Sunday, November 22, 2020

11th Circuit in 2-1 decision strikes down conversion therapy ban

 Here's the opinion, which was written by Judge Grant and joined by Judge Lagoa.  Judge Martin dissented. (Judge Rosenberg was the district judge.)

The Sun-Sentinel covers it here:

A federal appeals court struck down Boca Raton’s ban on conversion therapy for gay adolescents struggling to come to terms with their sexuality, calling the ban an infringement on the First Amendment rights of the teens and the counselors who try to treat them.

Licensed family therapists Robert Otto and Judy Hamilton sued the city for the right to talk to their juvenile clients about conversion if the clients had “unwanted” attraction to members of the same gender or “confusion” about their gender identity.

The city’s ordinance prohibited conversion therapy as harmful to the health and emotional development of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and other youth. A district court upheld the law, but Otto and Hamilton appealed, backed by religious-liberty advocates at Liberty Counsel.

A three-judge panel at the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta overturned the earlier decision by a 2-1 vote. “We understand and appreciate that the therapy is highly controversial,” wrote Judge Britt Grant. “But the First Amendment has no carveout for controversial speech. We hold that the challenged ordinances violate the First Amendment because they are content-based regulations of speech that cannot survive strict scrutiny.”

Luckily Rudy Giuliani wasn't arguing the case as he could not answer questions about strict scrutiny last week.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

$20k a day.

 That’s what Rudy G. is apparently asking for from the Trump campaign.  Sounds a lot like what the drug lawyers were asking for in the 80s and 90s...

From The NY Times:

Rudolph W. Giuliani, who has helped oversee a string of failed court challenges to President Trump’s defeat in the election, asked the president’s campaign to pay him $20,000 a day for his legal work, multiple people briefed on the matter said.

The request stirred opposition from some of Mr. Trump’s aides and advisers, who appear to have ruled out paying that much, and it is unclear how much Mr. Giuliani will ultimately be compensated.

Since Mr. Giuliani took over management of the legal effort, Mr. Trump has suffered a series of defeats in court and lawyers handling some of the remaining cases have dropped out.

A $20,000-a-day rate would have made Mr. Giuliani, the former New York City mayor who has been Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer for several years, among the most highly compensated lawyers anywhere.

In local news, the 11th Circuit has been conducting Zoom arguments all week. You can watch them live-streamed from a link on the website.  It’s a great opportunity to see appellate arguments.  I presented oral argument today on Zoom and did one a few months ago (via phone, not Zoom).  Zoom is definitely much better than phone.  And although I really dislike Zoom for some district court proceedings like sentencings or evidentiary hearings, Zoom seems to work well for appellate arguments.  There’s nothing like doing it in the courtroom and I hope we go back to it soon, but appeal by Zoom isn’t so bad. It’s certainly a lot less stressful. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

For the Defense, Episode 4: Marty Weinberg for Bill Moran

Episode 4 of For the Defense is out. In this episode, I interview Marty Weinberg, one of the great criminal defense lawyers of our day, about his representation of Bill Moran, who was accused of being in-house counsel to the Cali Cartel. I think you'll enjoy hearing Marty tell the story of this insane only-in-Miami federal trial where prosecutors weren't satisfied with going after the leaders of the Cali Cartel; they wanted the criminal defense lawyers as well. This episode is especially appropriate for this blog as the trial occurred here in the Southern District of Florida before William Hoeveler. The prosecutors were Ed Ryan and Bill Pearson.  In addition to Weinberg, Moran was represented by the great Albert Krieger.  Co-defendant lawyer Mike Abbell was represented by the Srebnick brothers.

You can catch this episode and all episodes on our podcast website here. Last week's episode with Tom Mesereau made some news with his description of what it took to get Jay Leno to testify in the Michael Jackson trial, as did the episode with Donna Rotunno (Harvey Weinstein's lawyer) about being referred to as the anti-Gloria Allred.

If you're enjoying the podcast, I would *really* appreciate it if you could subscribe and post a review. It seems like Apple Podcast is the most popular platform, which is available here. All other platforms can be accessed on here.

If you are interested in receiving updates about podcast episodes, please sign up here.

Thank you! --DOM

Sunday, November 15, 2020

What's going to happen when we have jury trials again in April 2021?

 Assuming we have trials again in the Spring, how is it going to work?  Are we going to be able to get enough jurors?  Will judges accommodate all of the scheduling nightmares that lawyers are going to have? Will everyone still be required to wear masks during the trial?

Meantime, grand juries are supposed to start up on Tuesday in SDFLA.  There will be two different grand juries and each one will meet once a week (one on Tuesday and one on Thursday).  Apparently, cases for in custody defendants will proceed first.  Then cases with statute of limitations issues.  But with such limited grand jury time, it will be interesting to see how it works.  Will the grand jurors even show up?  How will prosecutors actually schedule the time?  Will there be shortcuts?

In other parts of the country, defendants have been asking for -- and receiving -- discovery regarding the grand jury process.  Who is being excused?  Why? Is it a fair cross-section?  An so on.

