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Seventh Circuit

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Sixth and Seventh Circuits Hold Courts Have Broad Discretion to Determine Inmate Eligibility for Compassionate Release

The Sixth Circuit and Seventh Circuit have joined the Second Circuit in holding that district courts considering motions for sentence reductions under 18 USC 3582(c)(1)(A) can exercise their discretion in determining whether an inmate has presented “extraordinary and compelling reasons” warranting a sentence modification.

United States v. Blair Cook (7th Cir. August 2020)

Upon remand from the United States Supreme Court, the Seventh Circuit reconsidered the defendant’s conviction under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(3) in light of Rehaif v United States (2019) where the knowledge requirement applied to both elements including possession of a firearm and defendant belonging to a barred category. The Court vacated the defendant’s conviction for unlawful drug user in possession of a firearm and held that the record established that the defendant knew he was a drug user but did not sufficiently establish that the defendant knew his use was illegal.

United States v. Kevin Kizart (7th Cir. July 2020)

The Seventh Circuit upheld a defendant’s drug convictions and denial of suppression because the officer had probable cause to search the trunk of the defendant’s car due to the smell of burnt marijuana and the defendant’s observable reaction when asked about the trunk.

United States v. Robert Triggs (7th Cir. July 2020)

The Seventh Circuit reversed the defendant’s conviction under 922(g) based on his prior misdemeanor conviction for family violence battery. Under Rehaif, the Government would have had to prove that the defendant knew that his prior conviction prohibited him from possessing firearms, and the defendant established a reasonable probability that he would not have pleaded guilty had he known the Government’s burden, especially given the circumstances of his prior misdemeanor conviction, which involved a guilty plea without counsel or being thoroughly advised of the collateral consequences.

United States v. Jeremy Wade (7th Cir. June 2020)

The Court affirmed the defendant’s conviction under 18 USC 912 for impersonating a U.S. employee and acting in conformity with that pretense, rejecting his argument that the offense requires an intent to defraud. The Court held that all that was required was impersonating an officer and an “overt act” which causes a victim to take a course of action they otherwise wouldn’t, which in this case was satisfied because the defendant’s high school crush opened her door to him and let him in based on her belief that he was a DEA agent.

United States v. Terrill Rickmon, Sr. (7th Cir. March 2020)

In a matter of first impression involving the use of ShotSpotter, GPS-enabled technology that detects gunfire, the Court held that there was reasonable suspicion to stop a vehicle emerging from an area where gunfire was detected based on the short lapse of time between the detection and the stop, the vehicle’s proximity to the area, the behavior of the occupants, and other circumstances.

United States v. Ionel Muresanu (7th Cir. March 2020)

The Court vacated the defendant’s convictions for aggravated identity theft based on the trial court violating his Fifth Amendment right to be tried on offenses charged by the grand jury. The indictment against him was defective in alleging that he committed “attempted” aggravated identity theft, a non crime, and the district court erred in removing the “attempt” language from its jury instructions.

United States v. Herman Adair (7th Cir. June 2019)

The Court upheld a stop and frisk where, despite evidence that the defendant was not wearing a hoodie and the alleged suspect was reported as wearing a hoodie, the defendant acted nervously around the officer, the officer already knew the defendant was a convicted felon, and there was a “bulge” in the defendant’s pocket.

United States v. Ishaihu Harmelech (7th Cir. June 2019)

The Court held that payments made to a victim of a fraud scream can still be part of the loss amount if the payments were made “in furtherance of the scheme.”

United States v. Demontae Bell (7th Cir. June 2019)

The Court held that the officer violated the defendant’s Fourth Amendment right by opening his phone after the defendant’s arrest, where the officer saw a picture of a firearm, but affirmed the district court’s denial of the motion to suppress under the independent source doctrine, since the officers had already seen the picture on another occasion, and since there was probable cause notwithstanding the tainted picture.

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