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Tag Archives: Criminal Practice

Criminal Practice – Jury & Jurors – ‘Anonymous’ Jury – Murder Trial – First Impression – Constitutional – Hearsay Evidence – Murdered Witness — Conspiracy (access required)

U.S. v. Dinkins Using an ‘anonymous’ jury whose biographical information has been withheld from defense lawyers and defendants accused of drug-trafficking and the murder of government witnesses is not a reason to overturn their convictions; the 4th Circuit follows decisions by its sister circuits and provides guidelines for use of anonymous juries.

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Criminal Practice – Impersonating an Officer – Constitutional – First Amendment – Freedom of Speech (access required)

U.S. v. Chappell The 4th Circuit says a former deputy sheriff who told an officer he was a deputy in an attempt to avoid a speeding ticket cannot overturn his conviction for impersonating an officer by claiming the Virginia statute at issue, Va. Code § 18.2-174, violated his First Amendment right to free speech.

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Criminal Practice – Firearm Possession – Personal Right of Self-Defense — ‘Home Possession’ – Insufficient Showing of Residence (access required)

U.S. v. Smoot A defendant cannot claim a personal right of self-defense under D.C. v. Heller to a weapons charge, as he did not prove that he lived at the address where he was arrested in the backyard; the 4th Circuit also rejects defendant’s challenge to the jury instruction on the interstate commerce element of the gun charge.

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Criminal Practice – Stabbing in Afghanistan – South African Defendant – British Victim – Private Contractors – Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act (access required)

U.S. v. Brehm A South African employee of a private contractor can be convicted under U.S. law for stabbing a British citizen while both were working for separate private contractors supporting the NATO war effort in Afghanistan; the 4th Circuit affirms the conviction pursuant to an indictment that relied on the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act.

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Criminal Practice – Search & Seizure – Traffic Stop – Estimated Speed (access required)

U.S. v. Mubdi The 4th Circuit upholds a traffic stop based on two officers’ separate visual estimates of defendant’s speed, as the officers’ radar certification training required them to visually estimate vehicle speed within a narrow margin of error; the subsequent open-air search by a drug-sniffing dog did not violate defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights, and his convictions for cocaine and firearms possession are affirmed.

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Criminal Practice – Sentencing – Illegal Reentry into U.S. – Prior Child Abuse Conviction – No Enhancement (access required)

U.S. v. Gomez A district court erred in enhancing a defendant’s sentence for illegal reentry into the U.S. by determining her prior child abuse conviction to be an aggravated felony; the 4th Circuit joins the majority of its sister circuits and says the “modified categorical approach” for evaluating a defendant’s prior conviction as a crime of violence should be applied only to statutory offenses in which the statute itself is divisible.

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Criminal Practice – Felony DUI – Video Requirement – Hospitalized Defendant – Blood Test – Probable Cause (access required)

State v. Manning Since defendant had already been taken to the hospital before the investigating officer arrived at the incident scene, it was physically impossible for the officer to produce a video recording of defendant at the incident scene. Despite the state’s failure to produce an affidavit to this effect, a video recording was not required because the officer was investigating a traffic accident and defendant was arrested at the hospital.

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