Hopefully, the pandemic has changed our idea of bond.  The truth is, almost no one flees.  Ever.  And yet, we hold so many people no bond pre-trial.  During the pandemic, more people were released on bond than ever before... and unsurprisingly to defense lawyers (and prosecutors), no one fled.  Still, we held so many people in pre-trial detention.  In Texas, 80 percent of inmates who died from COVID-19 had not been convicted. These are people who were presumed innocent.  Sickening.  Our district is particularly bad when it comes to bond pending appeal.  Other districts freely grant bond pending appeal, even after trial, in white collar cases.  Why don't we?

And in other news, Justice Alito thought it was a good idea to go and give a political speech at the Federalist Society.  Very on brand for him and we know this is how he feels, but does he really need to go out there and say it?  From the Boston Globe:

“This is a conservative justice’s grievance speech. … It’s the Federalist Society manifesto through the mouth of a Supreme Court judge,” said Nancy Gertner, a retired federal judge and senior lecturer at Harvard Law School.

“I was stunned when I listened to it,” Gertner said of the livestreamed speech, in which Alito criticized the high court’s rulings in both recent and historic cases, including some on matters such as contraception access and coronavirus emergency orders that could come before the court again.

As this WaPo editorial wonders, why is he so angry when his side is winning?

Alito spoke quite a bit about liberty and justice in his address, but he is literally the most right wing Justice in a generation on the 4th Amendment and other criminal justice issues.  He's all in for the Second Amendment and Religious liberty... the other rights, not so much.

Friday, November 13, 2020

OPR finds no misconduct by Alex Acosta

The executive summary of the report is here.  Now I put absolutely *no* credence in anything OPR does because they literally *never* find misconduct, BUT they got this one right.  In this old article at the Hill, I explain why OPR should have spent its time investigating real prosecutorial misconduct. And in this old Herald op-ed, I explain that Acosta was unfairly criticized for the Epstein case.

I wrote that two years ago, and additional facts have come out, but I still don't get it.  With the amount of actual misconduct in the administration, I don't understand why a 10-year old decision regarding a plea agreement -- that everyone knew about when Acosta became Labor Secretary and where he was doing a good job with no scandals -- cost him his job.  Even if you believe that Epstein should have received more time, as Acosta's then first-assistant Jeff Sloman wrote here, that does not mean that Acosta and others acted unethically.  

OPR spent tons of time and resources investigating a really old plea-deal that was struct by lawyers who are no longer prosecutors where the defendant has died.  Had they found any misconduct, what were they going to do?  I'm wondering when they will look at actual prosecutors who have committed real prosecutorial misconduct that actually infringes on a defendant's rights.  Sigh...

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Aileen Cannon set for final vote Thursday (UPDATED -- Cannon confirmed)

According to the Senate Cloakroom Twitter account: On Thursday, November 12th, under the regular order, at 12:00pm the Senate will proceed to a vote on the motion to invoke cloture on Executive Calendar #863 Aileen Mercedes Cannon to be U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of Florida. If cloture is invoked, at 1:45pm on Thursday, November 12th, the Senate will proceed to a vote on confirmation of the Cannon nomination.

 UPDATED -- Cannon, now Judge Cannon, was confirmed 56-21.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020




There wasn't a bigger star than Michael Jackson. And there wasn't a bigger trial than People of the State of California v. Michael Jackson, the four and a half month case in Santa Maria, California.

The King of Pop needed the absolute best trial lawyer he could find as the stakes couldn't have been higher. Stars lined the audience and the witness stand in a trial with wall-to-wall coverage. The question to be answered at trial: Was Neverland Ranch the site of childhood fantasy or unthinkable nightmares?

Everyone had an opinion on how Jackson and his lawyer should defend the case. Tom Mesereau had to put aside the noise and trust what got him there -- his trial lawyer instincts. From picking the jury to cross examining the complaining witnesses to deciding whether to call Michael Jackson himself to the stand, Mesereau made the right decision each and every time despite enormous criticism along the way.

We will discuss those interesting calls with Tom Mesereau on this week's episode of For the Defense.I really appreciate the feedback I've received about the first two episodes (with Donna Rotunno, the lawyer that represented Harvey Weinstein, and Roy Black for his representation of a Miami police officer who shot and killed a young Black man leading to riots). Please keep the comments coming.

Also, it would be really helpful if you could subscribe and give feedback on the podcast platforms as well. It seems like Apple Podcast is the most popular platform, which is available here. All other platforms can be accessed on this website.

Thank you! --David

Hosted by David Oscar Markus and produced by rakontur

Sunday, November 08, 2020

SDFLA closed tomorrow (Monday) for ETA

 From the clerk:

Message posted 11/8/2020 @ 2:45 p.m. 


During inclement weather periods, the safety of the public and Court personnel is always a priority. In the event of hazardous weather conditions, including hurricanes and tropical storms, the policy of the Southern District of Florida is to close federal courthouses when the local public schools within a particular county close.  In light of the announced closures of public schools in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, St. Lucie and Monroe Counties, the federal courthouses in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Fort Pierce and Key West will be closed on Monday, November 9, 2020.  A closure in any division includes the Bankruptcy Court and Probation, if any, in that Division.  The courthouses will reopen when public schools in those counties reopen or until further order of Chief United States District Judge K. Michael Moore. In the event of an emergency, information about the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida can be obtained from the following sources:

- The Court’s website:

- Recorded telephone messages at each courthouse

- Broadcast messages sent to CM/ECF e-filers

- Television announcements

Please note that if the Court’s website is unavailable, the Administrative Office of the US Courts will post emergency messages on behalf of the Court on its website:

Friday, November 06, 2020

News & Notes

I've had enough election coverage.  Here's some other interesting tidbits:

1.  Magistrate Judge Alicia Valle is up for re-appointment.  Jon Sale leads the re-appointment committee here.  Please send him comments.  

