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United States v. Deangelo Johnson (11th Cir. December 2020)

The Eleventh Circuit affirmed a defendant’s conviction for possession of a firearm by a person convicted of a misdemeanor involving domestic violence, rejecting his Rehaif challenge. The Court held that there was plain error in the indictment failing to allege the element of knowledge and the lack of evidence proving that knowledge, but held that the defendant’s substantial rights were not affected because there was sufficient evidence that he knew of his prohibited status as a domestic violence misdemeanant.

United States v. Malik Nasir (3rd Cir. December 2020), EN BANC

Sitting en banc, the Third Circuit held that inchoate offenses are not included in the definition of “controlled substance offenses” under the career offender guidelines because commentary to the Guidelines is not binding when it is inconsistent with or broader than the text of the Guidelines. The Court also held that a court reviewing a defendant’s Rehaif challenge under plain error review is limited to considering the record presented at trial, not the whole record, and a new trial is warranted where there is no evidence presented to a jury regarding the defendant’s knowledge of his prior felony.

United States v. Tamaran Bontemps (9th Cir. October 2020)

The Ninth Circuit affirmed the defendant’s conviction for being a felon in possession of a firearm. The Court held that there was reasonable suspicion to detain and search the defendant based solely on the officer believing he had a concealed firearm (illegal in California) after noticing a “very large and obvious bulge” under the defendant’s sweatshirt. The Court also discussed other kinds of “suggestive bulges” that can give rise to reasonable suspicion, such as when a defendant is hiding drugs.

United States v. Justin Taylor (4th Cir. October 2020)

The Fourth Circuit held that attempted Hobbs Act robbery, like conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery, does not constitute a “crime of violence” under 924(c) because under the categorical approach an attempt to commit the offense does not invariably require use of force or threat of force.

United States v. Tyslen Baker (6th Cir. September 2020)

The Sixth Circuit held that the good faith exception under Leon applies to arrest warrants as well as search warrants, affirming the district court’s denial of defendant’s motion to suppress evidence seized when agents executed an arrest warrant at his residence and place of business.

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. Jovon Lovelle Medley (4th Cir. August 2020)

Applying the Rehaif analysis to a defendant who was convicted at trial for unlawful possession of a firearm as a convicted felon, the Fourth Circuit reversed the defendant’s conviction as plain error, holding that the failure to properly advise the defendant of, or charge him with, the element of knowledge of his felon status substantially affected his rights and deprived him of a defense at trial, despite the defendant running from the police, his prior 12-year prison term, and his stipulations at trial regarding his prior conviction and civil rights, .

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. Christopher Henry (11th Cir. August 2020)

The Eleventh Circuit vacated the defendant’s sentence because the district court failed to apply a provision of the Sentencing Guidelines that would have reduced the defendant’s sentence by the amount of time served in a separate but related case, holding that the Guidelines are still binding if they do not enhance a defendant’s sentence or mandate imposition of a sentence within the Guidelines range.

United States v. Erickson Campbell (11th Cir. August 2020)

The Eleventh Circuit reconsidered its prior panel decision and upheld a district court’s denial of a motion to suppress evidence found during a traffic stop because the officer had reasonable suspicion for the stop and, although he improperly prolonged the stop, the exclusionary rule did not apply.

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