USSG 2D1.1: Court’s Failure to Explicitly State Drug Quantity Leads to Reversal

United States v. Garrett.    No. 13-1182.  Background. Dwayne Garrett was found guilty of possessing with intent to distribute 50 or more grams of crack cocaine and sentenced to 190 months in prison. He appeals both his conviction and sentence. Garrett was indicted, along with more than two dozen co-defendants, and charged with possession with intent to distribute 50 or more grams of crack cocaine and using a cell phone in furtherance of that crime. For the conviction of possession with …
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FRE 803 Excited Utterance Exception – Boilerplate Rules

United States v. Zuniga No. 13-1557. On November 2, 2009, Mario Zuniga was at a bar playing pool with friends when Beatrice Suarez, an ex-girlfriend, entered the bar and slapped him across his face. Zuniga immediately took Suarez out the back door of the bar to an area enclosed by a fence. Kente Johnson-Taylor, curious to see what was going on, walked to the rear of the bar, opened the back door, looked into the back fenced-in area, and saw …
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Handy Chart Determines If Driver of Rental Car Has Standing to Contest Search

United States of America v. Kenyon R. Walton.   No. 14-1177.  On August 29, 2012, Walton was a passenger in a rented Chevrolet Suburban driven by his companion, Darrallyn Smoot, when the pair was pulled over on an interstate highway for a traffic stop by a state trooper in Madison County, Illinois. According to the trooper, Walton and Smoot were nervous, their breath heavy and their hands shaking, and they gave a confusing and implausible description of their travel plans. In …
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7th Circuit Announces New Standard for Admitting FRE 404(b) Other Acts Evidence

On August 18, 2014, the 7th Circuit in a 43 page opinion annonced a new standard for admitting FRE 404(b) other acts evidence.  The new standard was announced in an en banc opinion in  US v. Gomez, 12-1104 (7th Cir. 2014)   .     Chicago Federal Criminal Defense Attorney Michael J. Petro represented Gomez at his Motion to Suppress Evidence, at trial, on direct appeal and in this en banc appeal.  In the opinion written by the Honorable Diane S. Sykes,    the all eleven Judges in the …
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Police Can Not Search Cell Phone Without a Warrant

Riley v. California, 134 S.Ct. 999 (2014).  Background: In No. 13–132, petitioner Riley was stopped for a traffic violation, which eventually led to his arrest on weapons charges. An officer searching Riley incident to the arrest seized a cell phone from Riley’s pants pocket. The officer accessed information on the phone and noticed the repeated use of a term associated with a street gang. At the police station two hours later, a detective specializing in gangs further examined the phone’s …
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Police Officer’s Good Faith Mistake of Law is NOT Reasonable Grounds for a Traffic Stop

USA v. Demarco L. McDonald,  453 F.3d 958 (7th Cir. 2006)    (Editor’s note:  the United States Sureme Court granted cert in Heien v. North Carolina, No. 13-604 on  this issue:  Whether a police officer’s mistake of law can provide the individualized suspicion that the Fourth Amendment requires to justify a traffic stop. Cert papers and the decision below can be found here:  http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/heien-v-north-carolina/   ). Demarco McDonald was arrested for possession of a firearm by a felon, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). …
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Trial Exhibits In the Jury Room: Boilerplate Rules

United States v. Loughry No.13-1385.    BACKGROUND. In 2007, United States Postal Inspection Service (“USPIS”) inspectors discovered that an internet bulletin board site called “the Cache” was providing users with access to images and videos depicting child pornography. After obtaining a search warrant, USPIS inspectors seized the Cache’s contents and began looking into the activities and identities of the site’s administrators. Investigators learned that a user named “Das”—later determined to be Delwyn Savigar—was one of the Cache’s two head administrators. …
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USSG 2X1.1 Incomplete Conspiracy Reduction – Boilerplate Rules

United States v. Dosen No. 13-2223. The defendant pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit a robbery affecting interstate commerce, in violation of the Hobbs Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1951(a), and to carrying firearms during and in relation to a crime of violence (the conspiracy to rob), in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A). The plan was that, armed with guns and other weapons, the defendant and his co-conspirators would rob a truck used by a gang of marijuana traffickers to …
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USSG 2B1.1 Number of Victims – Bank and Account Holders Are Both Victims

USA V. ROBERT LOFFREDI.  NO. 12-1124.   Robert Loffredi appeals his sentence of 78 months' imprisonment for mail fraud, 18 U.S.C. § 1341. He challenges only the district court's imposition of a two-level upward adjustment for an offense involving ten or more victims. See U.S.S.G. § 2B1.1(b)(2) (A)(i).    Loffredi owned and operated a securities brokerage firm that offered its customers investments in certificates of deposit, mutual funds, and Treasury bills. Instead of purchasing the investments requested by his customers, however, Loffredi diverted …
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Speedy Trial Act: “Ends of Justice” Continuances Require Court to Balance Interests of Pulic and Defendant

United States v. Azureeiah O’Connor, No. 09-2476 Azureeiah O’Connor was convicted by a jury of wire fraud and appeals her conviction on multiple grounds. She focuses first on the 1,229-day delay between the date the last of her codefendants was arraigned and the start of her trial, a delay that she contends violated the Speedy Trial Act (the “Act”), 18 U.S.C. § 3161 et seq. Although the court excluded all 1,229 days, the government concedes — and we agree — …
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