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In U.S v. Leon, Leon appeals from her conviction following a jury trial of three counts of attempting to cause a financial institution to not file a required currency transaction report (a CTR) in violation of 31 U.S.C. § 5324(a)(1). On appeal Leon claimed that the government and the district court constructively amended the indictment allowing her to be tried and convicted of violation §5324(a)(3) and not §5324(a)(1). The indictment alleges that Leon knowingly willfully and for the purpose of avoiding federal reporting requirements attempted to cause Bank of America not to file required CTRs concerning currency transactions exceeding $10,000 while violating another federal law and as part of a pattern of illegal activity involving more than $100,000 in a 12-month period. She was charged with making five cash withdrawals in the amounts of $9,500, $5,500, $1,430, $1,000 and $400. Another count charge her with making three cash withdrawals in amounts of $6,000, $3,995 and $500. And two cash withdrawals in the amounts of $9,846 and $300. The indictments alleged that these withdrawals, when aggregated on a daily basis, triggered Bank of America’s obligation to file CTRs and that Leon make the withdrawals in amounts less than $10,000 to try to cause Bank of America to not file CTRs.

Leon contended that the government’s theory and evidence as well as the district court’s jury instructions constructively amended the federal criminal indictment by allowing her to be convicted of violating §5324(a)(3) instead of §5324(a)(1). She claimed that the offense of structuring is prohibited by §5423(a)(3) but not by §5423(a)(1). Building on this premise Leon argues that there was a constructive amendment allowing her to be convicted of uncharged §5342(a)(3) offenses because the government repeatedly use the term “structuring” when referring to the three counts.

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In this appeal, Hughes was charged with knowingly possessing a firearm and ammunition as a twice convicted felon. Witnesses at a bar told police he was brandishing a gun and a police officer retrieved a gun from a trash can in the vicinity of the spot Hughes had stood. Fingerprints were found on the gun but were not linked to Hughes until almost two years later when the police ran them through a law enforcement fingerprint identification system matching Hughes’ prints to the gun. Following his arrest the government filed a motion to detain Hughes pending trial. Hughes’ attorney requested a six day continuance which was granted by the judge but did not make any factual findings or give any reasons for granting Hughes’s request for a continuance.

Prior to the trial Hughes moved to dismiss his indictment for a violation of the Speedy Trial Act arguing that the period of delay resulting from the court granting of a continuance was only excludable if the court stated in the record the reasons for finding that the ends of justice served by the granting of such continuance outweigh the best interests of the public and the defendant in a speedy trial.

During trial the trial judge allowed the government to offer in evidence the Computer Assisted Dispatch (CAD) report as a business record. Hughes challenged its admission because the report contained hearsay and violated his right under the Confrontation clause of the Sixth Amendment since he had no opportunity to cross examine the anonymous 911 caller documented in the CAD report. Hughes also raised a Batson challenge to the government’s strike of the only African American member of the venire. Hughes challenged a jury instruction that allowed the jury to find that if it found the defendant gave a false statement to the police in order to divert suspicion from himself, the jury could infer he was guilty.

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In U.S. v Plate the defendant worked at Wells Fargo in Orlando Florida as a financial advisor. One of her long time clients was an elderly couple for whom she managed their securities and bond portfolio. She became close friends with the couple. As their mental capacities diminished with age Plate began to perform personal duties for the couple beyond the traditional financial advisor role. After Plate’s husband died, she eventually induced the husband to execute a Wells Fargo ACH authorization agreement allowing for the transfer of funds from the couples’ Wells Fargo trust account into a separate account. Plate manipulated the husband into writing her personal checks and then she liquidated the securities in the trust account by making a number of unauthorized sales. In total she defrauded the couple of $176,079 and left noting in the account.

She was charged with a single count of embezzlement by a bank officer in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 656 and pled guilty to the offense. The PSI came back with a guideline range of 27-33 months.  Prior to sentencing Plate filed a memorandum asking for a probation sentence and to show remorse she sold her house to pay restitution and expressed determination to pay everything back. She argued probation was appropriate because her crime was an anomaly brought on by depression and reduced mental capacity following the death of her husband. To support her position she attached a forensic evaluation by a licensed psychologist who concluded that she had developed a maladaptive coping style of avoidance characterized by apathy and impaired emotional understanding and reduced mental capacity brought on by the loss of her husband.

