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Fifth Amendment

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United States v. Julian Mora-Alcaraz (9th Cir. January 2021)

The Ninth Circuit affirmed a district court’s order suppressing a defendant’s statements under Miranda. The officers had interrogated the defendant without advising him of his Miranda rights after they approached him in marked cars and separated him from his seven-year-old son. However, the Court remanded for the district court to determine if the defendant’s subsequent consent to search his vehicle was voluntary.

Due Process Protections Act Puts Prosecutors On Notice Regarding Disclosure Obligations under Brady v. Maryland

Recent legislation called the Due Process Protections Act amended Rule 5 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. The Rule now requires district courts to issue orders at the initial appearance in every criminal case that reminds prosecutors of their obligations under Brady, lists potential consequences for violations, and sets deadlines for compliance.

United States v. Carlos Saul Becerra (5th Cir. October 2020)

The Fifth Circuit vacated special conditions of a defendant’s supervised release and remanded for resentencing holding that an absolute ban on computer use or internet access for ten years after serving a 12.5-year sentence was plain error. The Court held that the condition was overbroad because it was not narrowly tailored by scope or duration and would preclude defendant from participating meaningfully in modern society for long periods of time due to the ubiquitous nature and importance of the Internet.

United States v. Jose Reyes-Correa (1st Cir. August 2020)

The First Circuit reversed the denial of a defendant’s motion to dismiss federal drug conspiracy offenses under the Double Jeopardy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, holding that the Puerto Rico government and U.S. federal government are not separate sovereigns for Double Jeopardy purposes, so the defendant’s federal charges for drug conspiracy were barred by his prior conviction under Puerto Rican law for the same offense conduct.

United States v. Alexander Oriho d/b/a Rhino’s Med. Trans, LLC (9th Cir. August 2020)

In a matter of first impression, the Ninth Circuit vacated a defendant’s pre-trial repatriation order under a de novo standard of review after finding the order violated the defendant’s right against self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment. The Court further held that the district court’s application of the forgone conclusion exception was too broad while the government’s limited use immunity was too narrow to protect the defendant’s Fifth Amendment rights.

United States v. Nikolay Bocharnikov (9th Cir. July 2020)

The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court’s denial of the defendant’s motion to suppress statements. The Court held that the defendant’s second interview with the FBI was not sufficiently attenuated from his first interview eight months prior, where he was unlawfully detained and interrogated, based on the FBI telling him they were there to ask “follow up” questions and never read him his Miranda rights. The Court further noted that the fact that eight months passed and the agents did not act deceitful was not dispositive.

United States v. Steven Deason (11th Cir. July 2020)

The Eleventh Circuit upheld a conviction for attempted online enticement of a minor and attempted transfer of obscene matter to a minor, holding that officers did not err in failing to advise the defendant of his Miranda rights where he was informed that he was not under arrest and could ask the officers to leave and because he his statements were voluntary. The Court also held that testimony describing an allegedly obscene video and corresponding screenshots are a sufficient substitute to introducing the videos in their entirety.

United States v. Maher Obagi and Mohamed Salah (9th Cir. July 2020)

The Ninth Circuit reversed convictions for fraud because the government disclosed material impeachment evidence about one of its witnesses after the close of evidence and after it had given its closing argument. The defendants were prejudiced by this untimely disclosure, especially given the length of jury deliberations and split verdict.

United States v. Jack Voris (9th Cir. July 2020)

The Ninth Circuit reversed one of the defendant’s assault convictions and corresponding § 924(c) convictions as multiplicitous because the defendant, although charged with shooting at five officers, only shot at them four times. The Court also held that multiple shots fired in quick succession do not necessarily mean the firearm was only used once under 924(c).

United States v. Shane Young (10th Cir. July 2020)

The Tenth Circuit reversed the defendant’s conviction and held that the district court erred in failing to suppress involuntary statements made by the defendant to an FBI agent. The Court held that the agent’s interrogation of the defendant was coercive given his false representations about the sentence the defendant faced and the agent’s ability to get the defendant a reduced sentence based on the agent’s relationship with the judge. The agent’s coercive questioning outweighed the defendant’s waiver of rights and prior experiences with the justice system.

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