejected

Where the government changed its position regarding the standard of review in a letter submitted the day before oral argument, this “eleventh-hour” submission was rejected. In a case of first impression, it was found that the district court had the authority to resentence a defendant serving a term of imprisonment for revocation of supervised release […]

Dec 5, 2019

Criminal – Abuse of discretion standard applied in drug conspiracy case

Although the defendant argued that a de novo standard of review should be applied to the district court’s intrinsic evidence ruling, the appellate court applied an abuse of discretion standard as required by its precedent. Background Defendant Donald Bush appeals from his convictions and sentence for drug conspiracy and related offenses in the District of […]

Dec 5, 2019

Criminal – Error in instructing jury on drug quantity was harmless

Although the district court erred in instructing the jury about the legal principles it was required to apply to determine the methamphetamine quantity attributable to the defendant, any error was harmless because it did not seriously affect the fairness, integrity or public reputation of the judicial proceedings. Background Following a jury trial in the Eastern […]

Dec 5, 2019

Immigration – Appeal dismissed as premature

Where the Board of Immigration Appeals, or BIA, remands a case to the immigration judge for background checks, the court joins the majority of circuits in holding the BIA’s decision is not a final order of removal for purposes of judicial review. Background Petitioner Cyrille Nazaire Kouambo, a citizen of the Central African Republic, or […]

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