In The News
The Marshall Project has published a helpful primer of President-Elect Joe Biden’s Criminal Justice Platform, which, if enacted, would be the most progressive criminal justice agenda in U.S. history. The article focuses on the areas of mandatory minimum sentences, cash bail, the death penalty, eliminating private prisons, and other areas.
Voters in Oregon voted to decriminalize hard drugs like cocaine and heroin while providing significant funding for treatment. Voters in Arizona, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota passed measures reforming marijuana laws, including recreational and medical marijuana.
Government officials and public data indicate there has been a dramatic increase in investigations and prosecutions of “PPP Loan Fraud,” including over 500 investigations and 73 criminal prosecutions. The Wall Street Journal reports in detail how Congress created the program to facilitate quick relief to businesses by allowing business’s to “self-certify” their need for PPP loans, and how the federal government has aggressively pursued businesses they suspect of committing PPP loan fraud by identifying certain business activities as “suspicious.”
Recent Supreme Court Opinions
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In a per curiam opinion, a majority on the Supreme Court vacated a defendant’s death sentence and held that his trial counsel was constitutionally ineffective based on his failure to perform mitigation investigation, putting up mitigating evidence that backfired by bolstering the state’s case, failing to investigate the state’s aggravating evidence, and failing to present significant mitigating evidence that he could have discovered.
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In a patchwork opinion involving a lengthy discussion of stare decisis, a majority of the Court held that the Sixth Amendment right to a unanimous verdict in a criminal prosecution applies to the states through the Fourteenth amendment.
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In a unanimous opinion, the Supreme Court reversed the convictions of the Port Authority officials involved in the infamous “Bridgegate scandal,” holding that their convictions for wire fraud on a federally funded program, predicated on their blocking off certain lanes as political retribution against an opposition mayor, were not supported by sufficient evidence because they did not involve a scheme “to obtain money or property.”
The Federal Docket
The Federal Docket is a monthly newsletter providing lawyers and the community a summary of recent important decisions in the area of federal criminal law from the United States Supreme Court and the Circuit Courts of Appeal. The opinions are compiled, summarized and analyzed by Tom Church, an attorney in our firm’s federal criminal defense practice.