Circuit Court Opinions

The Federal Docket

United States v. Goliday (7th Cir. July 2022)

The Seventh Circuit reversed a defendant’s conviction for drug conspiracy after holding that the defendant’s guilty plea was not voluntary. At the change of plea hearing, the defendant had disputed the quantity of drugs imputed to him in the Government’s factual basis and indicated he did not understand the elements of conspiracy as opposed to his substantive drug charge.

Hesser v. United States (11th Cir. July 2022)

The Eleventh Circuit reversed a district court’s partial denial of a defendant’s motion to vacate under 2255 and vacated the defendant’s convictions for tax fraud and tax evasion. The Court held that the defendant’s counsel was ineffective for failing to move for a judgment of acquittal where the Government’s evidence showed that the defendant hid gold bullion, no evidence that it was his gold.

United States v. Inman (6th Cir. July 2022)

The Sixth Circuit reversed a district court’s order prohibiting the Government from retrying a defendant after a jury acquitted him on false statements but hung on charges of extortion and bribery. The Court concluded that collateral estoppel did not apply because making false statements is not an essential element of either extortion or bribery, and a rational jury could have found the defendant innocent of false statements but guilty of bribery or extortion.

United States v. Mallory (4th Cir. July 2022)

The Fourth Circuit affirmed a defendant’s conviction for conspiring to transmit classified national defense information. As a matter of first impression, the Court held that the district court’s invocation of the silent witness rule, which prevented certain admitted evidence, including both classified and publicly available information, from being presented in open court, did not violate the defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to a public trial under these circumstances.

United States v. Alvarez (5th Cir., July 2022)

Andres Manuel Alvarez was stopped by police because he matched the description of a “Hispanic male” who was in his general area and fleeing the service of an outstanding warrant on a “bicycle with large handlebars.” Though he was determined not to be the person they were looking for, Alvarez was found to have a […]

United States v. Lewis (11th Cir. July 2022)

Alfonzo Lewis was convicted of drug offenses and challenged his arrest, jury selection, and other aspects of his trial on appeal. Lewis had initially been investigated by a federal drug task force that included state and local agents. After agents witnessed him leaving a house after a drug transaction, local law enforcement conducted a traffic […]

United States v. Cohen (July 2022)

The Eleventh Circuit held that a driver of a rental vehicle has standing to challenge a traffic stop and inventory search even if they were driving with a suspended license and they are not an authorized driver on the rental agreement.

United States v. Shaw (7th Cir. July 2022)

The Seventh Circuit vacated a defendant’s above-Guidelines prison sentence imposed upon his violation of supervised release. The Court concluded that the record showed the sentencing judge had improperly sentenced Shaw to prison for the purpose of rehabilitation, which is explicitly prohibited under 18 USC 3582(a).

United States v. King (7th Cir., July 2022)

The Seventh Circuit affirmed a district court’s denial of an inmate’s motion for compassionate release based on changes in the law that would have subjected him to a lower sentence. The Court reiterated its holding that courts cannot consider non-retroactive changes in the law in determining an inmate’s eligibility for a reduction, notwithstanding the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Concepcion, dealing with another provision of the First Step Act.

United States v. Bell (6th Cir., June 2022)

The Sixth Circuit affirmed a defendant’s sentence after the Government appealed the district court’s downward variance from the parties’ binding Rule 11(c)(1)(c) plea agreement. The Court held that Rule 11 gives the defendant the right to withdraw a 11(c)(1)(C) plea if the court rejects it but does not give the Government the right to withdraw its consent in the same scenario.

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