2.  People's Court Judge Marylin Milian and her husband, former AUSA and Circuit Judge John Schlesinger had some fun promoting at home court here.


3.  ACB is already asking questions.  Pretty interesting.

4. Some folks have asked me if the prosecutors or judges have responses to the podcast episodes so far on Harvey Weinstein (with Donna Rotunno) and Luis Alvarez (with Roy Black).  But this is a podcast for criminal defense lawyers about their work.  I'm happy to post any rebuttal though.  If the prosecutors or judges would like to comment, please send me your comments and I will post them in full.  

Have a great weekend everyone. 

Thursday, November 05, 2020

Recreational drug use is a winner on election day (UPDATED WITH SAD NEWS)

 Lots of controversy still swirling... but one thing both sides agree on -- recreational drugs should be legalized.  Here's an article on BuzzFeed, titled: "The Real Winner of the Election? Drugs."

In New Jersey, Arizona, Montana, and South Dakota, residents voted to legalize recreational cannabis.

Mississippi and South Dakota voted to legalize the medical use of cannabis in-state. And, for the first time in US history, Oregon decriminalized hard drugs, like cocaine, heroin, oxycodone, and methamphetamine. The state also voted to legalize psychedelic mushrooms.

This is all to say that — despite the anxiety of not yet knowing who's been elected president by Wednesday — the country took historic and progressive steps in destigmatizing drug use and drug-related offenses.


UPDATE -- some very sad news -- Pat Trese has passed away.  He was only 50 and a really nice guy.  I just met him last week during a two-day zoom hearing in federal court.  Rumpole has more at his blog.  Awful news.  2020...

Tuesday, November 03, 2020


Happy Election Day!  One of the big issues in this election is criminal justice and especially racial justice.  George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tamir Rice, and so on.  Back in the early 80s, Miami was going through a similar time of racial tension. 

This episode of the podcast will take us back to that time and examine a case where Roy Black represented a Hispanic police officer, Luis Alvarez, who was charged with the killing of a young Black man, Nevell Johnson.  

This episode is available now on all podcast platforms including AppleSpotify and Google.

I think you'll enjoy hearing from famed criminal defense lawyer Roy Black (who has represented William Kennedy Smith, Rush Limbaugh, Helio Castroneves, and Marv Albert just to name a few).  This was the case that thrust Roy into the national spotlight, and he didn't disappoint.  Check it out!

And a big thanks to those of you who listened to the premiere episode last week with Donna Rotunno, the lawyer that represented Harvey Weinstein (which is still available on AppleSpotify, and Google). 

As the kids say, please like and subscribe to the podcast! It would really help me to get the word out!  THANK YOU!

Monday, November 02, 2020

Of course there's already a problem in Miami with the election

 The Feds are investigating what's going on with piles of ballots sitting at post offices in Miami.  The Herald is covering it here:

Two days after inspectors found dozens of undelivered ballots sitting in a post office in South Miami-Dade County, the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General is preparing to sweep other mail facilities in Miami-Dade for ballots that haven’t reached their destination ahead of the Nov. 3 election.

Scott Pierce, the special agent in charge for the USPS Inspector General’s Southern Area Field Office, confirmed to the Miami Herald on Sunday afternoon that special agents “will be busy over the next couple of days conducting several station visits” at mail distribution centers in Miami-Dade.

Pierce wouldn’t disclose which locations or how many would be searched.

“Our investigation continues and, at this time, we aren’t releasing any additional statements,” he said.

On Friday night, agents discovered 48 ballots in the Princeton post office near Homestead after State Rep. Kionne McGhee tweeted a video that showed a backlog of undelivered mail piling up at the facility. McGhee said the video was shared with him anonymously by a concerned USPS employee.

Ugh, this is crazy to me.  All of us really need this election to be over already.  And with stuff like this going on, I'm concerned that we won't have an answer Tuesday night.  Fingers crossed. 

Friday, October 30, 2020

A day off to vote

What a cool concept from Adam Rabin.  He explains it on his FB page:

A Day Off to Vote is set up to encourage law firms, professional practices, and businesses of all types to support their employees with time off to vote on or before Election Day.
Some firms and businesses are accommodating their employees by giving them the whole day off on Election Day so their employees can volunteer as poll workers or in other ways. Others are giving their employees an extra hour or two to cast their ballots in person or drop off their mail ballots to an approved drop box.
As of this week, we have 58 firms and businesses participating. We also had our first commercial real estate brokerage and management firm, our first statewide law firm, and our first law firms in Miami-Dade and Broward counties join the cause.

