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Showing posts from September, 2012

Court articulates factors for egregious and widespread violations of Fourth Amendment and whether consent is voluntary

In Oliva-Ramos v. Attorney General of the U.S., --- F.3d ----, 2012 WL 4017478 (3d Cir. Sept 13, 2012), an appeal from an order of removal and denial of the petitioner’s motion to reopen the proceedings, the Third Circuit remanded for proceedings to determine whether a 4:30 a.m. ICE raid into an apartment, with five or six armed officers, violated the Fourth Amendment and similar regulatory provisions. The officers presented an administrative arrest warrant for one person at the apartment of her sister. The subject of the warrant was not home, but the officers, with questionable consent by the sister, entered the apartment, woke everyone inside, questioned them, blocked their exit, kept them sitting down, and eventually arrested anyone who could not document he was legally present in the United States. The arrestees were handcuffed, placed in a van, and driven to other locations, while agents conducted more raids and filled the van with more people. An immigration judge ordered …

When Considering a Request By the Government to Modify the Terms of Supervised Release, a Court May Not Impose Any New Terms That Would Create a Greater Deprivation of Liberty Than Necessary to Achieve The Sentencing Goals Established in 18 U.S.C. §3553(a).

In United States v. Murray, Nos. 11-3196, 11-3197 (3d Cir. September 5, 2012), the Third Circuit considered the question of when it is appropriate for a district court to modify the conditions of supervised release.  District courts have the authority under 18 U.S.C. §3583(e)(2) to change the terms of supervised release after proper consideration of the factors listed in 18 U.S.C. §3553(a).  Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure §32.1(c) requires that a hearing be held before any change in supervision conditions.  Also, the defendant has a right to attend the hearing with his attorney and present mitigating arguments.  The Third Circuit held, in this case, that a district court may only grant a request to modify the terms of supervised release when the changes will not result in a greater deprivation of liberty than is necessary to achieve the purposes of sentencing set forth in §3553(a). When approving new terms and conditions, the district court must explain how the changes are co…

Weapons suppressed: random male observed in a conversation being shown a gun did not give reasonable suspicion to detain him, and subsequent flight did not elevate encounter to probable cause to arrest.

In United States v. Navedo, No. 11-3413 (3d Cir. Sept. 12, 2012), http://www.ca3.uscourts.gov/opinarch/113413p.pdf, undercover officers were parked on a block in Newark, which was not found to be a high crime area, but in which there were two, recent unrelated incidents involving guns: two months before a shooting occurred, and one month before there was a domestic violence report of a man threatening a woman with a gun. The officers observed the defendant, whom they did not know, come out of a multi-unit building and stand on the porch. Two men approached, and the defendant walked down from the porch to speak with them. The conversation appeared ordinary and then one of the approaching men took from his backpack and showed to the defendant what appeared to be a gun. The officers approached and the men ran. The defendant ran into the building, up two flights of stairs, and attempted to enter his apartment. Officers tackled him in the doorway to the apartment and there were weapo…

The Prohibition Against General Sentences Does Not Apply to Non-Guideline Sentences.

United States v. Martorano, No. 11-2864 (3d Cir. September 5, 2012)

    George Martorano was charged with nineteen counts in relation to the wholesale distribution of drugs, including conspiring to distribute drugs and supervising a Continuing Criminal Enterprise (CCE). He pled guilty to all nineteen counts.   In 1998, he was sentenced to life in prison. The district court did not issue a sentence for each individual count, but rather imposed a general sentence of life imprisonment. Notably, life imprisonment exceeded the statutory maximum on 18 of the 19 counts; only the CCE count allowed for a life term.

     Mr. Martorano filed numerous appeals and post-conviction motions over the years. In this appeal, Mr. Martorano argued that under the Third Circuit’s holding in United States v. Ward, 626 F.3d 179 (3d Cir. 2010), his general sentence was illegal. In Ward, the Court reversed the 25-year general sentence, which exceeded the statutory maximum on 3 of the 5 counts, becaus…

Crack reduction cases: Court upholds denial of proportional reductions below amended guideline range to account for variance in original sentence

In United States v. Berberena (Sept. 11, 2012), , the Court affirmed denials of sentence reductions below the amended Guideline range in two crack reduction cases. When Amendment 750 to the Sentencing Guidelines implemented the Fair Sentencing Act by reducing the crack-powder disparity, the defendants moved for sentence reductions under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2). Both defendants had received below Guideline sentences. In making Amendment 750 retroactive, the Sentencing Commission also adopted a new version of U.S.S.G. § 1B1.10, the policy statement governing “Reduction in Term of Imprisonment as a Result of Amended Guideline Range.” As amended, §1B1.10 provides that “the court shall not reduce the defendant’s term of imprisonment . . . to a term that is less than the minimum of the amended guideline range.” § 1B1.10(b)(2)(A) (Nov. 2011). The one exception is for defendants who provided substantial assistance to the government. § 1B1.10(b)(2)(B) (Nov. 2011). Before the 2011 amend…