Third Circuit

The Federal Docket

United States v. Mohammed Jabateh (3rd Cir. September 2020)

In a matter of first impression, the Third Circuit affirmed a defendant’s conviction of immigration fraud and perjury for lying during his oral interview with a USCIS officer about his involvement with organizations and killing others in his home county. Although the Court held that the statute applied only to written documents, the defendant’s conviction was not plain error since the statutory interpretation was not clear and no other court had considered the statute’s ordinary meaning before.

United States v. Michael Heinrich (3rd Cir. June 2020)

The Third Circuit vacated a defendant’s conviction and remanded the case to the district court for an explicit ruling and reasonings on whether to exclude the defendant’s proffered expert evidence under Rule 403. The Court recognized its authority to conduct a de novo balancing test but held that remand was more appropriate where there was no record regarding the judge’s reasoning, the judge had not issued a formal ruling (instead having a law clerk inform the parties of the judge’s intent), and a trial judge is better positioned to conduct the Rule 403 balancing test.

United States v. Edwin Pawlowski (3rd Cir. July 2020)

In an appeal of a district court’s denial of a motion under 18 U.S.C. 3582(c)(1)(A) based on the district court’s weighing of the factors under 18 U.S.C. 3553(a), the Third Circuit held that the proper standard of review is for abuse of discretion.

United States v. Harris (3rd Cir. July 2020), UNPUBLISHED

In an unpublished opinion, the Third Circuit held that it was error for the district court to require an inmate-defendant to exhaust his administrative remedies before filing a motion for compassionate release under 18 U.S.C. 3582(c)(1)(A). Though the warden had denied the inmate’s request for compassionate release within 30 days of receiving the request, the statute allows an inmate to bring inmate may bring a motion directly to the court after 30 days elapse from the warden’s receipt of the request regardless of the warden’s response.

United States v. Francis Raia (3rd Cir. April 2020)

The Court held that the defendant had not exhausted his administrative remedies before filing his motion under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(A) because he had not waited 30 days for the BOP to respond to his request for such a motion and had not received an adverse decision. The defendant had not argued waiver of the exhaustion requirement based on futility, inadequate relief, or irreparable harm.

United States v. Tremayne James (3rd Cir. March 2020)

The Court affirmed the defendant’s sentence, holding that the defendant’s prior conviction for loitering under Pennsylvania law was not “loitering” or an “offense similar to” loitering under the Guidelines because the Pennsylvania offense requires proving criminal intent.

United States v. Tyrone Mitchell (3rd Cir. December 2019)

The Court held that the sentencing court committed plain and reversible error when it relied on the defendant’s “bare arrest record” in determining a sentence, as the sentencing court had only cited the Defendant’s “extensive criminal history” without adequately distinguishing between adjudications, convictions, and mere arrests. 

United States v. Kenneth James (3rd Cir. June 2019)

The Court agreed that an assertion of “legal innocence” as well as “factual innocence” can justify withdrawing a plea, but affirmed the district court’s denial of the defendant’s motion to withdraw his guilty plea since “bald assertions of innocence are insufficient,” and James had failed to allege a sufficient basis for an entrapment defense that he could have utilized at trial.

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