Category Archives: NLKJ Blog

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 The (nonprecedential) opinion merely says they were stopped by a State Trooper while driving through Illinois.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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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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Are you really operating that car?

For years NLKJ lawyers have argued with Prosecutors about what “operating” a vehicle means. It seems like it should be an easy answer, but for many years our Indiana legislature did not clearly define the term. You may not be operating a vehicle if you’re in a parking spot and the car is turned off.…
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So just how drunk and annoying do you need to be to get arrested?

In 2012 the Indiana legislature amended the public intoxication statute. Since then a lot of ink has been spilled in Indiana Courts trying to interpret the legislature’s intent. The new statute reads in relevant part: It is a Class B misdemeanor for a person to be in a public place or a place of public…
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