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Recent Blog Posts

Fourth Circuit Comes Close To Addressing FSA Questions

Tuesday, May 10, 2011 at 05:08PM In an opinion released last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit came close to addressing the applicability of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 to certain defendants pending sentencing.  Ultimately, the opinion is noteworthy only for a footnote on page 18.  (Available here) In Bullard, Read More

Bill Brennan To Testify Before U.S. Sentencing Commission

Thursday, March 17, 2011 at 01:00PM Bill Brennan will testify today before the United States Sentencing Commission on behalf of the Practitioner’s Advisory Group.  The subject of Bill’s testimony will be proposed amendments and draft language to certain sentencing guidelines related to arms trafficking (Sections 2K2.1 and 2M5.2). The Commission’s hearing agenda is here and Read More

Fourth Circuit Reverses Conviction Because Of Illegal Seizure

Saturday, March 5, 2011 at 02:00PM United States of America v. David Foster, No. 09-5161 (4th Cir. March 2, 2011).  Available here.The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit reversed and remanded a case involving the warrantless seizure and search of a man in North Carolina.  The facts of the case are straight-forward, as Read More

Supreme Court Widens Sentencing Courts Discretion On Remand

Thursday, March 3, 2011 at 11:53AM Pepper v. United States, No. 09-6822 (March 2, 2011) In an opinion filed yesterday, the Supreme Court held that upon the resentencing of a defendant in federal court, the sentencing court may–and should–take into account the defendant’s post-sentence rehabilitation.  Prior to this ruling, there was confusion among federal courts Read More

Fourth Circuit Faults All Parties Vacates And Remands

Friday, February 4, 2011 at 10:50AM United States v. Lorenzo Martez Lewis, No. 09-4467 (4th. Cir. Feb. 2, 2011) (available here) In a case decided this week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit took issue with either mistakes made, or arguments advanced by all parties. In the district court below, the defendant entered Read More

Fourth Circuit Vacates Improper Leadership Enhancement

Friday, January 28, 2011 at 01:42PM United States v. Kevin M. Slade, No. 08-4932 (Decided Jan. 27, 2011). In an opinion filed yesterday (available here), the Fourth Circuit vacated and remanded a case for sentencing where a district court erroneously applied an aggravating leadership enhancement to a defendant in a drug conspiracy. At the time Read More

Maryland High Court Affirms Common Law Prohibition On Improper Inducements

Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 03:05PM Enoch Jermaine Hill v. State of Maryland, No. 149, September Term, 2009 (Maryland Court of Appeals) (Filed Jan. 26, 2011). In an opinion filed today (available here), the Court of Appeals held that a detective’s statement to a suspect constituted an improper inducement.  The case was one of child Read More

Court Of Special Appeals Declines To Extend Ott To Third Parties

Tuesday, September 7, 2010 at 10:50AM In an opinion published last week, (available here), the Court of Special Appeals decided whether a police department’s reliance on incorrect information provided by a third party should be subject to the exclusionary rule. Previously, in State v. Ott, the Court of Appeals held that the good faith exception Read More

Fourth Circuit Vacates Sentence Alford Plea To Second Degree Assault Not ACCA Predicate

Wednesday, July 7, 2010 at 10:26AM The opinion in United States v. Alston is available here. In an opinion published last week, Judge Niemeyer wrote a unanimous opinion holding that where a defendant has previously been convicted of second-degree assault in Maryland state court, by way of an Alford plea, that conviction may not be Read More

Failure To Request Informant Instruction Ineffective Assistance

Tuesday, July 6, 2010 at 12:17PM This past week, in United States v. Luck, the Fourth Circuit held that where the outcome of a criminal case might hinge on the credibility of the government’s cooperating witnesses, a defense attorney’s failure to request an “informant” jury instruction is ineffective assistance. The opinion is available here. During Read More