Monday, June 12, 2017

Comey Hearings Show the Public that Federal Government Only Serves Itself, Not Them

Now the Public Has a Clearer Picture of How the Federal Government Only Serves Itself

 No new opinions issued by the U.S. Supreme Court this morning, but there should be several in the next two weeks.  However, was anyone even remotely capable of turning away from the over-hyped Congressional testimony this past week of the former "Top Law Enforcement Officer of the United States?" Turns out that he was just another "CI," who leaked information (or made stuff up) in hopes of improving his circumstances (or reducing his sentence). 

Although the media circus was allegedly about the President and his administration, it was the disingenuous nature of the American justice system that was actually publicly "unmasked."  Add this development to the general public's growing unease with the narrative that "we're from the government, and we're here to help you."
Make no mistake, the DOJ and BOP are an integral part of the "Deep State." If you believe in the maxim, "the enemy of my enemy is my friend," the current administration's disruptive attack on the federal  bureaucracy is cause for guarded optimism. It will be interesting to see where this goes.
 The other consequence of this turmoil in Washington is the new-found assertiveness of the federal judiciary, who have been looking for ways to assert their independence of the DOJ and the executive branch. In this new atmosphere, there is hope that the Chevron case, which granted broad judicial deference to federal agency (i.e., BOP) rulemaking powers, will finally be revisited.  This would be huge, as lawsuits on matters such as substandard medical care and compassionate release would not face the current high threshold for success.

In the circuits,  there were some interesting cases the past week.  In U.S. v. Zuniga, the defendant overcame a Beckles defense to his sentence, successfully arguing "that his prior Texas conviction for delivery of a controlled substance cannot serve as a predicate offense for purposes of Section 4.B1.1's enhancement," and reversing and remanding his conviction, following Hinkle, Decamps and Mathis. (14-11302, June 5, 2017).

In a follow-up to the 7th Circuit stash-house sting cases, the 7th rejected a 2255 habeas alleging inadequate representation of counsel where defense counsel failed to raise an entrapment defense. Unlike the case of his co-defendant Mayfield, 771 F.3d at 424, n. 3, Nathan Ward lost his direct appeal, and was left with only the habeas to contest his guilt. Ward v. U.S, 15-2599, June 5, 2017.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Supreme Court Updates

Supreme Court Continues to Extend "Vagueness" Doctrine; Appellate Updates


            The U.S. Supreme Court this morning again extended the breadth of Johnson vagueness doctrine by extending it to three cases where defendants received career-offender status for what amounted to consensual sexual relations with barely-underage minors. The original 2017 SC holding, Esquival-Quintana v. Sessions, which rejected the application of such incidents involving minors 16 and over, was a convincing 8-0 decision. Three cases from the Fifth and Sixth Circuits, were summarily vacated and remanded for resentencing.

            We are also following and considering the application of an interesting case out of Oklahoma, U.S. v Jeffrey Dan Williams, 97cr171,brought to our attention by one of our readers. In this case, compelling new evidence casting doubt upon the veracity of law enforcement and CI testimony against Williams brought about the granting of a second-successive 2255. Williams, who did not dispute his guilt in a drug case he said involved 37 grams but always contested the amplification of his drug quantity that resulted in a 35-year sentence, argued that U.S. v. Blackwell, 127 F.3d 947, and its progeny applied to redress unfairly obtained indictments and guilty, resulting fundamental miscarriages of justice that amounted to fraud upon the court. We are currently reviewing several of our cases to apply the reasoning of this case.

            In his decision vacating the judgment and sentence and dismissing the indictments, Judge James H. Payne noted that "the court finds it has the inherent power and jurisdiction to grant relief." and that the fraud upon the court harmed the "integrity of the judicial process."

            This follows on the heels of the scandal in Kansas City, Kansas federal court, involving the  admitted recording of confidential communications between unconvicted defendants and their attorneys, that has now resulted in the resignation (or dismissal) of two assistant federal prosecutors caught up in the scheme.

            In the circuits, the Ninth Circuit ruled that there is no right to file a 2255 alleging ineffective assistance of counsel in a Section 3582(c)(2) sentence reduction matter, since the Supreme Court ruled in the Dillon case that such proceedings did not constitute a sentence reduction. Sherrod v. U.S., 16-72178, (9th Cir., May 24, 2017).