Polling Jury After Verdict: Dissenting Juror Impermissibly Coerced Leads to Reversal.

  USA v. LEMUREL E. WILLIAMS, No. 15-1194 Lemurel Williams was convicted of being a felon in possession of a gun.  We agree with Williams’s that a new trial is needed because the totality of the circumstances regarding the jury’s verdict was impermissibly coercive. After three hours of deliberating, the jury returned a guilty verdict, which was read aloud in court. At defense counsel’s request, the jury was polled—that is, jurors were individually asked, “Was this and is this your …
Read More »

Posted in 7th Circuit Criminal Law Alert

Residential Drug Abuse Program – BOP Changes Make Allow Greater Inmate Participation

SUMMARY: The Bureau of Prisons (Bureau) revised the Residential Drug Abuse Treatment Program (RDAP) regulations to allow greater inmate participation in the program and positively impact recidivism rates. DATES: This rule is effective on May 26, 2016. 550.55(b) Inmates not Eligible for Early Release. As an exercise of the Director’s discretion, the following categories of inmates are not eligible for early release: (1) Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees; (2) Pretrial inmates; (3) Contractual boarders (for example, State or military inmates); …
Read More »

Posted in 7th Circuit Criminal Law Alert, Press Releases, United States' Sentencing Guidelines

Expunging Your Federal Conviction – Rules You Need to Know

U.S. v PFEIFFER, Case No. 04 CR 793, U.S. District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division. (Editor’s note:  This is a District Court decision NOT 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.) April 7, 2016 In 2007, Brian Pfeiffer pled guilty to possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance, Ecstasy. Pfeiffer now moves to expunge the records of his conviction. The Court denies Pfeiffer’s motion. Pfeiffer had been successful in putting his past behind him and maintaining uninterrupted employment. In 2015, Pfeiffer …
Read More »

Posted in 7th Circuit Criminal Law Alert, News

Search and Seizure Traffic Stop – Suspicion of Texting While Driving Is Not Enough. Case Dismissed.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA v. PANIAGUA-GARCIA, No. 15-2540 An Indiana statute forbids drivers to use a telecommunications device (a cellphone) to type, transmit, or read a text message or an electronic-mail message, Ind. Code § 9-21-8-59(a). All other uses of cellphones by drivers are allowed.  An Indiana police officer, in the course of passing a car driven by Paniagua-Garcia on an interstate highway, saw that the driver was holding a cellphone in his right hand, that his head was bent toward the phone, and that …
Read More »

Posted in 7th Circuit Criminal Law Alert, Search and Seizure

Search and Seizure Traffic Stop by Police: Officers Mistake Regarding Illinois Turn Signal Law Leads to Suppression of Evidence

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, v. LESHAWN STANBRIDGE, No. 15-2686. LeShawn Stanbridge appeals his conviction for possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). The drugs had been found in Stanbridge’s car after police in Quincy, Illinois, detained him on the ground that he committed a traffic offense by not signaling continuously for 100 feet before pulling alongside the curb to park. That understanding of Illinois law was wrong, but the district court decided that the mistake was reasonable and denied Stanbridge’s motion to suppress the drugs. …
Read More »

Posted in 7th Circuit Criminal Law Alert, News, Search and Seizure

FRE 701 Opinion Testimony by Lay Witnesses – Boilerplate Rules

United States v. Terry Joe Smith, Nos. 14-3744 & 14-3721.   Terry Joe Smith, a police officer in Putnam County, Indiana (roughly midway between Indianapolis and Terre Haute), was convicted by a jury in federal court of violating 18 U.S.C. § 242 by depriving two persons, under color of state law (which is to say in Smith’s capacity as a police officer), of their constitutional right not to be subjected to the intentional use of unreasonable and excessive force. In short, …
Read More »

Posted in 7th Circuit Criminal Law Alert, Federal Rules of Evidence

USSG 2B1.1 – Honest Services Fraud “Value of Benefit Received” Explained

United States v. Harper, No. 14-2701.   The defendant pleaded guilty to fraud consisting of her having abused her position as a member of a Chicago public-school board by accepting kickbacks of more than $500,000 from bus companies to which she steered transportation contracts worth $21 million. The parties stipulated that the value of the benefit received from the fraud was between $7 and $20 million.    Honesty The guidelines in effect at the time required a 20-level enhancement for honest services fraud when …
Read More »

Posted in 7th Circuit Criminal Law Alert, United States' Sentencing Guidelines

Honest Services Fraud – “Value of Benefit Received” Explained

United States v. Harper, No. 14-2701.   The defendant pleaded guilty to fraud consisting of her having abused her position as a member of a Chicago public-school board by accepting kickbacks of more than $500,000 from bus companies to which she steered transportation contracts worth $21 million. The parties stipulated that the value of the benefit received from the fraud was between $7 and $20 million.    The guidelines in effect at the time required a 20-level enhancement for honest services fraud when "the …
Read More »

Posted in Press Releases

Eyewitness Identification – Watershed Decision Identifies Fallibility of Eyewitness Identifications

People of the State of Illinois v. Eduardo Lerma, No. 118496. Editor’s Note –  This is an Illinois Supreme Court Opinion. The issue is whether, in light of the specific facts and circumstances of this case, the circuit court of Cook County abused its discretion when it denied defendant’s motion to allow expert testimony concerning the reliability of eyewitness identifications. For the reasons that follow, we hold that it did. The evidence of defendant’s guilt consists solely of two eyewitness …
Read More »

Posted in 7th Circuit Criminal Law Alert, Eyewitness Identification, News, Press Releases

Requirements for Stash House Enhancement

(Editors Note:  Chicago Federal Criminal Defense Attorney Michael J. Petro represented Mr. Sanchez in the District Court and in the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.) Acasio Sanchez pleaded guilty to conspiring to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute heroin and cocaine, 21 U.S.C. §§ 846, 841(a)(1), and was sentenced below the guidelines range to 40 months’ imprisonment. Sanchez argues that the district court erred by applying a two-level enhancement for “maintain[ing] a premise for the purposes of manufacturing or …
Read More »

Posted in 7th Circuit Criminal Law Alert, News