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Showing posts from February, 2006

3d Cir rejects Speedy Trial challenge

The Third Circuit recently addressed a number of issues in United States v. Willaman, No. 05-1336 (3d Cir. Feb. 17, 2006). Willaman appealed his 18 U.S.C. § 922 conviction based on, among other things, the Second Amendment and the Speedy Trial Act. The Third Circuit quickly disposed of the Second Amendment argument, relying on United States v. Rybar, 103 F.3d 273 (3d Cir. 1996).

Next, the Court addressed Willaman’s speedy trial challenge. The Court noted that the Speedy Trial Act requires that a defendant pleading not guilty be tried within 70 days of either the filing date of the indictment or "the date the defendant has appeared before a judicial officer . . ., whichever date last occurs." Willaman was indicted on May 11, 2004. He then appeared before a magistrate for a detention hearing on May 12, 2004 and pleaded not guilty at his arraignment on May 17, 2004. Based upon dictum in United States v. Carrasquillo, 667 F.2d 382 (3d Cir. 1981), the Court decided that Willaman’s…

3rd Cir., en banc, holds Booker inapplicable to forfeiture/restitution

The Third Circuit, in a very fractured en banc decision in United States v. Leahy, (3d Cir. Feb. 15, 2005), has ruled that Booker does not apply to either forfeiture or restitution. The 6-5 decision addresses both issues thoroughly and creates a number of splits among the judges, resulting in six different opinions. The issues are addressed as follows:

The Court, per Circuit Judge Fuentes, initially held that the Supreme Court’s pre-Apprendi decision in Libretti v. United States, 516 U.S. 29 (1995), still binds the circuit courts despite any erosion to the decision that has occurred since the 1995 Libretti decision. In Libretti, the defendant argued that his plea colloquy was inadequate because the district court failed to inform him of his right to a special jury verdict regarding forfeiture under former FRCP 31(e). The Supreme Court held otherwise, indicating "that a defendant does not enjoy a constitutional right to a jury determination as to the appropriate sentence to be impo…

Third Circuit rules on Booker reasonableness review, jurisdiction, etc.

In United States v. Cooper, (3d Cir. Feb. 14, 2006), the Third Circuit has touched on a number of sentencing issues affecting the federal courts since the Supreme Court decided United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220 (2005), more than a year ago. First, the Court rejected, 2-1, the government’s assertion that the circuit court did not have jurisdiction to review post-Booker sentences imposed within the guidelines for unreasonableness. The Court affirmatively rules that it does, in fact, have jurisdiction under 18 U.S.C. § 3742(a)(1) to review for reasonableness. The Court states that an unreasonable sentence is one imposed "in violation of law," under § 3742(a)(1). The Court did not address whether a district court's imposition of a sentence "greater than necessary" under § 3553(a)'s parsimony provision is likewise imposed "in violation of law" under § 3742(a)(1). The Court also indicates that it may have such jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291. J…

Third Circuit Reverses District Court’s Order Granting § 2254 Petition for Habeas Corpus

In Satterfield v. Johnson, No. 04-3108 (3d Cir. Jan. 17, 2006), the Third Circuit held that a petition for post-conviction relief that was improperly filed under state law may not be considered "properly filed" for purposes of AEDPA’s tolling statute, § 2244(d)(2). Appeal was taken from the district court’s order granting state inmate’s habeas application under § 2254 based on counsel’s ineffective assistance. The Third Circuit deemed petitioner’s King’s Bench Petition to be improperly filed in the state court proceedings because, inter alia, he filed it with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court instead of the court in which he was convicted, contrary to Pennsylvania’s Post Conviction Relief Act ("PCRA"). Such an improperly filed petition did not toll AEDPA’s one-year statute of limitations, and thus his federal habeas petition was deemed time-barred unless equitable principles warranted tolling of the statute of limitations. In this case, where there were no allegations…