The Daily Business Review covers it here.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020


 I am very excited to announce my new podcast, For the Defense, which is being produced by rakontur.  Here's the release.  Please let me know what you think:


Hosted by David Oscar Markus and produced by rakontur

OCTOBER 27, 2020 -- David Oscar Markus, a Miami trial attorney who has been called “a reincarnation of the old school criminal defense lawyer” and has represented clients from the head of the Cali Cartel to Fortune 500 companies and their CEOs, has partnered with rakontur, the lauded storytellers behind Cocaine Cowboys, The U and 537 Votes, to launch a new podcast series called For the Defense. 

The podcast focuses on the work of the least-respected but perhaps the most important profession in America: the criminal defense attorney.  In each episode, Markus will interview a top criminal defense lawyer about one of their most gripping trials.

Sadly, the criminal defense trial lawyer is a dying breed. The Feds have manipulated the system -- which was founded on the idea of trial by jury -- to force almost everyone (occasionally including the innocent) into pleading guilty to avoid trial. If you dare to go to trial, you risk going to prison for decades longer than had you surrendered and pleaded guilty. The system has shifted from valuing and encouraging trials to punishing those who dare exercise their constitutional right to have a jury decide their guilt.  In the 1980s, over 20% of cases went to trial -- now less than 3% do so.

Having tried cases all over the United States, Markus is well-positioned to speak to other leading criminal defense lawyers in the country and explore with them the decision they made in a high-profile case to proceed to trial, including their trial strategy, the risks involved, and the clients themselves.  

In the premiere episode, available now on all podcast platforms including Apple, Spotify and Google, Markus discusses the Harvey Weinstein case with his lawyer Donna Rotunno and what it was like for her to represent the most hated man in America against an entire movement.

New episodes will be available on Tuesdays. Among the highlights of Season One:
  • How did Roy Black flip the prosecution witnesses in his favor during the trial of a police officer charged with killing a black man during an altercation in an arcade?
  • Why did Tom Messereau initially want to call Michael Jackson to the stand but ultimately decide against it? 
  • What was going through Marty Weinberg’s head when his client, a lawyer, decided he wanted to give part of the closing argument? 
  • How did H.T. Smith deal with a judge who was wearing handcuffs as his tie-tack?
  • How did F. Lee Bailey, just a year out of law school, land the most followed trial of the day, Sam Sheppard (the defendant who ended up being the inspiration for The Fugitive)?  

Monday, October 26, 2020

RIP Alvin Entin

 Heard some really sad news this morning... Alvin Entin passed away yesterday.  He was recovering from COVID-19 and had a stroke.  He was such a good guy.  I had the good fortune of having tried a couple of cases with him.  I'll never forget one closing he did -- he started out by saying: I'm so sorry ladies and gentlemen... that closing by the prosecution was such a snoozer!  It nearly put me to sleep. Well, I'm here to wake you up with the truth -- Mr. X is not guilty!

The jury loved it and loved him.

He was also a theater guy, performing in lots of shows and on the board of a theater company in Broward.  Folks on his FB page on talking more about his theater career and his love of theater than the law, which is how we all know him.

Alvin's brother passed away a few weeks ago... what an awful time for their family.  He was married to Lois for almost 50 years.  They have 6 children.  RIP Alvin.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

ACB to be confirmed Monday

 The WaPo has the story here:

Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination broke through one more hurdle ahead of her all-but-assured installation to the Supreme Court as the coronavirus pandemic — which has inextricably been intertwined with the story of her nomination — once again intersected with her confirmation fight.

Senators voted around 1:30 p.m. in a rare Sunday session, 51 to 48, to advance her nomination to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The final confirmation vote for Barrett is expected Monday night, putting her in position for a first full day as a justice as early as Tuesday and as the court continues to hear election-related legal challenges ahead of Nov. 3.

“We made an important contribution to the future of this country,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Sunday, praising Barrett as a “stellar nominee” in every respect. “A lot of what we’ve done over the last four years will be undone sooner or later by the next election. They won’t be able to do much about this for a long time to come.”

That last quote is interesting...

Meantime, ACB was asked about the Supreme Court's "shadow docket." If you are interested, you should read this entire post from SCOTUSblog.  Here's the intro:

Near the end of two meandering days of questions at last week’s Senate hearings for Amy Coney Barrett, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) asked a question that probably has never been asked at any other Supreme Court nomination hearing.

“Are you aware of the Supreme Court’s – as it’s called – shadow docket?” he asked.

Barrett, who clerked for Justice Antonin Scalia, said she was. “The shadow docket has become a hot topic in the last couple of years,” she added.

Barrett is right. In fact, in just the last few months, the court has issued emergency rulings on coronavirus policies, immigration restrictions, capital punishment, access to abortion, the U.S. census and procedures for the upcoming election. All of those rulings have been part of the court’s shadow docket.

The court itself would never use that term. Law professor William Baude coined it in 2015 to refer unofficially to the body of orders issued by the Supreme Court outside the formal opinions in the 70 or so cases in which it hears oral argument each term. Some of those orders are peripheral and procedural. But others resolve, at least temporarily, contentious policy disputes or matters of life and death. And this year, the shadow docket is taking on more significance – and getting more attention – than it ever has before.

