Ninth Circuit

The Federal Docket

United States v. Javier Garcia (9th Cir. August 2020)

The Ninth Circuit vacated the defendant’s conviction and held that the attenuation doctrine should not have been applied to deny his motion to suppress. The officers’ second, discretionary search of the defendant’s home was a direct result of a prior unlawful sweep of the home during which officers discovered that the defendant had a condition of supervised release allowing searches. The temporal proximity between the searches and the investigatory motives of the officers outweighed the intervening nature of discovering the condition of supervised release, and evidence discovered during the second search should have been suppressed.

United States v. Alexander Oriho d/b/a Rhino’s Med. Trans, LLC (9th Cir. August 2020)

In a matter of first impression, the Ninth Circuit vacated a defendant’s pre-trial repatriation order under a de novo standard of review after finding the order violated the defendant’s right against self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment. The Court further held that the district court’s application of the forgone conclusion exception was too broad while the government’s limited use immunity was too narrow to protect the defendant’s Fifth Amendment rights.

United States v. Enrique Valencia-Lopez (9th Cir. August 2020)

The Ninth Circuit vacated a defendant’s conviction for transporting marijuana and remanded for a new trial because the district court did not properly assess the reliability of the government’s expert witness, an ICE agent, who testified that the cartel does not employ unwilling couriers. The Court held that this was harmful error because it directly undercut the defendant’s credibility and duress defense.

United States v. Tuan Luong (9th Cir. July 2020)

The Ninth Circuit vacated a defendant’s sentence because the district court erred in failing to consider whether the defendant had accepted responsibility. Though the defendant had gone to trial, he had admitted factual guilt and relied on a defense that the government lacked jurisdiction under the Hobbs Act. The Court held that a defendant may still receive credit for accepting responsibility after making good faith challenges to a statute’s applicability in a criminal case.

United States v. Ezequiel Moran-Garcia (9th Cir. July 2020)

The Ninth Circuit vacated a defendant’s conviction because the trial court decided venue as a legal question and did not give a venue instruction to a jury.

United States v. Nikolay Bocharnikov (9th Cir. July 2020)

The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court’s denial of the defendant’s motion to suppress statements. The Court held that the defendant’s second interview with the FBI was not sufficiently attenuated from his first interview eight months prior, where he was unlawfully detained and interrogated, based on the FBI telling him they were there to ask “follow up” questions and never read him his Miranda rights. The Court further noted that the fact that eight months passed and the agents did not act deceitful was not dispositive.

United States v. Maher Obagi and Mohamed Salah (9th Cir. July 2020)

The Ninth Circuit reversed convictions for fraud because the government disclosed material impeachment evidence about one of its witnesses after the close of evidence and after it had given its closing argument. The defendants were prejudiced by this untimely disclosure, especially given the length of jury deliberations and split verdict.

United States v. Jack Voris (9th Cir. July 2020)

The Ninth Circuit reversed one of the defendant’s assault convictions and corresponding § 924(c) convictions as multiplicitous because the defendant, although charged with shooting at five officers, only shot at them four times. The Court also held that multiple shots fired in quick succession do not necessarily mean the firearm was only used once under 924(c).

United States v. Francisca Rodriguez-Gamboa (9th Cir. December 2019)

The Court held that the defendant could not be removed and later charged with illegal reentry based on a conviction under California law that was broader in defining methamphetamine than the federal law defining methamphetamine.

United States v. Michael Kimbrew (9th Cir. December 2019)

The Court found that there was sufficient evidence to convict the defendant for bribery based on evidence that he took money from an undercover agent to perform an official act, even though the defendant lacked the actual ability to exert the promised influence necessary to perform the official act. The Court explained that the Government does not have to prove that a bribery defendant actually has the ability to achieve the promised outcome since the crime of bribery is based on the agreement, not the outcome.

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