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In Wate v Kubler, a Civil Rights lawsuit for the wrongful death of Barnes, it began when Barnes went with his aunt to the Honeywell Island Beach in Pinellas County, Florida for a baptismal ritual in the water along the Beach. While in the water Barns began acting erratically by flailing, flopping, and thrusting his arms and body and yelling loudly about a demon. His actions attracted the attention of a law enforcement officer on the Honeywell Island that day. When Barnes failed to comply with the officers’ order to calm down and leave the water, a struggle ensued and the officer placed a handcuff on one of his hands. More struggling occurred resulting in the officer placing Barnes in a choke hold and dragged him out of the water by his head.

Barnes was just lying on the beach with the officer kneeling beside him as the officer tried to secure both hands with the handcuffs. The officer continued to hit him as he attempted to place the other arm in handcuffs. After the handcuff was secured Barnes spewed blood and fluids from his mouth and struggled to breath. When Barnes continued to struggle the officer pepper sprayed his eyes and hit his face multiple times.

Another officer Kubler, arrived on the scene in response to the first officer’s call for help. At this point eyewitnesses stated that when the first officer had Barnes pinned down, Barnes was starting to wear down and that the situation was under control.   Witnesses testified that Kubler stood over Barnes and put his foot on his buttocks and Kubler put his knee on Barnes’ back and that Barnes was immobilized.   After warning Barnes not to raise up (witnesses say he was arching his back when the officer’s foot pressed against his buttocks) Kubler threatened to taser Barnes and after he struggled Kubler deployed the taser a few minutes later. Kubler used the taser a total of 5 times. Barnes became still and another officer on the scene noticed Barnes was not breathing. Two days later Barnes died. The autopsy showed case of death to be asphyxia contributed by blunt trauma and restraint.

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Fish v. Brown involves a civil rights lawsuit against two Holmes County, Florida, deputy sheriffs for entering the plaintiff’s home without a warrant and for a search and search in violation of the Fourth Amendment. This is an appeal from the district court’s dismissal on the ground that the deputies were entitled to qualified immunity.

The Plaintiff, Fish, had a sexual relationship with Margo Riesco which ended with ill feelings when Fish told Riesco’s husband about their affair. Unconnected to their relationship, a Florida State court entered an injunction in favor of Fish’s sister and brother-in-law protecting them from Fish and his acts of domestic violence. The injunction included a prohibition from having any firearm in his care custody or possession. Riesco learned of the injunction through the sister-in-law.

Riesco wanted to retrieve her personal belongings from Fish and before driving there she stopped at the Sheriff’s office to request an escort to Rieso’s house, claiming she that she feared for her safety during the encounter. She called Riesco to tell him she was in route to his home for the purpose of retrieving personal items left there.

When they arrived Riesco walked through screen porch doors into the sunroom and the deputies followed. Fish came to the door and the deputies stood behind her. She told Riesco why she was there and that she brought the deputies to watch her so she would not steal anything of hers. He allowed Riesco into the house and the deputies followed. While inside the house they spotted his firearms in the bedroom and he was placed under arrest for violating the domestic violence injunction and resisting without violence. After the criminal charges were dismissed he filed a federal civil rights claim for false arrest, illegal search and seizure, and claims under state law for false arrest, imprisonment, and malicious prosecution

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In DH v. Clayton County School District, Defendant McDowell appealed the district court’s finding that as assistant principal his strip search of a minor student was a violation of clearly established constitutional law. McDowell, an assistant Principal at a public school in Georgia, conducted a strip search of a 12-year old 7th grader in an office, based upon reports and his individualized suspicion that DH possessed marijuana at school DH. Prior to the search McDowell discovered marijuana in the backpack of another student who said that DH his classmate also had marijuana. In response to D.V.’s implication of DH, McDowell searched DH, starting with his backpack. When no marijuana was found, he had DH remove his clothes down to his underpants. When nothing was found in his clothes McDowell instructed him to remove his underpants exposing his genitals to McDowell. Another officer was present along with the other student suspects. No marijuana was found.

McDowell raised the defense of qualified Immunity. First the court considers whether McDowell’s search deprived DH of a constitutional right. The second determination was whether the law was clearly established so as to justify imposition of §1983 liability. In determining whether a search of a student violates the Fourth amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure  the court made a two-prong inquiry. First, it asks whether the search is justified at its inception and there are reasonable grounds for suspect in that the search will turn up evidence of a violation of law or school rules, and second, whether the scope of the search is reasonably related to the circumstances which justified the interference in the first place.

