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 »

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 »

CONVICTION FOR BEING A FELON IN POSSESSION OF A FIREARM UPHELD DESPITE MIRANDA AND EVIDENTIARY ISSUES

Eric Murdock was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm and sentenced to 216 months in prison under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA). He had three predicate offenses subjecting him to the 15 year minimum sentence of the ACCA. He was released on bail in an unrelated case with the conditions that he not possess any weapons and that he submit his residence to search and seizure. Shortly after he was released a Bureau of Alcohol, […] Read more »

A THREAT THAT ISN’T

Last week the Internet made a big deal about a former Yale student accused of making an on-line threat to kill children. He was arrested by police in his hometown of Valencia, California where he lives with his parents. ESPN immediately took the alleged threat off-line and none of the news articles have the precise quote. He was participating in an on-line discussion of the high price of children’s athletic shoes. But apparently he said something to the effect that […] Read more »

INNOCENT NORTH CAROLINIANS BEING KEPT IN PRISON

Many innocent North Carolinians are serving time in Federal prisons and no one seems to know how to get them out. Many Federal laws are either applicable to only those who have a prior felony conviction or require an aggravated sentence if the defendant has a prior felony conviction. A felon is defined as anyone who was convicted of a crime to which the maximum sentence is over one year. North Carolina developed a unique sentencing procedure called “structured sentencing.” […] Read more »

FIRST CIRCUIT UPHOLDS SEARCH OF RESIDENCE AND FAILURE TO MIRANDIZE DEFENDANT

During an FBI investigation of Jake Crooker’s uncle for possession of ricin, a toxic chemical, a small amount of which can kill a person, the FBI obtained a search warrant for Jake’s father’s residence. Jake lived in the home with his parents. As a result of items found during the search he was charged with possession of firearms and ammunition by an unlawful user of a controlled substance, and possession of marijuana. Prior to trial he raised motions to suppress […] Read more »

FOURTH CIRCUIT AFFIRMS ACCA SENTENCE

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed William Thomas Davis’ Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA) sentence for possession of a weapon by a convicted felon despite the failure of the court and the prosecuting attorney to properly inform him of the maximum sentence for the offense. Both in the plea agreement and at the time of the plea Davis was told that the mandatory minimum sentence was ten years. But at sentencing, where he was sentenced to fifteen years he […] Read more »

NINTH CIRCUIT FINDS OFFICERS RELIANCE ON SEARCH WARRANT AFFIDAVIT ENTIRELY UNREASONABLE

James Grant III was convicted of being a felon in possession of a gun. The gun was found in the search of his house. The officers searching his house pursuant to a search warrant were looking for a gun but not the gun that was found. They were searching for a gun used to kill a man. Normally the fact that they found a gun but not the gun they were looking for would make no difference. But here the […] Read more »

FOURTH CIRCUIT PERMITS ADMISSION OF GUN FOUND DURING PROTECTIVE SWEEP

On February 27, 2011 the Ohio County, West Virginia Sheriff’s Department received a number of 911 calls from the family of Shannalee Kuri complaining that her boyfriend, Jordan Laudermilt, had a gun and was threatening to kill them. Several officers arrived on the scene. They met Kuri’s family outside Laudermilt’s residence. Although unaware of the police presence Laudermilt made a number of trips exiting from and entering the residence. On one of the trips, when the police were certain that […] Read more »