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Fifth Circuit

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United States v. Matthew Beaudion (5th Cir. November 2020)

The Fifth Circuit affirmed a district court’s holding that defendant lacked Fourth Amendment standing to challenge law enforcement’s search for the GPS location of girlfriend’s cell phone while he was with her. While the boyfriend had purchased the phone before giving it to his girlfriend, knew the password, used the phone frequently, and accessed his Facebook account on the phone, the Court held that he did not have a reasonable expectation in the phone because the girlfriend carried it throughout the day, the defendant never used it outside her presence, and her parents paid the bill. The Court further held that Carpenter did not apply here because law enforcement was trying to determine the girlfriend’s location, not the defendant’s.

United States v. Carlos Saul Becerra (5th Cir. October 2020)

The Fifth Circuit vacated special conditions of a defendant’s supervised release and remanded for resentencing holding that an absolute ban on computer use or internet access for ten years after serving a 12.5-year sentence was plain error. The Court held that the condition was overbroad because it was not narrowly tailored by scope or duration and would preclude defendant from participating meaningfully in modern society for long periods of time due to the ubiquitous nature and importance of the Internet.

United States v. Christopher J. Abbate (5th Cir. August 2020)

The Fifth Circuit affirmed several conditions of the defendant’s lifetime term of supervised release as a sex offender, including conditions prohibiting him from possessing any pornographic materials, but held that a condition prohibiting use or possession of video games and gaming consoles was overbroad unless limited to consoles that allow internet communication.

United States v. Thaddeus Beaulieu (5th Cir. August 2020)

The Fifth Circuit vacated a defendant’s felony criminal contempt conviction due to prosecutorial misconduct when the AUSA expressed personal opinion on the merits of the case, made arguments based on facts not in evidence during the trial, and told the jury that any verdict other than guilty would disrespect the judge and the court. The Court held that the district court abused its discretion in entering the contempt conviction because the inappropriate remarks were textbook prosecutorial misconduct and denied defendant his due process.

United States v. Samuel Tanel Crittenden (5th Cir. August 2020)

The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court’s order granting defendant a new trial where the defendant’s mistaken belief that a bag contained marijuana was not sufficient to establish knowledge for the meth counts in the indictment because the knowledge element requires evidence that the defendant actually knew the controlled substance identity or that the contents were a listed controlled substance.

United States v. Cristofer Jose Gallegos-Espinal (5th Cir. August 2020)

The Fifth Circuit reversed the grant of a defendant’s motion to suppress evidence under a broad, written consent to search a cell phone and seize property prior to issuance of a search warrant. Applying the objective standard, the Court held that a reasonable person would understand consent to examine a phone includes its contents and that permission to seize materials includes permission to seize and review phone contents later.

United States v. Herman Sanders (5th Cir. July 2020)

The Fifth Circuit reversed a defendant’s conviction for enticing or transporting a minor for purposes of producing child pornography under 18 U.S.C. § 2251 because there was insufficient evidence that the defendant had knowledge that his victims were minors.

United States v. Michael Vickers (5th Cir. July 2020)

The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court that vacated a defendant’s sentence under the ACCA and Career Offender enhancement, holding that the defendant’s prior state murder conviction under Texas law qualified as a violent felony under the ACCA despite the prior statute not distinguishing between direct and indirect force.

United States v. Rodolfo Rodriguez-Leos (5th Cir. March 2020)

Sentencing Guidelines The defendant was convicted of unlawful possession of ammunition by a person admitted to the U.S. on a nonimmigrant visa. Law enforcement had witnessed the defendant purchasing ammunition and leaving it in locations to be picked up and eventually smuggled into Mexico. At sentencing, the district court applied the enhancement under U.S.S.G. § …

United States v. Rodolfo Rodriguez-Leos (5th Cir. March 2020) Read More »

United States v. Robert Warren Scully (5th Cir. March 2020)

The Court affirmed the defendant’s conviction, holding that the good faith exception applied to law enforcement’s search of two separate addresses despite only identifying one address in the search warrant. The Court noted that the lack of signs distinguishing the two addresses and their proximity made it reasonable for the officers to treat the two addresses as one.

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