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Mourning the Passing of Page Anthony Pate, Legal Giant and Founder of Pate, Johnson & Church

Our firm’s founder, Page Anthony Pate, passed away Sunday, September 11, 2022 in St. Simons Island, Georgia. A memorial service will be conducted at 2pm on Saturday, September 17, 2022 at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church with Father Alan Akridge officiating.

Page Pate was many things to many people—a husband, a father, a son, a mentor, a colleague, a friend, and most prominently, a trial lawyer, one who poured himself into his practice and fought hard for his clients. Above all, he was a true gentleman who embodied service and grace.

Sentencing Commission Releases Comprehensive Report on “Organizational Sentencing Guidelines”

Last month, the U.S. Sentencing Commission published a new report titled “The Organizational Sentencing Guidelines: Thirty Years of Innovation and Influence,” summarizing hte history and development of Chapter 8 of the U.S. Guidelines, which apply to defendant-corporations and other defendant-entities.

Congress Extends Statute of Limitations for PPP and EIDL Loan Fraud Charges to Ten Years

Earlier this month, President Biden signed legislation extending the statute of limitations for federal prosecutions against individuals and businesses accused of fraudulently obtaining COVID-19 relief funds, specifically through the PPP and EIDL loan programs. The PPP and Bank Fraud Enforcement Harmonization Act and the COVID-19 EIDL Fraud Statute of Limitations Act extended the statute of limitations to ten years, up from five years.

Recent Supreme Court Opinions

Ruan v. United States (U.S. Supreme Court, June 2022)

In a 6-3 opinion, the Supreme Court held that the prosecution in a “pill mill” case, where a doctor has been charged with unlawfully prescribing drugs, must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the doctor was acting in a manner not authorized by the statute, i.e. that the doctor knew that their prescribing practices were unauthorized and was not acting in “good faith.” Previously, doctors could be convicted if their prescriptions were not for a legitimate purpose or otherwise not within the usual course of a professional medical practice–a standard resembling negligence.

Concepcion v. United States (U.S. Supreme Court, June 2022)

In a 5-4 opinion, the Supreme Court held that courts considering an inmate’s motion to reduce sentence pursuant to Section 404(b) of the First Step Act, which applies to crack-cocaine convictions, may consider all relevant materials when considering whether to modify, and by how much, the inmate’s sentence. Some legal scholars believe the opinion should help resolve the circuit split regarding what circumstances a court can consider when reviewing an inmate’s motion for “compassionate release.”

Vega v. Tekoh (U.S. Supreme Court, June 2022)

In a 6-3 opinion, the Supreme Court held that an officer’s interrogation in violation of Miranda does not create a constitutional claim under 42 USC 1983. The Court took a narrow view of Miranda warnings as merely a vehicle to protect other underlying rights, not as an underlying right itself.

Recent Circuit Court Opinions

United States v. Soler-Montalvo (1st Cir. August 2022)

The First Circuit vacated a defendant’s conviction for attempted coercion and enticement of a minor. The Court held that the trial court erred in excluding certain expert testimony from a clinical psychologist. While the trial court had allowed the witness to testify as an expert in the field of internet sexual behaviors, it erred in prohibiting the witness from opining on the defendant’s internet chats and whether chats like his met the pattern shown by child predators who communicate with minors online.

United States v. Rivera-Ruiz (1st Cir. August 2022)

The First Circuit vacated the sentence of a former police officer convicted of RICO conspiracy. The Court held that the district court erred in considering the PSR’s mere mentioning of the defendant’s prior administrative complaints, without more to substantiate them, as a basis for an upwards variance from the Guidelines.

United States v. Petties (4th Cir. August 2022)

The Fourth Circuit vacated a defendant’s convictions for committing a crime of violence while failing to register as a sex offender. The Government dismissed other charges against the defendant and allowed him to plead guilty to one charge conditionally so he could appeal whether his underlying kidnapping offense was a “crime of violence,” and after an intervening opinion held that kidnapping isn’t, the Court held that the district court erred in allowing the Government to reinstate the original charges against the defendant since the Government was still bound by its prior plea agreement.

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.

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