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Federal Prison Handbook

Articles by David Reutter

Ninth Circuit: Federal Sentencing Court Must Hear Defendant Before Determining If Acceptance of Responsibility Reduction Applies

by David Reutter

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that a “sentencing court erred by concluding that it could not first hear from the defendant before determining whether a reduction for acceptance of responsibility was warranted under the Sentencing Guidelines.” The Court concluded the misapprehension of law was plain error that requires resentencing.

Before the Court was the appeal of Jeffrey Green. His apartment in Anchorage, Alaska, was subject to a search warrant executed on June 3, 2016, by a group of police officers. They found a revolver in Green’s pocket and two pistols in a safe. Both pistols had been reported stolen.

As Green had a long history of felony convictions, he was charged with a single count of possession of a firearm as a felon in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(G)(1).

Green agreed to a plea agreement in which he admitted to possessing the revolver in his pocket but not to all conduct in the indictment. A pre-sentence report concluded Green was not entitled to a reduction of sentence for accepting responsibility under Sentencing Guidelines § 3E1.1(a) because he had not admitted possessing the two pistols found in the safe.

The district court ...

Massachusetts Supreme Court Suppresses Evidence Obtained After Miranda Warnings Translated into Spanish Deemed Incapable of Conveying Meaningful Advice

by David Reutter

The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts affirmed the suppression of custodial statements where the translation of Miranda warnings into Spanish was inadequate to apprise the defendant of his rights. The Court also reversed the denial of the suppression of evidence taken from the defendant’s cellphone because the consent to search was based on the inadequate warnings. Finally, the Court suppressed cell-site location information (“CSLI”) because the affidavit in support of the search warrant failed to establish probable cause.

The case was before the Court on interlocutory appeals filed by the Commonwealth and the defendant, Pedro Vasquez.

Shortly after the January 2015 shooting death of Vasquez’s girlfriend, he became a suspect. After Vasquez was arrested, it became apparent that he did not have command of the English language. The detectives asked a Spanish speaking officer who was untrained in interpretation to translate the Miranda warnings and interrogation into Spanish. The officer’s translation was as follows: “1. You have the right to remain quiet. 2. Any thing that you say can be against you … the, of the court. 3. You the right to consult with a lawyer for advice before being and to have him present with you ...

Tennessee Supreme Court Abandons Doctrine of Abatement Ab Initio

by David Reutter

The Tennessee Supreme Court held “the doctrine of abatement ab initio must be abandoned because it is obsolete, its continued application would do more harm than good, and it is inconsistent with the current public policy of this State.”

Before the court was an appeal brought by ...

Michigan Supreme Court: Reaching Out Door of Home to Retrieve ID Inadequate to Surrender Fourth Amendment Rights

by David Reutter

The Supreme Court of Michigan held that a defendant did not expose herself to public arrest when she reached out of her doorway to retrieve her identification from a police officer — and there could be no “hot pursuit” when she pulled her arm back into the home.

Jennifer Hammerlund was involved in a single-vehicle accident in the wee hours of September 30, 2015. She called her insurance company and took a rideshare service home. She did not call police. Officer Erich Staman of the Wyoming Police Department reported to the scene, identified the car as Hammerlund’s, had the vehicle towed, and had Kentwood police officers report to Hammerlund’s home to conduct a welfare check.

When they arrived, Hammerlund was in bed, and her roommate answered the door. Hammerlund initially refused to leave her room, but with the officers’ threat to take her into custody and arrest her roommate for harboring a fugitive, Hammerlund came to the door.

Staman arrived to make contact, and it was “pretty clear that she wasn’t coming out of the home.” When he asked for Hammerlund’s ID, she had her roommate pass it to him. He refused to return it that way, ...

New York Court of Appeals: Jury Trial Right Attaches to Deportable Crimes Punishable by Less Than Six Months in Jail

by David Reutter

As a matter of first impression, the Court of Appeals of New York ruled that a noncitizen defendant charged with state crimes that carry a maximum penalty of less than six months in jail but subject him or her to deportation is entitled to a jury trial under the Sixth Amendment. 

The appeal by Saylor Suazo came after a bench trial that resulted in convictions for Class B misdemeanors of attempted assault in the third degree, attempted criminal obstruction of breathing or blood circulation, menacing in the third degree, and attempted criminal contempt in the second degree. Each of those charges were reduced immediately before trial from Class A misdemeanors, which carry more than six months imprisonment, to Class B misdemeanors that carry three months imprisonment by amending the charges to attempts.

The distinction was important because the Supreme Court of the United States (“SCOTUS”) has held that the Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial does not apply to “so-called petty offenses.” Baldwin v. New York, 399 U.S. 66 (1970). The clear rule is that “no offense can be deemed petty for purposes of the right to trial by jury where imprisonment for more ...

Ohio Supreme Court: Plea Defendant Must Be Informed of Maximum Penalty for Postrelease-Control Violation Prior to Pleading Guilty to a New Felony

by David Reutter

The Supreme Court of Ohio held that a plea court must “advise a criminal defendant on postrelease control for a prior felony, during his plea hearing in a new felony case, of the trial court’s authority under R.C. 2929.141 to terminate the defendant’s existing postrelease control and ...

Indiana Supreme Court: IAC Where Lawyer Marks ‘Not Applicable’ to Immigration Consequences Warning on Court’s Advisement Form Without Knowing Client’s Immigration Status

by David Reutter

The Supreme Court of Indiana held an attorney rendered ineffective assistance by affirmatively marking ‘not applicable’ to an immigration consequences warning on the court’s standard advisement form when he neither knew his client’s status nor asked him. 

Angelo Bobadilla, 19, entered a guilty plea to misdemeanor ...

Arkansas Supreme Court Rules Justification Defense Available When Charged With Manslaughter

by David Reutter

The Supreme Court of Arkansas held that the defense of justification is available to a defendant charged with manslaughter if the defendant was not reckless or negligent in forming the belief that force was necessary.

The Court had before it the appeal of Christopher Schnarr. It ...

New York Court of Appeals: Jury Trial Right Attaches to Deportable Crimes Punishable by Less Than Six Months in Jail

by David Reutter

As a matter of first impression, the Court of Appeals of New York ruled that a noncitizen defendant charged with state crimes that carry a maximum penalty of less than six months in jail but subject him or her to deportation is entitled to a jury trial ...

Fourth Circuit: 9-Year Increase in Guidelines Range Due to Misclassification as Career Offender Warrants § 2241 Petition to Be Heard on Merits When § 2255 Relief Unavailable

by David Reutter

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled that where an erroneous career offender designation raises a defendant’s mandatory prison term, the resulting sentence is fundamentally defective. 

The Court further ruled that when a 28 U.S.C. § 2255 petition is inadequate and ineffective to ...




 

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