Concerns about the shadow docket relate primarily to a special system that allows litigants to seek emergency relief from the Supreme Court in the middle of ongoing litigation. Under normal procedures, a case reaches the justices only after full consideration and final decisions by a trial court and an appeals court – a process that usually takes months, if not years. But the shadow docket gives litigants a potential shortcut: When a lower court issues a ruling (even a preliminary ruling that does not decide the full case), the losing side can ask the Supreme Court to order an emergency “stay” of that ruling. A stay, if the justices issue one, freezes the lower court’s ruling, stripping it of force while the litigation proceeds. By preserving the status quo as it existed before the lower court’s ruling, emergency stays can favor litigants who hope to run out the clock.

Traditionally, litigants must satisfy a high legal standard to earn an emergency stay. Among other things, they must show that they would suffer “irreparable harm” if the lower court’s ruling were left in place. That onerous standard is meant to reserve this form of relief for circumstances in which the court’s immediate intervention is needed to prevent extraordinary consequences. Emergency stays, everyone agrees, should not be a way to short-circuit the normal appeals process. But as the number of these requests has grown in recent years (including a flurry of such requests from the Trump administration), Justice Sonia Sotomayor has argued that the court itself has tacitly lowered the bar for litigants to receive emergency stays on the shadow docket.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

News & Notes

1.    Another debate tonight.  This time with a mute button.  Fun times.

2.     Obama goes after Trump.

3.    ACB takes next step to confirmation.

4.    Wear a mask, even Chris Christie says so.

5.    Jury trials are off till April, but we're making grand juries come in starting in mid-November. Instead of 11 GJs, there will be 2.  And they will meet two days a week.  

 6.    Transitions is holding its annual fundraiser today, virtually.  They are a good group who needs your help.


Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Attorney Aaron Honaker arrested for bank robbery

Another Miami story.

Here's the Herald:

A Coral Gables attorney was called a “serial bank robber” by the FBI, which believes he robbed five banks since Sept. 30 before his Tuesday night arrest.

The agency said Miami resident Aaron Honaker, 41, was headed into a bank when Coral Gables police arrested him. Honaker’s first appearance in Miami federal court is set for Wednesday afternoon.


Honaker’s Florida Bar entry says he’s with the firm of Martinez Morales and has no Bar discipline cases in the last 10 years. Court documents say he previously worked at Greenberg Traurig. He joined the Bar in 2008, two years after graduating from Duke University School of Law.

Court packing

 There's been a lot of debate about packing the Supreme Court.  Most Americans are against it, and according to a recent poll, 51% of Americans want ACB confirmed. That said, here's an interesting essay from Charles Fried about why Biden should do it if SCOTUS goes too far.  It ends this way:

But before going forth on any enlargement plan, a Biden administration would do well to see if the Supreme Court might not heed the lesson of history. Consider the well-known episode indelibly judged as President Franklin Roosevelt’s “failed” court packing plan. Mr. Roosevelt waited to propose his “Judicial Procedures Reform” legislation until 1937, after his first four years in office during which the reactionary Supreme Court majority relentlessly obstructed desperately needed experiments to combat the Great Depression.

President Roosevelt’s move is viewed as a rare failure by a master politician. But was it? Immediately after his proposal was unveiled, the court ruled 5 to 4 that the Wagner Act, restructuring American labor law and relations, was constitutional, and a spate of pro-New Deal decisions followed. The very threat of court packing and the passage of time made this “nuclear option” unnecessary.

Let’s see whether the current Supreme Court majority overplays its hand. If it does, then Mr. Biden’s nuclear option might not only be necessary but it will be seen to be necessary.

In local news, if you are looking for Chief Judge Moore's Order postponing jury trials until April 2021, here ya go.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Who is left on SCOTUS from Bush v. Gore?

Billy Corben's and Alfred Spellman's new documentary 537 Votes has me thinking Bush v. Gore...

Only Justices Thomas and Breyer remain on the Court from that time.  But two current Justices (Roberts and Kavanaugh) and one soon to be Justice (Barrett) all worked for the Bush team.  From CNN on ACB:

Barrett wrote on the questionnaire she submitted to the Senate for her Supreme Court confirmation review, "One significant case on which I provided research and briefing assistance was Bush v. Gore." She said the law firm where she was working at the time represented Bush and that she had gone down to Florida "for about a week at the outset of the litigation" when the dispute was in the Florida courts. She said she had not continued on the case after she returned to Washington.

During her hearings this week, she told senators she could not recall specifics of her involvement.

"I did work on Bush v. Gore," she said on Wednesday. "I did work on behalf of the Republican side. To be totally honest, I can't remember exactly what piece of the case it was. There were a number of challenges."

Friday, October 16, 2020

SDFLA trials suspended until April 2021

 But grand juries are coming back in November instead of January as originally planned. That’s the word out of the judges’ meeting today but no official order yet. 

Thursday, October 15, 2020

District Judge in L.A. dismisses case with prejudice for speedy trial violation

 Oh wow, this Order is worth a read.

