Circuit Court Opinions

The Federal Docket

Curtis Solomon v. United States (11th Cir. January 2019)

The Court affirmed the denial of a defendant’s second § 2255 motion which alleged that the defendant’s conviction under the residual clause of § 924(c) was unconstitutional. The Court held that the defendant’s motion was not based on a “new rule of constitutional law” given this Court’s holdings in Ovalles II and In Re: Garrett.

United States v. Michael St. Hubert (11th Cir. November 2018)

The Court held that the defendant’s guilty plea did not waive his right to appeal his conviction on the ground that the language of his statute-of-conviction did not define an offense. The Court also held that attempted Hobbs Act Robbery is a “crime of violence” under the conduct-based approach to § 924(c) offenses recently announced in Ovalles.

In re: Tracy Garrett (11th Cir. November 2018)

The Court held that an application to file a successive motion under § 2255, brought by a defendant convicted under § 924(c) and based on Johnson and Dimaya, was not based on a “new rule of constitutional law,” since the Eleventh Circuit held en banc in Ovalles that “crime of violence” under § 924(c) is not void-for-vagueness. The Court also held that the “conduct-based approach” to § 924(c) announced in Ovalles did not create a “new rule of constitutional rule.”

James Manuel Phillips, Jr. v. Warden (11th Cir. October 2018)

The Court affirmed the district court’s order dismissing the petitioner’s § 2254 motion as time-barred, since the statute of limitations began running when the petitioner missed the deadline for appealing his conviction to the highest court in the state of conviction, and not after that court’s order dismissing the petitioner’s untimely appeal filed after that deadline. 

United States v. Tremane Carthen, et al. (11th Cir. October 2018)

The Court affirmed the convictions of two defendants who were sentenced under § 924(c), holding that the district court did not err in admitting hearsay testimony from a co-conspirator or in excluding specific instances of the co-conspirators prior lies to impeach him, and that the mandatory sentencing scheme in § 924(c) was constitutional.

United States v. Lourdes Garcia (11th Cir. October 2018)

The Court affirmed the defendant’s conviction after the District Court judge allowed the Government to present inculpatory testimony in the absence of the Defendant and her Counsel, declining to apply the “structural error” standard to these types of errors and finding that the court’s error did not affect the defendant’s substantial rights under the plain-error standard of review.

Irma Ovalles v. United States (11th Cir. October 2018)

On remand after the Court’s en banc decision in Ovalles, the panel held that Ms. Ovalles’s attempted car-jacking was a “crime of violence” under § 924(c)(3)(A)’s elements clause, as it requires that a defendant have an intent to cause death or bodily harm and that he take a substantial step towards commission of that crime.

Irma Ovalles v. United States (11th Cir. 2018), EN BANC

The Court held that the residual clause of § 924(c), which defines a “crime of violence,” was not void-for-vagueness after invoking the canon of constitutional doubt to support a narrower reading of the provision, one that qualifies a defendant’s offense as a “crime of violence” based on the defendant’s underlying conduct in that offense.

United States v. Alexis Hernandez (11th Cir. October 2018)

The Court affirmed the defendant’s conviction, holding that the Rules of Evidence do not apply in § 851 hearings, and that the district court did not plainly err in applying the preponderance of evidence standard where the evidence established the defendant’s prior conviction beyond a reasonable doubt.

United States v. Lonnie Anthony Jones (11th Cir. October 2018)

The Court affirmed the defendant’s sentence after holding that defendant’s prior second-degree murder conviction was a “violent felony” under the ACCA’s elements clause.

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