Seventh Circuit

The Federal Docket

United States v. Anthony Jordan (7th Cir. March 2021)

The Seventh Circuit reversed a district court’s revocation of the defendant’s supervised release and 6-month sentence. Reviewing the district court’s decision under the Court’s “supervisory power,” the Court held that the district court did not adequately address the defendant’s explanation for his non-criminal, unintentional violations, and it did not properly explain its sentencing decision in accordance with the 3553(a) factors.

Jeffery Bridges v. United States (March 7th Cir. 2021)

The Seventh Circuit remanded a defendant’s 2255 motion for an evidentiary hearing, holding that the defendant had made a sufficient showing that he may have received ineffective assistance of counsel based on his lawyer’s failure to argue that his Hobbs Act robbery was not a crime of violence under the career offender provision of the sentencing guidelines. While the Seventh Circuit had not yet decided whether Hobbs Act robbery was a crime of violence at the time of the defendant’s sentencing, other circuits had, the categorical approach under the Guidelines was well-known, and this was enough to warrant at least a hearing to determine whether the defendant’s counsel failed to reasonably investigate the issue before the defendant’s sentencing.

United States v. Fred McGee (7th Cir. January 2021)

The Seventh Circuit vacated a defendant’s sentence based on the district court improperly applying a role enhancement. While the defendant distributed drugs through his own local network in addition to the main network in his offense and paid others to act as lookouts or drivers, the Court held this was insufficient to apply the enhancement because, explaining that having a local network of buyers alone does not establish authority over others and that there was insufficient evidence that the defendant exercised authority over others simply by paying them to act in their roles as directed by the organization’s actual leader.

United States v. Gregory Sanford (7th Cir. January 2021)

The Seventh Circuit joined the Fifth, Sixth, and Third Circuits in holding that the exhaustion requirement under 3582(c)(1)(A) is a “mandatory claim-processing rule” that cannot be waived by a court. Therefore a defendant filing a motion for sentence reduction must first submit a request the warden, wait 30 days or exhaust their remedies, or the Government may waive the requirement.

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.

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