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“Federal prosecutors . . . represent the people of the United States. But so do defense lawyers – one at a time.”-  John Roberts
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  • Criminal Defense
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Practice Areas

Eighth Circuit Affirms Federal Sentence Imposed Concurrent to State Sentence

Some of the most complex and problematic issues in federal sentencing involve the interaction between simultaneous state and federal sentences. These include whether such sentences run concurrently or consecutively to each other, where is the optimal place to serve time for prison credit purposes, when concurrent sentencing is mandatory or simply discretionary, and when […]

By |August 12th, 2013|Blog|Comments Off|

Eighth Circuit Upholds Admission of Defendant’s Proffer Statements at Trial

The relentless efficiency of our criminal justice system depends on frequent and candid plea discussions. That’s why Congress adopted Rule 410 of the Federal Rules of Evidence, which provides that statements made during plea discussions are inadmissible at trial – a rule that courts, applying legislative intent, have extended to the impeachment context. But […]

By |August 2nd, 2013|Blog|Comments Off|

Eighth Circuit Remands for Resentencing Under United States v. Alleyne

Whether a defendant “brandished” a firearm, thereby triggering a seven-year rather than a five-year consecutive sentence, is an element of the crime that must be submitted to a jury, since it increases the mandatory minimum penalty, the Supreme Court held in United States v. Alleyne, 133 S.Ct. 2151 (2013). This decision has prompted a […]

By |August 2nd, 2013|Blog|Comments Off|

Eighth Circuit Affirms Denial of Safety Valve Relief

As reported here and here, there are several measures afoot in Congress to free sentencing judges from having to impose mandatory minimum sentences in cases where a shorter sentence or an alternative to incarceration is more appropriate. As Brooklyn District Judge John Gleeson has explained in United States v. Vasquez, 2010 WL 1257359 (E.D.N.Y. […]

By |August 2nd, 2013|Blog|Comments Off|

Eighth Circuit Affirms District Court’s Exclusion of Prejudicial Evidence

A defendant’s voice on tape – even if ambiguously incriminating – can overwhelm other evidence at trial. So it’s hardly surprising that the prosecutor fought to introduce – to the point of taking an interlocutory appeal – Christopher Condon’s taped call to his mother from jail, in which he said “[b]asically, I’m guilty, but […]

By |August 2nd, 2013|Blog|Comments Off|

Eighth Circuit Reiterates ACCA Maximum Penalty is Life

Sometimes, the best sentencing argument can be a rule of grammar or of statutory construction. In United States v. Walker, issued on July 12, 2013, the Eighth Circuit repeated its prior holding, consistent with every other circuit to address this issue, that the Armed Career Criminal Statute (18 U.S.C. 924(e)), which provides for a […]

By |August 2nd, 2013|Blog|Comments Off|

Eighth Circuit Holds Front Yard Is Not Curtilage

The sanctity of the home, where an individual is free from unreasonable government intrusion, includes its “curtilage,” the area immediately surrounding and associated with the home. The definition of curtilage, despite its 14th Century origins, has considerable resonance in the technological age. We can now add to this arcane but topical jurisprudence the decision […]

By |August 2nd, 2013|Blog|Comments Off|

NACDL Publishes Special Issue of Champion Dedicated to Brady

The NACDL’s May 2013 issue of the Champion is now available on its website. It is dedicated to Brady v. Maryland, 50 years old this year, and includes an article by JaneAnne Murray entitled “The Brady Battle,” which draws from recent high-profile cases and published decisions to map ways in which defense lawyers can […]

By |July 19th, 2013|Blog|Comments Off|

Eighth Circuit Affirms 87-Year Sentence of 18-Year-Old Robber

The European Court of Human Rights recently ruled that a sentence of life without the possibility of parole is a human rights violation, and recent Supreme Court rulings suggest that the U.S. could be trending in this direction, Graham v. Florida (juvenile life without parole, JLWOP, for non-homicide offenses is cruel and un-usual punishment) […]

By |July 19th, 2013|Blog|Comments Off|

Eighth Circuit Finds No Violation of Testifying Defendant’s Fifth Amendment Rights

Less than 3% of federal criminal cases are tried, and the defendant testifies in only a fraction of those. So the issue raised in United States v. Musk, July 2, 2013, is a relatively obscure one: leaving aside strategic considerations, under what circumstances can a testifying defendant legally reassert his Fifth Amendment rights? Hardly […]

By |July 19th, 2013|Blog|Comments Off|