Monday, June 27, 2011

Big defense wins in the 11th Circuit

Friday afternoon was a rare time in the 11th Circuit -- two published opinions in favor of criminal defendants.

First up is a win by rising star AFPD Sowmya Bharathi in U.S. v. Rojas, No. 10-14662 (11th Cir. June 24, 2011):

The issue in this appeal is whether the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 (“FSA”), Pub. L. No. 111-220, 124 Stat. 2372 (2010), applies to defendants who committed crack cocaine offenses before August 3, 2010, the date of its enactment, but who are sentenced thereafter. We conclude that it does.
We conclude that the FSA applies to defendants like Vera Rojas who had
not yet been sentenced by the date of the FSA’s enactment. The interest in
honoring clear Congressional intent, as well as principles of fairness, uniformity,
and administrability, necessitate our conclusion. Accordingly, we reverse and
remand to the district court for re-sentencing.

Next up is a win by Richard Klugh in U.S. v. Ladson, No. 10-10151 (11th Cir. June 24, 2011):

Ladson argues that the Government did not file and serve an information
containing notice of an enhanced sentence in accordance with § 851(a)(1). We agree
that he was not served before trial with a copy of the information in accordance with
§ 851(a)(1), and thus the district court lacked authority to impose an enhanced
sentence on Counts I and II under 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(A), (C), and 846.
We therefore vacate Ladson’s mandatory term of life imprisonment on Count I and
ten-year sentence on Count II, and remand with instructions to resentence Ladson on
Counts I and II without the § 851 sentence enhancement under the second
information. We affirm the judgment of conviction on Counts I, II, and IV.

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