Monthly Archives: March 2015

USA vs. Tommy Webster

Tommy Lee Webster, Jr. was charged in the South Bend Division in the Northern District of Indiana in an indictment that alleged: possession with intent to distribute cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1); possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c); manufacture of…
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Remand Even With Below Guidelines Sentence

Carl Morris pled guilty to one count of distribution of crack cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). Although the district court sentenced him below the guidelines range, it did so without addressing his principal arguments in mitigation. Because the court did not consider Morris' arguments in deciding his sentence, the case was remanded…
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Prosecutor, then Judge, then Remand

The Seventh Circuit ruled today that the public's confidence in the federal judiciary might be undermined if the Judge, who once served as the defendant's prosecutor, sentenced the same defendant in a case before her. Judge Posner, writing for the Court in in USA v. Jessie A. Smith ruled that a sentencing "do-over" was necessary…
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Special Conditions of Supervised Release

In USA v. Jeremy S. Cary, the 7th Circuit held that the special conditions of supervised release “must: (1) be reasonably related to the factors identified in § 3553(a), include the nature and circumstances of the offense and the history and characteristics of the defendant; (2) involve no greater deprivation of liberty than is reasonably…
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Withdrawing from a Federal Plea Agreement

Typically, once you enter a plea agreement (especially in federal court) the defendant is stuck. Federal Judges do a great job making sure the defendant's plea is knowingly, voluntary and with full understanding of the consequences. USA v. Siamak Fard is a case about how difficult the plea process really is and how defense lawyers…
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$495,744

Abdel Alsharfa and Tristan Elcock were definitely up to something. And, they had no real explanation why they were carrying almost $500,000 in cash. But, they broke no laws. The (nonprecedential) opinion merely says they were stopped by a State Trooper while driving through Illinois. While the trooper spoke with Alsharfa and Elcock he smelled…
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Can “Victims” Testify at a Federal Sentencing?

Steven Salutric pleaded guilty to committing wire fraud (with a $3.8 million loss) in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343 and was ordered to serve a below-Guidelines sentence of 96 months. Salutric appealed and contended the district court committed error at sentencing when it took into consideration two victim impact statements submitted by people who…
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Cooperation and the Federal “Safety Valve”

Reynaldo Ortiz pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess heroin with the intent to distribute under 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), 846, and received the statutory minimum prison sentence of 10 years. Reynaldo argued that his cooperation with law enforcement after his arrest qualified him for “safety valve” relief from the statutory minimum. The safety valve provision…
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Conditions of Supervised Release

The Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 replaced parole for federal crimes with supervised release. Parole of federal convicts was granted by an administrative agency after a convicted defendant began serving his sentence. An inmate granted parole was released from prison before the expiration of his term, but became subject to restrictions imposed by the agency…
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GPS and the Fourth Amendment

In United States v. Taylor, the Indianapolis police department attached, without a warrant, a GPS unit to a suspected drug dealer’s car. After gathering location data from the GPS they learned the car made several stops at a storage unit. Based on that information, they asked a Court to issue a search warrant for the…
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