Wednesday, January 10, 2007

US v. Gonzalez-Perez, No. 05-10693 (1-10-07). Defendant received a 16-level enhancement in a 1326 sentence for a state (Florida) conviction for "false imprisonment." Hmmm, sounds like a crime of violence, but under the categorical approach of Taylor/Shepherd, the statute, in all its overbroad ramifications, is examined. The Florida statute allows for false imprisonment through "secretion" (as in hiding). The state courts interpreted that as not requiring violence or force in upholding convictions (precedential sauce for the goose is also fit for the gander). As such, the 9th (Rawlison joined by Fernandez and W. Fletcher) held that the statute is overbroad, and the enhancement was erroneous. Remanded for a new sentencing.
Congrats to AFPD Tracy Friddle, D. Ariz, for the win.

US v. Crapser, No. 05-30456 (1-10-07). This is another knock-knock case at a motel that turns into a seizure. The question on appeal was whether the Terry seizure was warranted. The 9th (Graber joined by Goodwin) answer "yes." The police had suspicions that the defendant might be wanted on a warrant, and that drugs might be involved. The officers went to his motel door, knocked, and asked a person through the window if they could speak to the defendant. He came out. Using the totality of circumstances test from Arvizu, the 9th found that the nervousness of defendant, the admission by a guest that she used meth, a pressure cooker found in a trunk previously, and a lapse of time between seeing the officers and coming out, all rose to a level that allowed a Terry stop. The defendant also voluntarily consented to search. Reinhardt, dissenting, laments the further erosion of the fourth amendment, and argues that the police had little cause to question him about drugs, and that the factors did not rise to a Terry stop. The case revolves around use of the "totality of circumstances" standard.

US v. Jones, No. 06-30024 (1-10-07). A wealthy car collector dies, and the estate wants to minimize taxes by selling off this fleet of prized cars at cut-rate prices. Too good to be true? Sure was. Defendant was lured into the scheme, and before he learned of its fraudulent nature, he was soliciting investors. However, defendant kept the money for himself rather than turn it over to the other schemers (ah, what a bunch). When the feds moved in, defendant told his investors that the money had been seized. Defendant entered into a plea for one wire fraud count. After pleading guilty, he tried to back out, alleging that his acts were not fraudulent because he did not make false statements prior to receiving funds. The court finally sentenced him (four lawyers later) and he appealed. The 9th had little patience, holding that the factual basis covered the elements, and that the defendant was involved in a scheme. The 9th also held that the court did not abuse its discretion in not letting him withdraw from the plea.

US v. Jiang, No. 05-10671 (1-10-07). The 9th (D.W. Nelson joined by Berzon and Bright) reversed a conviction for making a materially false statement. The conviction was a result of an agent interviewing defendant, who ran a computer export business and shipped some equipment to China. The agent failed to tape the conversation in which the defendant supposedly made a statement and the agent's notes were, ahem, inconsistent at key places. Moreover, the court at this bench trial failed to make sufficient findings of fact. The conviction is reversed.


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