Circuit Court Opinions

The Federal Docket

United States v. Ralph Fox Jr. (11th Cir. June 2019)

Citing other circuits, the Eleventh Circuit held for the first time that the application of § 4B1.5(b)(1) does not require multiple victims and can be applied to a defendant who engages in a pattern of prohibited sexual conduct with the same minor.

United States v. Jeffrey Cooper (11th Cir. June 2019)

Sixth Amendment/Confrontation Clause – There was no confrontation clause violation when law enforcement agent testified that the victims refused to testify because they feared humiliation since their statements regarding why they would not testify were not testimonial. However, the mens’ reasons for visiting the defendant’s apartment were testimonial statements since they were made in response …

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United States v. Sergio Diaz-Ortiz (8th Cir. June 2019)

The Court held that a knock-and-talk violation does not mandate suppression when a valid search warrant exists and the knock-and-announce violation has “nothing to do with the seizure of the evidence.” Here, the warrant was valid, and officers would have executed it and seized the evidence regardless of the alleged violation.

United States v. Meamen Nyah (8th Cir. 2019)

Regardless of any alleged failure to execute a search warrant within the time limit in violation of Rule 41, absent any other “constitutional infirmity,” suppression is unwarranted unless the defendant is prejudiced or if officers recklessly disregard the proper procedure. The defendant was not prejudiced here since probable cause continued to exist after the time limit.

United States v. Charles White (8th Cir. June 2019)

In a marijuana farm case, the Court held that law enforcement did not exceed the scope of a permissible knock-and-talk when they returned to the defendant’s house with other narcotics officers after smelling marijuana at the property earlier in the day, as an officer’s subjective intent is irrelevant. The Court also affirmed the district court’s denial of the defendant’s motion to dismiss the marijuana charges based on the Obama-era “Cole memo” directing prosecutors not to prosecute marijuana cases in states where marijuana is legal.

United States v. Alicia Norman

United States v. Alicia Norman, et al, No. 17-3070 (D.C.C. June 11, 2019) ISSUES: Criminal Procedure, Pleas, Ineffective Assistance of Counsel, Sentencing Guidelines On an appeal from a bribery and marijuana distribution case, the Court rejected the defendants’ numerous allegations of error except to the extent it held that one of the defendant’s had raised …

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United States v. Paul Johnson Jr (11th Cir. April 2019), EN BANC

The Court held that a police officer did not exceed the scope of a permissible Terry frisk by reaching into the defendant’s pocket and seizing ammunition and a holster after feeling the bullet during the frisk. Under the totality of circumstances, going into the defendant’s pocket and removing ammunition was reasonably related to the protection of law enforcement.

United States v. Diosme Hano and Reinaldo Arrastia-Cardoso (11th Cir. April 2019)

The Court affirmed the defendants’ convictions and sentences, holding that 1) the statute of limitations did not bar prosecution since subsequent DNA testing implicated the defendant, 2) a non-testifying co-defendant’s hearsay statements implicating the defendant were admissible as non-testimonial since the co-defendant had no reason to believe the statements would serve as a substitute for testimony, 3) there were no evidentiary errors and the evidence was sufficient to convict, 4) the prosecutor’s comment in closing that there was no other explanation for defendants’ DNA at the crime scene was not a comment on the defendant’s decision not to testify, and 5) the sentencing court properly applied an enhancement for “using” a weapon.

Michael Wade Nance v. Warden (11th Cir. April 2019)

Reviewing a petitioner’s § 2254 motion, the Court held that the state court’s rejection of petitioner’s ineffective claim was objectively reasonable since trial counsel’s decision to refrain from presenting certain mitigation evidence at death penalty sentencing was a strategic decision. The Court also held that the state court did not go against clearly established federal law in holding that the trial court did not err in requiring defendant to wear a stun belt under his clothes because the Supreme Court has only established that requiring visible restraints is prejudicial.

United States v. Bechir Delva, Dan Kenny Delva (11th Cir. April 2019)

The Court affirmed the defendants’ convictions, holding, among other things, that there was probable cause to justify warrantless search of the defendant’s vehicle where officers could tie the vehicle to identity fraud, the defendant’s repeated use of an access device to obtain benefits reflected knowledge that the access device belonged to a real person, the government was allowed to use a detective as an expert witness on common slang terms in identity fraud cases, and the district court properly applied a firearm enhancement.

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