I consider the trial by jury as the only anchor, ever yet imagined by man, by which a
government can be held to the principles of its constitution.
–Thomas Jefferson1
The United States Constitution protects our fundamental freedoms and liberties. One of the most important rights guaranteed by the Constitution is the Sixth Amendment right of the accused to a public and speedy trial. It protects against undue and oppressive incarceration prior to trial and it allows the accused the ability to defend himself against the criminal charges before evidence becomes lost or destroyed and witnesses’ memories fade. But the Sixth Amendment protects much more than just the rights of the accused. It also protects the rights of all of us. It gives each of us called for jury service a voice in our justice system. And it holds the government  accountable to the principles of the Constitution. Thomas Jefferson and the other Framers of the Constitution wisely recognized that without jury trials, power is abused and liberty gives way to tyranny. Given the constitutional importance of a jury trial to our democracy, a court cannot deny an accused his right to a jury trial unless conducting one would be impossible. This is true whether the United States is suffering through a national disaster, a terrorist attack, civil unrest, or the coronavirus pandemic that the country and the world are currently facing. Nowhere in the Constitution is there an exception for times of emergency or crisis. There are no ifs or buts about it. Sadly, the United States District Court for the Central District of California has denied Defendant Jeffery Olsen his Sixth Amendment right to a public and speedy trial on the criminal charges that were filed against him in this case. Specifically, the Chief Judge for the Central District refused to summon the jurors necessary to conduct Mr. Olsen’s trial that was scheduled for October 13th of this year, believing it was too unsafe to conduct the trial during the coronavirus pandemic even if significant safety precautions were in place. Most troubling, the Chief Judge refused to summon jurors for Mr. Olsen’s trial even though grand juries have been convening for months in the same federal courthouse in Orange County where his trial would take place and state courts just across the street from that federal courthouse are conducting criminal jury trials. Clearly, conducting a jury trial during this coronavirus pandemic is possible. Yet the Central District prevented the Court from even trying to do so for Mr. Olsen. Because the Central District denied Mr. Olsen a public and speedy trial under the Sixth Amendment, this Court now must dismiss the indictment against him.
 The L.A. Times covers it here:

A federal judge in Santa Ana on Wednesday dismissed an indictment against a Newport Beach physician accused in a drug distribution case, ruling that his constitutional rights to a jury trial were denied due to an order barring trials in the federal courthouse in the Central District of California during the COVID-19 pandemic. U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney dismissed the indictment against Jeffrey Dove Olsen with prejudice, so prosecutors could not just file another case against him or seek another indictment from a grand jury. Prosecutors could appeal the ruling with the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Olsen was indicted in July 2017 on 35 counts that alleged he prescribed and distributed “large amounts of oxycodone, amphetamine salts, alprazolam and hydrocodone to confidential sources, an undercover agent and numerous addicts without a legitimate medical purpose over the course of three years,” according to federal prosecutors who said two of the doctor’s patients died from overdoses of pain medication.

The issue came to a head this week when Olsen refused to waive any more time for his trial, but U.S. District Judge Philip S. Gutierrez, the chief judge of the Central District, refused to budge on the prohibition of jury trials at this time.

“Quite frankly, the court is at a loss to understand how the Central District continues to refuse to resume jury trials in the Orange County federal courthouse,” Carney wrote in his ruling as he noted various other federal agencies have offices that are open and that first responders still report to work, as well as employees in essential businesses.

“Orange County restaurants are open for outdoor dining and reduced-capacity indoor dining,” Carney added. “Nail salons, hair salons, body waxing studios, massage therapy studios, tattoo parlors and pet groomers in Orange County are open, even indoors, with protective modifications.”


Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Judge like a champion today

Apparently, Judge Amy Coney Barrett was given a sign for her chambers from judge Don Willett that says, Judge Like A Champion Today (which is a play on the sign that Notre Dame players hit on the way onto the football field).  There's another judge that has that same sign -- Judge Like A Champion Today -- in his chambers and has had it since his law clerks got it for him in 1998: Judge Moreno.


Friday, October 09, 2020

SDFLA Grand Juries to return sooner than planned

 Chief Judge Moore previously ordered the suspension of grand juries until January 4.  But there has been an effort to get a grand jury up and running before then, and now multiple sources have confirmed that the goal is to have one by mid-November.  We have schools, restaurants, and even open stadiums, so it's no wonder that we will have grand juries soon enough.  Let's see if they actually show up!

Tuesday, October 06, 2020

Rakontur's new doc coming out soon.

 And it's going to be a doozy.  It's called 537 Votes and is about the 2000 presidential recount in Florida or what Billy Corben and Alfred Spellman call a heist.  It's premiering on HBO Max on October 21.

Here's the trailer:


Here's a more detailed description from rakontur's website:

In early 2000, the international custody battle over a six-year-old Cuban boy, Elian Gonzalez, triggered a political earthquake in the swing state of Florida, ultimately swaying the outcome of the presidential election. With Miami’s largely conservative Cuban American population outraged at the Clinton administration’s handling of the repatriation of Gonzalez, many called for “el voto castigo:” the punishment vote, to harm Vice President Al Gore’s chances at the ballot box. Miami-Dade County mayor, Democrat Alex Penelas, dubbed People magazine’s “Sexiest Politician,” is surprisingly absent from Gore’s side as election fever mounts. After election day, with the margin of victory hinged on Florida, weeks of chaotic ballot recounts, lawsuits, counter lawsuits and public protests ultimately ended with George W. Bush winning the presidency by a mere 537 votes. 

