Eleventh Circuit

The Federal Docket

United States v. Jose Antonio Morales (11th Cir. February 2021)

The Eleventh Circuit affirmed a defendant’s conviction after he challenged a search warrant that led to his arrest and conviction for marijuana distribution and unlawful possession of a firearm. The Court held that, even if the search warrant was not supported by probable cause based on officers finding small quantities of marijuana in the defendant’s trash, the good faith exception applied. The Court also reiterated that a failure to allege the knowledge element for a 922(g) charge under Rehaif does not deprive the district court of subject matter jurisdiction.

Jerome Williams v. United States (11th Cir. January 2021)

The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of the defendant’s 2255 motion based on Johnson where the defendant argued that the caselaw at the time of his sentencing indicated he was more than likely sentenced under the residual clause of the ACCA. The Court disagreed, holding that the legal landscape was ambiguous and that the defendant failed to meet his burden of proving the sentencing court’s reliance on the residual clause.

United States v. Keneon Fitzroy Isaac (11th Cir. February 2021)

The Eleventh Circuit affirmed a defendant’s conviction and sentence, holding that the district court did not clearly err in finding that alternatives to impounding the defendant’s car were impractical based on the officer’s need to interview the arrestee and the time he would have to wait for someone else to get the vehicle. The sentencing court properly applied the enhancement for defendants who have custody, supervisory control, or who care for the minor victims where the defendant acted like a temporary guardian for the victim when the mother was at the work, and the defendant helped the family financially.

United States v. Laschell Harris (11th Cir. February 2021)

The Eleventh Circuit held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying an inmate’s motion for compassionate release, holding that the exhaustion requirement under 18 USC 3582(c)(1)(A) is a non-jurisdictional mandatory claims-processing rule that the government can waive.

United States v. Jason Kaushmaul (11th Cir. January 2021)

The Eleventh Circuit affirmed a defendant’s conviction for distributing child pornography, holding the sentencing court did not plainly err in sentencing the defendant to the 15-year mandatory minimum based on finding that his prior Florida conviction for promoting the sexual performance of a child was a predicate prior offense.

United States v. Richard Lee Graham (11th Cir. December 2020)

The Eleventh Circuit affirmed a defendant’s conviction for corruptly endeavoring to obstruct the Internal Revenue Code by submitting a fraudulent check to the IRS. The Court held that the IRS’s “collection activity” constituted a “particular administrative proceeding” which is a required element of the offense since SCOTUS’s decision in Marinello v. United States. The Court also rejected evidentiary challenges from the defendant based on the district court limiting the testimony of a witness who connected the defendant to others who prepared the false check.

United States v. Latecia Watkins (11th Cir. December 2020)

The Eleventh Circuit reversed a district court’s suppression order, holding that even though the officers had violated the defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights by monitoring a tracking device that was in her home, there was a “reasonable probability” that the agents would have eventually conducted a knock and talk at her residence and been able to discover the tracker anyway.

United States v. Peter Bobal (11th Cir. November 2020)

The Eleventh Circuit affirmed a defendant’s conviction and sentence. The Court held that the prosecutor did not commit plain error during closing arguments when they incorrectly stated that the defendant had stipulated his guilt as to one of the counts in the indictment, as opposed to just one element of that count, reasoning that the full context allowed the jury to infer the stipulation only applied to an element of the count. The Court also held that, notwithstanding the Supreme Court’s decision in Packingham v. North Carolina, a defendant’s condition of supervised release prohibiting internet access except for work and pre-approved purposes is not unconstitutional even if the defendant’s term of supervised release is for life.

United States v. Otto Taylor (11th Cir. December 2020)

The Eleventh Circuit reversed a district court’s holding that a defendant was ineligible for a sentence reduction under Section 404 of the First Step Act, which made retroactive reduced mandatory minimums for crack cocaine offenses. The Court held that a defendant who has a “covered offense” is eligible for a reduction even if he was charged with other drugs that trigger the same statutory sentencing range.

United States v. Deangelo Johnson (11th Cir. December 2020)

The Eleventh Circuit affirmed a defendant’s conviction for possession of a firearm by a person convicted of a misdemeanor involving domestic violence, rejecting his Rehaif challenge. The Court held that there was plain error in the indictment failing to allege the element of knowledge and the lack of evidence proving that knowledge, but held that the defendant’s substantial rights were not affected because there was sufficient evidence that he knew of his prohibited status as a domestic violence misdemeanant.

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