ONE JUDGE DIES FROM AN OVERDOSE–SECOND JUDGE CHARGED WITH POSSESSION

Michael Cook, St. Clair County, Illinois drug court judge resigned after he was charged in Federal Court with possession of heroin and related weapons charges. His friend and colleague on the bench, Judge Joseph D. Christ, a former prosecutor died in Cook’s family hunting cabin from a cocaine overdose in March. Cook was the only other person present in the lodge but he is not considered a suspect. At the time of his arrest Cook was at the residence of […] Read more »

SECOND CIRCUIT UPHOLDS FIREARMS STATUTE AGAINST SECOND AMENDMENT CHALLENGE

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the conviction of Ron Bryant for possessing a firearm to further a drug trafficking offense against a Second Amendment challenge. It held that District of Columbia v. Heller only applies to those who possess weapons for legal reasons and possessing a gun to further a drug offense is illegal and therefore not covered by the Second Amendment. Bryant was arrested after officers executing a search warrant at his residence found just under a […] Read more »

WRIT OF CERTIORARI DENIED BUT PROSECUTOR CRITICIZED FOR RACIST COMMENTS

The losing party in a case before a state supreme court or a Circuit Court of Appeals may appeal to the United States Supreme Court if there is a Federal issue involved in the litigation or if the parties are from different states. The way to do so is to file a petition for a writ of certiorari. It takes the votes of four justices to agree to hear the appeal. If the Supreme Court decides to hear the case […] Read more »

CAREER OFFENDER DENIED RIGHT TO WITHDRAW PLEA

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the appeal of Isaiah Earl Thomas, challenging the trial court’s denial of his motion to withdraw his guilty plea to distributing less than fifty kilograms of marijuana, possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense, and possessing a firearm following a conviction for domestic violence. At the time of his plea the court told him that he faced a maximum sentence of life in prison. Both his attorney and the Assistant […] Read more »

SUPREME COURT HOLDS WITHDRAWAL FROM A CONSPIRACY REQUIRES AN AFFIRMATIVE ACT

Calvin Smith was charged along with 16 others in a 156 count indictment alleging drug and RICO conspiracies in Washington D. C. He was charged in the conspiracy counts and with committing four murders. He appealed the conspiracy counts claiming that he left the conspiracy over five years prior to the indictment and therefore the statute of limitations had run and the convictions must be reversed. It is clear that he did not participate in the conspiracy during the six […] Read more »

IMMIGRATION OFFENSES CONTINUE TO GROW

The United States Sentencing Commission publishes an annual statistical study of crime in the United States based upon a review of those sentenced in the Federal Courts. The 2011 report is now available. It shows a constant increase in immigration related convictions which now account for 34.9 per cent of convictions. In second place is drug convictions which amount to 29.1 per cent of convictions. One thing the report clearly shows is the racial nature of the criminal justice system […] Read more »

COURT FINDS 26 MONTH PRETRIAL DETENTION NOT A VIOLATION OF DUE PROCESS

Antonio Briggs was arraigned on August 17, 2010 for his alleged involvement in a major multi-defendant, multi-count narcotics prosecution. On September 1, 2010 he was ordered detained without bail pending trial in the matter. Pretrial detention cannot be used for punitive purposes. Pretrial detention is only permissible to insure the defendant’s presence at trial or when a defendant is a danger to society. However there is a presumption in Federal narcotics cases where the maximum sentence is over ten years […] Read more »

COURT UPHOLDS NARCOTERRORISM CONVICTION

Khan Mohammed, was involved in a plot to obtain missles for an attack on the NATO Jalalabad airfield in Afghanistan. He was contacted by a man named, Jaweed who wanted to help him. Jaweed had a source from who he could get missles. But Jaweed soon went to work for the Afghani police and the DEA as an informant. The original plan was that Jaweed would get missles, turn them over to Mohammed and the authorities would then arrest Mohammed. […] Read more »

FLORIDA DRUG LAW UPHELD DESPITE LACK OF MENS REA REQUIREMENT

In the United States the law requires that the prosecutor prove the guilt of each defendant at trial by a beyond a reasonable doubt standard. This means that the prosecutor must prove each element of each charge. The defendant need not prove his innocense but the prosecutor must prove guilt. For each criminal statute the statute itself or the courts have delineated certain elements that must be proved by the state. For the most part states are free to designate […] Read more »

SEVENTH CIRCUIT FINDS ARREST AND STRIP SEARCH MEETS CONSTITUTIONAL REQUIREMENTS

Tyron D. Freeman, a petty drug dealer, with a long history of drug convictions was arrested in Springfield, Illinois in a drug sting run by the local police with the help of a couple of snitches. One of the snitches told the police that dealers—“Big D” (Freeman) and “Worm” (Brent Garner) drove around town in a silver minivan selling crack. The snitch also told the officers that Freeman often kept the dope between his buttocks and that he suffered from […] Read more »