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Eighth Circuit Vacates $500,000 Fine in Drug Distribution and Stolen Goods Case

The Eighth Circuit affirmed Richard Allen Kay’s 200-month sentence for marijuana distribution, money laundering and conspiracy to engage in interstate transportation of stolen diamonds, in United States v. Kay, issued on June 25, 2013, rejecting along the way the argument that “the nation’s growing public acceptance of marijuana” merited a lower sentence. But the […]

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

Lessons from One High-Profile Criminal Prosecution

As criticism of the special prosecutor in the George Zimmerman trial mounts in the wake of a not guilty verdict that was as proper as it was predictable in light of the evidence, it is worth comparing the case to another high-profile prosecution – the Manhattan D.A.’s prosecution of Dominique Strauss-Kahn. As I explain […]

By |July 15th, 2013|Blog|Comments Off|

Eighth Circuit Reverses Because Joint Representation Was Conflict of Interest

When is a criminal defense lawyer’s performance so compromised that a prosecutor or court should intervene? When is a defendant’s knowing and voluntary waiver of his counsel’s conflicts not enough to cure the problem? These are the silent issues raised by Plunk v. Hobbs, issued July 3, 2013, in which the Eighth Circuit reversed […]

By |July 15th, 2013|Blog|Comments Off|

Eighth Circuit Upholds Supervised Release Condition in Child Porn Case

Sex offender treatment programs, among a variety of objectives, focus on reducing deviant sexual arousal and developing healthy attitudes towards sex and relationships. So it’s not just civil libertarians, but also therapeutic professionals, who may have misgivings about a supervised release condition imposed on Steven Fonder upon his conviction for possession and distribution of […]

By |July 15th, 2013|Blog|Comments Off|

Eighth Circuit Affirms Finding of No Brady Violation

Open-file discovery may moot specific requests for Brady material, but does not substitute for them. Not all information favorable to the accused is memorialized or contained in the prosecutor’s file. In fact, as we learned in the prosecution of the late Sen. Ted Stevens, some agents and prosecutors may deliberately refrain from memorializing the […]

By |June 24th, 2013|Blog|Comments Off|

Eighth Circuit Finds No Abuse of Discretion in Denying Change of Venue Motion

Most change of venue motions involve a defendant trying to escape into anonymity not from it. One would expect this to be especially true in a case involving child pornography charges, but perhaps in a reflection of how punitive the law has become in this area, Dustin Worthey sought to invoke “the public policy […]

By |June 18th, 2013|Blog|Comments Off|

Eighth Circuit Remands Because Predicate Not A Crime of Violence

Some of the thorniest issues under the Sentencing Guidelines (and also the most devastating in terms of sentencing exposure) involve analyzing a defendant’s prior criminal history. In United States v. Roblero-Ramirez, issued on June 17, 2013, and in the context of a rare rejection of an Anders brief, the Eighth Circuit scrutinized a 16-level […]

By |June 18th, 2013|Blog|Comments Off|

Eighth Circuit Affirms Convictions of Several Career/Habitual Offenders

So often, the federal criminal defendant’s problem is not his or her most current case, but rather the impact of prior ones. This is starkly presented in several recent cases affirmed by the Eighth Circuit: United States v. Adams, issued June 11, 2013; United States v. Capps, issued on June 11, 2013; United States […]

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

Eighth Circuit Affirms Involuntary Medication of Defendant Facing SORNA Charges

As the recent controversy over the collection of DNA samples from arrestees underlines, compelled intrusion into an individual’s body implicates profound expectations of privacy and security. Hence, the Supreme Court’s establishment in Sell v. United States of stringent conditions before a defendant may be medicated involuntarily for trial competence purposes – instances, the Court concluded, would be “rare.” In United States v. Mackey, issued on June 10, 2013, the Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court’s conclusion that the Sell factors permitted involuntary medication of a defendant facing charges under SORNA for failing to register as a sex offender. Notably, the only expert testimony presented in the case came from professionals employed by the Bureau of Prisons, and the case illustrates the uphill battle a defendant faces without an expert – and the resources that typically implies – in his corner.


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

Eighth Circuit Analyzes Evidentiary Issues Relating to GPS Tracking

In United States v. Brooks, issued on May 28, 2013, the Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court’s admission of evidence from a GPS tracking device at Brooks’ trial for offenses related to a bank robbery. The case highlights some creative – if ultimately unsuccessful – challenges to technologically-advanced investigative techniques.

The device had been concealed […]

By |June 3rd, 2013|Blog|Comments Off|