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In U.S. v Nagel the defendant appealed his 292 month sentence imposed after pleading guilty to a charge of enticing a minor to engage in sexual activity in violation of 18 U.S.C. section 2422(b) His appeal centered around the procedural and substantive reasonableness of his sentence specifically whether the district court was correct in not grouping count one and count two of the defendant’s conviction in accordance with section 3D1.2 of the federal sentencing guidelines because the conduct underlying each count caused a separate and distinct harm to the victim.

The facts leading to this conviction resulted from the defendant contact with the minor through Facebook leading to the defendant convincing the minor to meet him at the store where he was employed and there they had a sexual encounter on one occasion.   The facts leading to the second count arose from separate sexual activity with the minor as his residence. The presentence investigation report treated counts one and two as separate and distinct groups for the purpose of determining the federal sentencing guidelines. The defendant challenge this decision arguing the counts should be grouped together. The court rejected his argument finding that if was proper for the district court to treat the two counts of enticement of a minor, which involved sexual misconduct that occurred on different days, as not subject to grouping.   Nagel’s emphasis on the consensual nature of the relationship was unpersuasive and not relevant to the non-grouping language of section 3D1.2. According to the plain language of the guidelines and the accompanying commentary, the district court was correct in declining to group Nagel’s two counts of enticement. Even though the conviction involved the same minor, the sexual misconduct occurred on different days and involved separate instances of harm to the victim.

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In U.S. v Phillips the defendant challenged the arrest on a civil writ of bodily attachment for unpaid child support on the grounds of a violation of the Fourth Amendment. As a result to his stop and arrest police officer discovered he was in possession of a firearm at the time he was being arrested on the writ. The issue addressed here was whether a writ of bodily attachment is a Warrant within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution so that the officer found the firearm during a valid search incident to arrest.

A Florida court issued a writ of bodily attachment for unpaid child support that ordered the police to take Phillips into custody and confine him to the county jail but the writ allowed Phillips to purge this contempt and immediately released from custody by the payment of $300.   The police also wanted to question Phillips about a recent shooting in Miami. When an officer who recognized him and knew about the writ of bodily attachment, approached him, the officer patted him and found the loaded .380 caliber firearm. Because Phillips had a prior drug felony, he was indicted on one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm and an armed career criminal.

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U.S. v. Trailer is an appeal from a sentence impose for violation the terms of supervised release that was part of the defendant original sentence for failing to register as a sex offender in violation to 18 USC §2255. A special condition of the original supervised release condition what the defendant was prohibited from having contact with children under the age of 18. A few months after the defendant’s supervised release began, the probation officer filed a petition seeking revocation of his supervised release stating that the defendant was living with his new wife’s four minor children; failing to follow the probation officer’s instruction to have no contact with these children, and failing to answer truthful inquires by his probation officer relating to whether he was having contact with children. The court revoked his supervised release and imposed a sentence of 18 months and a life term of supervised release.

The sole issue on this appeal is whether the life term of supervised release is substantively unreasonable because it is greater than necessary to accomplish the goals of sentencing and is not reasonably related to the 18 USC § 3553 factors.

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In this appeal Birge was convicted of one count of mail fraud pursuant to 18 U.S.C. section 1341 for writing herself $767,218.99 while serving as the Chief Clerk of the probate court of Chatham County, Georgia. The checks were drawn from the conservatorship accounts belonging to 31 minors, two incapacitated adults, and two estates. She was sentenced to 72 months imprisonment and appealed that sentence raising the issue that the district court erred in applying the vulnerable victim enhancement when it calculated her guidelines range.

Under the federal sentencing guidelines a vulnerable victim of an offense is a victim who is unusually vulnerable due to age, physical or mental condition, or who is otherwise particularly susceptible to the criminal conduct.

Birge argued that the district court should not have applied the enhancement to her because there is no evidence that she targeted the vulnerable victims. The court found that amended versions of the language of commentary to section 3A1.1 of the guidelines revised the language to only require that the defendant knew or should have known of the victims’ unusual vulnerability.

The Sentencing Commission amended the commentary to the guideline to include language that the adjustment applies to offenses involving an unusually vulnerable victim in which the defendant knew or should have known of the victim’s unusual vulnerability. The court pointed to precedent holding that commentary in the guidelines Manual interpreting or explaining a guideline is binding on the courts unless it violates the Constitution or a federal statute.

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