Sixth Circuit

The Federal Docket

United States v. Fields (6th Cir. August 2022)

The Sixth Circuit vacated a defendant’s sentence that had been enhanced under 21 USC 841(b)(1)(A)(viii) based on his prior convictions. The Court held that the defendant’s meth conviction under Kentucky state law was not a “serious drug offense” or “serious drug felony” since his statute of conviction encompassed more than manufacturing conduct.

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. 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.

United States v. Ziesel (6th Cir. June 2022)

The Sixth Circuit vacated a defendant’s sentence for bank robbery, holding that the district court erred in applying an enhancement for using physical restraint. The Court held that ordering tellers to the ground, and their accompanying compliance, without more, was insufficient to constitute “physical restraint.”

United States v. Rife (6th Cir. May 2022)

The Sixth Circuit affirmed a defendant’s conviction for having sex with a minor while living or traveling abroad. While the Court held that the statute at issue (18 USC 2423(c)) was not authorized under the Foreign Commerce Clause of the Constitution, Congress had the authority to criminalize having sex with minors abroad based on an international treaty and Congress’s authority to enact laws that are “necessary and proper” to enforce the treaty.

United States v. Sadler (6th Cir. January 2022)

The Sixth Circuit vacated a defendant’s sentence and remanded for new trial on the limited issue of whether he was within the “chain of distribution” of the drugs that resulted in the victims’ deaths.

United States v. Nicolescu (6th Cir. October 2021)

The Sixth Circuit affirmed the convictions of two defendants charged with operating a large cyber fraud scheme involving fake car auctions on ebay, stolen identities, and cryptocurrency. The Court vacated their sentences, however, after finding that they erroneously received an enhancement for receiving stolen property and being in the business of receiving and selling stolen property, since the enhancement does not apply to defendants who sell property they themselves stole. The Court held that the enhancement for production or trafficking of unauthorized access devices did apply, however, even though the defendants were already being sentenced for aggravated identity theft.

United States v. Grant (6th Cir. October 2021)

The Sixth Circuit vacated a defendant’s sentence. The defendant had received two sentences for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and by a domestic violence misdemeanant. The Court held that these two convicted should have been merged for sentencing since they were based on one act of possession.

United States v. Rich (6th Cir. September 2021)

The Sixth Circuit affirmed a defendant’s conviction and sentence. The Court held that the district court did not err in using the future-tense in instructing the jury on the elements of RICO, since the conspiracy charge criminalized the agreement to form a racketeering enterprise, even if the enterprise has not been formed yet. The Court also affirmed the two-level enhancement for maintaining a premise for drug distribution, holding that the defendant could be held accountable for a co-defendant’s maintenance of a premise that was part of a jointly undertaken criminal activity.

Cartwright v. United States (6th Cir. August 2021)

The Sixth Circuit reversed a district court’s denial of a habeas petition asserting that the defendant was no longer an armed career criminal under Johnson v. US. A conviction for burglary under Tennessee law is not categorically a crime of violence where a defendant can commit the crime after entering a dwelling or building lawfully.

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