COURT UPHOLDS RIGHT TO WAIVER OF DEPORTATION FOR UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANT

Martin Mendoza Leiba (“Mendoza”) entered the country without documents from El Salvador. He got married in 1994. He and his wife have five children. In 1996 his status was adjusted to that of a lawful permanent resident and in 2001 his wife became a citizen. In 2008 he was convicted of receiving stolen property and he was given a suspended sentence. Homeland Security filed removal papers claiming that an alien who, “any time after admission,” was convicted of an aggravated […] 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 »

FOURTH CIRCUIT UPHOLDS US JURISDICTION FOR NON-CITIZEN CONVICTED OF BATTERY ON NATO BASE IN AFGHANISTAN

Sean Theodore Brehm, a South African citizen, working for a U. S. military contractor got into a fight with J. O, a British citizen working for a British corporation at a NATO base in Afghanistan. Neither had ever been in the United States but Brehm was brought to Virginia for trial. Brehm plead guilty under the condition that he could appeal the decision of the trial judge that the United States had jurisdiction to try him. He argued that he […] 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 »

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 »

FOURTH CIRCUIT UPHOLDS DENIAL OF QUALIFIED IMMUNITY

Officer Robert M. Bauer, a Fairfax County Virginia police officer, investigated a complaint that a vehicle later determined to belong to Dr. Rose Merchant had forced another car off the freeway and that Merchant’s vehicle had blue flashing lights. Bauer made plans to meet Merchant and her husband. It was determined that her husband had the car during the time in question but their was no proof the car had blue flashing lights or that such lights had at some […] Read more »

DESPITE JUDICIAL ERRORS COURT UPHOLDS FORFEITURE

Paulette Martin, Derrek Lewis Bynum, and Learley Reed Goodwin were convicted of committing a number of drug related charges. The District Court also forfeited various items including “over $400,000 in currency from accounts held by Appellants, a Mercedes automobile owned by Martin, and several million dollars” that the court found to be the proceeds of the drug trade. By January of 2005 the government was pursuing both civil and criminal forfeiture of the items. Martin challenged the civil forfeiture during […] Read more »

COURT VOIDS PAT SEARCH FOR LACK OF EVIDENCE SUSPECT WAS ARMED AND DANGEROUS

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the conviction of Obie Lee Powell for possession of crack cocaine due to an illegal pat search of Powell. Powell was a back seat passenger in a car driven by Jermaine Mitchell. The car was pulled over by the police due to a burned out headlight. The officers did a license check on Powell, it came up suspended and the officer learned that Powell had a prior conviction for armed robbery. Based on […] Read more »

FOURTH CIRCUIT CALLS OFFICER’S JUSTIFICATION FOR SEARCH ABSURD

Stephen Digiovanni rented a car in Fort Lauderdale, took the autotrain to Washington D. C and drove towards his home in Boston. Driving on I-95 in Maryland, he was stopped by Trooper Chrisotpher Connor for following the car in front of him too closely. Connor noticed that Digiovanni was somewhat nervous. Furthermore, the car was clean, shirts were hanging in the back without a clothing bag and there was a hygiene bag in the back seat. All of these things […] Read more »

FEDERAL COURT FINDS HEARSAY ADMISSIBLE AT SENTENCING DESPITE CONFRONTATION CLAUSE CHALLENGE

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals held that despite the significant changes in Confrontation Clause interpretation over the past several years hearsay remains admissible at sentencing. Solomon S. Powell was convicted of mail fraud. He collected money for sale of merchandise over the internet, but he rarely delivered the merchandise. Though eight victims testified at trial at sentencing the court relied upon the investigation of Postal Inspector Evelyn Cross who testified at the hearing that he harmed over fifty people […] Read more »