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Showing posts from April, 2008

In the absence of standardized impoundment procedure, officer may reasonably impound vehicle

United States v. Smith, No. 06-3112 (3d Cir. April 9, 2008)

Lancaster police arrested the driver and passenger of a car stopped in an area "in which parked vehicles were subject to being damaged, vandalized, or stolen." Police could not identify the owner of the vehicle, although they were able to determine that it did not belong to either occupant. Based on these facts, one of the officers decided to impound the vehicle, and during a subsequent inventory search discovered a handgun in the glove compartment. After losing a motion to suppress firearm, the defendant entered a conditional plea to a violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g) and 924(c).

On appeal, the defendant argued that the decision to impound the car had to "be exercised pursuant to standardized criteria or the seizure is unconstitutional." The defendant further argued that the Lancaster Police Department did not have a standard procedure regarding the impounding of vehicles. Notably, the defendant did n…

Third Circuit lacks jurisdiction to hear defendant's appeal that speedy trial motion should've been dismissed with prejudice.

United States v. Martin Kuper, No. 07-1916 (3d Cir. April 7, 2008)

Before the district court, the defendant filed a motion to dismiss his indictment, alleging a violation of the Speedy Trial Act. The district court granted the motion, but dismissed the indictment without prejudice. The defendant appealed, arguing the indictment should have been dismissed with prejudice. The Third Circuit dismissed the appeal, stating that it lacked jurisdiction.

The Court explained that the district court's ruling was not a "final order" for purposes of 28 U.S.C. § 1291. Citing the Supreme Court's decision in United States v. MacDonald, 435 U.S. 850 (1978), which held that a motion to dismiss for a Sixth Amendment speedy trial violation was not a final order, the Third Circuit held that a violation of the Speedy Trial Act likewise, did not "represent a final rejection of a defendant's claim." Instead, the Court recognized that the defendant would be able to "appeal t…

“Identity theft” sentencing enhancement does not apply to altering addresses on clients’ financial statements

Update: On April 22, 2008, the Court filed the amended opinion. It appears to be substantially the same as the original.

Update: On April 17, 2008, the Court vacated its opinion and judgment sua sponte, explaining that an amended opinion will be filed forthwith.

In United States v. Hawes, No. 06-3334 (3d Cir. Mar. 27, 2008), the Court of Appeals held that the district court erroneously applied a two-level "identity theft" enhancement under § 2B1.1(b)(9)(C)(i) [now § 2B1.1(b)(10)(C)(i)] because the defendant’s conduct did not qualify for the enhancement. Hawes, an investment advisor, was convicted of defrauding his clients of monies that they had entrusted to him. As part of his fraudulent conduct, he changed the addresses to which his clients’ account statements were mailed so that the statements were sent directly to his office address. The Court held that changing an address does not constitute "produc[ing] or obtain[ing] any other means of identification," as re…