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Showing posts from April, 2012

Guideline Enhancement Not Mentioned in Rule 11(c)(1)(C) Plea Agreement Applies to Defendant

In United States v. Dahmen, No. 11-1521 (March 27, 2012), the Third Circuit addressed an interesting issue of whether the Government violated a Rule 11(c)(1)(C) plea agreement when it recommended a Chapter 4 enhancement that was not specifically mentioned in the plea agreement.

The Defendant pleaded guilty to transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2423(a) and possession of material depicting the sexual exploitation of a minor, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252(a)(4)(B). The agreement specified the base offense level for each count and referenced certain sentencing enhancements pursuant to Chapters 2 and 3 of the Guidelines, but made no mention of any enhancements pursuant to Chapter 4. The agreement also contained a waiver of appellate rights subject to three limited exceptions: (1) if the Government appealed; (2) if the sentence exceeded the statutory maximum; or (3) if the sentence exceeded the applicable Guidelines ra…

Court rejects sufficiency challenge to knowledge of conspiracy; finds no error in not granting new trial, use immunity, or suppression

Court rejects sufficiency challenge to knowledge of the conspiracy; finds no error in not granting a new trial, refusing to grant use immunity to a co-conspirator, and not suppressing statements and weapons; and affirms sentences.

In United States v. Whiteford, 10-1023 & 10-1373 (3d Cir. Apr. 13, 2012), two defendants were convicted after a jury trial of conspiracy, 18 U.S.C. § 371, involving bid rigging and contract steering, and related offenses. Both defendants were officers in the U.S. Army Reserves deployed to Iraq from 2003 to 2004 who held positions in a regional office of the Coalition Provisional Authority which made them responsible for selecting and managing reconstruction projects and overseeing disbursement of millions of dollars. Six other people, including two businessmen, other reserve officers, and contract employees, were also charged with and pleaded guilty to this conspiracy. The Third Circuit affirmed the convictions and sentences.

First, the Court found the…

Rules of Evidence (not Bruton) apply to admission of non-testimonial statements, § 924(j) incorporates 924(c)'s consecutive sentencing scheme . . .

The Rules of Evidence (not Bruton) apply to admission of non-testimonial statements by co-defendants, 18 U.S.C. § 924(j) incorporates the consecutive sentencing scheme of 924(c), and other trial issues deemed not reversible error (improper admission of 404(b) evidence, prosecutorial misconduct and jury charges).

United States & Gov’t of Virgin Islands v. Berrios, Nos. 07-2818, 07-2887, 07-2888 and 07-2904 (3d Cir. Apr. 10, 2012), is an appeal from a four defendant trial for the federal charges of carjacking, attempted robbery, 18 U.S.C. § 924(c), and causing the death of a person through use of a firearm, 18 U.S.C. § 924(j), and the Virgin Island charges of felony murder and unauthorized use of a firearm. The Court affirmed the convictions and sentences. While the Court primarily addressed the intersection between the Confrontation Clause and Federal Rules of Evidence and between 18 U.S.C. §§ 924(c) and (j), this case provides a good outline of the relevant appellate analysis o…

Clear Error Standard of Review Applies to a District Court's Application of U.S.S.G. Section 2C1.2(b)(3)

In, United States v. Richards, No. 10-4767, the Third Circuit affirmed the district court's application of U.S.S.G. Section 2C1.2(b)(3) to the defendant.

Richards, the former Director of Human Resources for the government of Luzerne County, pled guilty to violating 18 U.S.C. § 666(a)(1)(B), for accepting a bribe in excess of $1,000 but less than $5,000 in connection with assistance given a consulting firm interested in contracting with Luzerne County. Richards accepted $1,000 and free New York Mets tickets. In exchange, he helped Continental Consultants to obtain a contract with Luzerne County to provide temporary employment services for individuals hired to perform cleanup work in the aftermath of a 2006 flood. At the sentencing hearing, Richards objected to the court’s application of a four-level enhancement pursuant to § 2C1.2(b)(3), which applies to “an elected public official or any public official in a high-level decision-making or sensitive position.” The commentary defi…

Supervised Release Statute Specifies No Aggregate Limit on Post-Revocation Imprisonment

Joining two other circuits, the Third Circuit rules in United States v. Williams, No. 11-2267 (Apr. 3, 2012), that the principal federal supervised release statute does not specify any aggregate limit on the length of imprisonment that may be imposed for successive violations. Instead, the Court holds, the maximum sentences specified in the statute may be freshly imposed upon each and every revocation.

Under 18 U.S.C. § 3583(e)(3), a defendant whose supervised release is revoked may be required "to serve in prison all or part of the term of supervised release authorized by statute for the offense that resulted in such term of supervised release." The "term of supervised release authorized by statute" depends on the classification of the underlying offense. For a Class A felony, for example, the maximum is ordinarily five years; for a Class C felony, it is three years. See 18 U.S.C. § 3583(b).

Ms. Williams argued that these limits apply in the aggregate to all post-re…