With humor, verve and new insights, 537 VOTES exposes the key players who contributed to the chaos in the contested Florida county, featuring interviews and archival footage of insiders and political operatives at the time, including Roger Stone; Joe Geller, Chairman of the Miami-Dade County Democratic Party; Al Cardenas, Chairman of the Florida Republican Party; Cuban American anchorman Rick Sanchez; political consultant Armando Gutierrez; Bush campaign operative Brad Blakeman; Democratic Mayor Alex Penelas; author of Cuba Confidential, Ann Louise Bardach; Democratic political operative Jeff Garcia; Miami political reporter Michael Putney; Gore attorney Mitchell Berger; and Democratic pollster Fernand Amandi.

On election day, November 7, 2000, in one of the narrowest election margins in history, it all came down to Florida, where the state’s 25 electoral votes would decide the next president of the United States. The press called Florida for Gore and then retracted it, and Fox News called it for Bush. Gore called Bush to concede, and then all networks deemed Florida “too close to call.” Gore then retracted his concession and the recount began.

Both parties braced for a bitter and lengthy legal battle. Bush’s campaign mobilized its troops, rallying local Cuban Americans and national GOP figures such as former Secretary of State, James Baker. In turn, Gore’s side hired former Secretary of State Warren Christopher and called for a manual recount in four Florida counties, including Miami-Dade. Under heavy scrutiny were 10,750 “no vote” ballots, where “dimpled,” “pregnant” or “hanging” chads were not counted by the tabulating machines. After 36 days of legal maneuvering and appeals on both sides, the U.S. Supreme Court, with a conservative majority, ruled to stop the manual recounts, thereby granting the presidency to George W. Bush on December 12, 2000.

The best documentarians have another classic on their hands.  And another only-in-Miami story.

Sunday, October 04, 2020

First Monday in October

 It's been an insane 2020.  The Supreme Court is no different, and we open the Term with 8 Justices.  A ninth may be on the way. And it looks like there will be election litigation that will make Bush v. Gore look like playtime in comparison. Fun times. The WaPo covers the beginning of the Term:

The Supreme Court opens its new term Monday at the forefront of the national political conversation, but with its future uncertain and the unwelcome prospect of deciding a divisive presidential election on the horizon.
With Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat on the bench still draped in black crepe, the eight remaining justices will gather via teleconference to tackle a docket that, for now, is not nearly as controversial as the last.
That term saw the court strike a restrictive state abortion law, decide LGBTQ workers are protected by federal anti-discrimination laws, grant temporary relief to undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children and reject President Trump’s insistence he was above investigation from Congress and local prosecutors while in office.
“The court in this term may be looking for ways to avoid partisan controversy, to delay deciding cases that are of deep ideological division as much as it can,” David Cole, the national legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union, said last week in a briefing for reporters.
There is a foreboding, but “the biggest possible partisan controversy that it might face is a dispute about the election,” Cole continued. “I’m sure that all of the justices are saying the election officials’ Election Day prayer, which is: ‘Dear Lord, let this election not be close.’ ”
The court already is inundated with emergency lawsuits regarding the voting process, such as what accommodations must be made for voters during the coronavirus pandemic and whether the time frames for receiving mail-in ballots should be extended.
But President Trump has made it clear he believes there will likely be litigation over the results.
“I think I’m counting on them to look at the ballots, definitely,” Trump said during Tuesday’s debate with former vice president Joe Biden. “I don’t think — I hope we don’t need them, in terms of the election itself, but for the ballots, I think so.”

Friday, October 02, 2020

CA11 affirms Judge Moreno's decision to terminate protections for homeless in Miami

 Decision by Judge William Pryor here.  It starts like this:

This appeal requires us to decide whether the district court abused its discretion when it terminated a consent decree that regulated how the City of Miami treats its homeless residents. Twenty years after the consent decree’s adoption, the City moved to terminate it based on changed circumstances, fulfillment of its purpose, and substantial compliance with its requirements. The homeless argued the City was still systematically violating the consent decree and moved the district court to hold the City in contempt and sanctioned for committing the violations. The district court ruled the City had not violated the consent decree, granted its motion for termination, and denied the opposing motion for contempt. Because the district court correctly interpreted the decree and did not abuse its discretion by terminating the decree, we affirm.

Some coverage:

An 11th Circuit panel on Thursday upheld the termination of long-standing judicial protections for Miami’s homeless population, finding that the city had overhauled its homeless policing to the point where court oversight is no longer warranted.

The homeless protections were in place for two decades as part of the landmark settlement in Pottinger v. City of Miami, a class action that accused the city of unconstitutional mistreatment of its homeless population in the 1980s.

After the city secured a termination of the settlement in Miami district court in 2019, David Peery — on behalf of homeless Miamians — turned to a three-judge appeals panel in the 11th Circuit. Among other protections, Peery fought to reinstate a requirement that police officers offer homeless people a bed in a shelter as an alternative to arrest for certain misdemeanors, such as sleeping on a park bench.

The three-judge panel on Thursday rejected Peery’s appeal.

According to the panel’s opinion, the city showed “substantial compliance” with the Pottinger settlement by retraining its police on how to deal with the homeless people.

“All police officers receive training on Pottinger’s requirements, and the City has put in place body-camera-usage, records-keeping, and disciplinary procedures to monitor and regulate interactions between the police and the homeless, ” Chief U.S. Circuit Judge William Pryor, a George W. Bush appointee, wrote in a 26-page ruling

During the appeal proceedings, Peery and his counsel had pointed to a 2018 mass removal of homeless people from the downtown Miami area as key evidence that the city was violating the settlement and couldn’t be trusted to regulate itself regarding its handling of the homeless population.


Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Abuse of discretion to deny continuance motion leads to reversal

In U.S. v. Schwarz, the 11th Circuit reversed a large white collar SDFLA case, where the defendant was not given sufficient time to prepare for trial.  The defendant was sentenced to 480 months in prison even though he was acquitted of half the counts and even though he only had a few months to prepare for trial.  The appellate court called out the trial court's "history of denying continuances in criminal cases":

There are seven cases from 2006 through 2017 in which the issue in this particular trial court was raised and argued on appeal, and, in all but one, there are substantive rulings by this Court. See Jeri, 869 F.3d at 1257–59; United States v. Ubieta, 630 F. App’x 964, 970–72 (11th Cir. 2015); United States v. Bates, 590 F. App’x 882, 890–91 (11th Cir. 2014); United States v. Anderson, 329 F. App’x 878, 882–84 (11th Cir. 2009); United States v. King, 306 F. App’x 501, 513–18 (11th Cir. 2009); Valladares, 544 F.3d at 1264–65; United States v. Perez, 473 F.3d 1147, 1150–51 (11th Cir. 2006). We by no means challenge the conclusions of prior panels. The rules of the Circuit are clear, and the bar is high for reversal when continuances are denied. None of the listed cases resulted in reversal, but three contained warnings to the trial court, and the most recent, United States v. Jeri, found error by the trial court, but insufficient evidence of prejudice to defendant under our precedent.

United States v. King was a 2009 complicated tax fraud case involving four years of personal and corporate tax returns of two corporations owned by defendant which had been investigated by the Internal Revenue Service for over three years and involved 80,000 documents in discovery. 306 F. App’x at 506. Trial was set to begin forty days after arraignment and fifty-three days after indictment. Discovery was turned over by the government during the 40 days. Id. at 504. This Court noted: “The difficulty in trial preparation was exacerbated by the fact that, little more than a month before trial, the government left 39 boxes containing 80,000 discovery documents at Xpedia, a copy center.” Id. at 515–16. The trial court denied several motions by defendant for a continuance, including an unopposed motion for at least a seven-month continuance. Id. at 506. The trial court eventually granted an eight-day continuance, after which the government added twenty-five exhibits and substituted ten more, one day before the new trial date. Id. at 515–16. On the day of trial, defendant renewed orally his motion for a continuance, to no avail. Id. at 515.
Implying error, this Court made the following observations for the benefit of the trial court:

[T]his is a complicated tax fraud case involving voluminous records. King’s requests for more time to prepare was reasonable. While we understand the need to move cases expeditiously, this case was not a simple one. A 30– or 60–day continuance . . . would not have unduly delayed the court’s docket under these facts.

Id. at 516. Nevertheless, “[t]he problem for King . . . is that he has not shown that the district court’s denials resulted in ‘specific, substantial prejudice’ to his defense.” Id. There was also overwhelming evidence of guilt. Id. at 518.
We issued another warning in our 2014 opinion in United States v. Bates, which dealt with a child pornography prosecution. See generally Bates, 590 F. App’x at 882. The denial of repeated requests for continuance was argued on appeal but not decided by the panel. Id. at 890. Nevertheless, this Court instructed on remand that “the District Court must assure itself that Mr. Bates has adequate resources to permit his expert to review the evidence, and enough time to pursue the evidence necessary to aid in his defense.” Id. Noting a short period for the expert to complete a computer forensics examination, and a superseding indictment just two weeks before trial, this Court warned: “If Mr. Bates is retried on remand, we hope and expect that the District Court will be mindful of his need for . . . adequate time to prepare for trial.” Id. at 891.
As stated above, in United States v. Jeri, our Court found error on the part of this trial court in denying a motion for continuance when a television video of the fruits of a search in a drug case was located by the government on the day before trial, and turned over to defendant on the morning of trial.
The facts of this case suggest to us that the trial court would have been wiser to grant a continuance or at least a short recess. After all, the video was not made available to Jeri until the morning of trial and he did not get to watch the video until after the first day of the day-and-a-half-long trial, by which time five Government witnesses had already testified.

Jeri, 869 F.3d at 1258. Again, however, despite “this error,” defendant could not show specific, substantial prejudice, and there was no reversal. But our panel did not leave it there:

[I]t is worth reiterating “that a scheduled trial date should never become such an overarching end that it results in the erosion of the defendant’s right to a fair trial.” Id. at 1291 [citing United States v. Uptain, 531 F.2d 1281 (5th Cir. 1976)]. The costs attendant to a continuance were low, but the potential risk to the defendant was real. While we are acutely aware of the district courts’ heavy caseloads and fully appreciate the important public interest in their expeditious resolution, it is often wise to counsel patience in finding the “delicate balance between the defendant’s right to adequate representation by counsel of his choice and the general interest in the prompt and efficient administration of justice.”

Id. at 1258–59 (full citation added).

We are troubled, after three warnings by prior panels and in view of the particular facts of this case, that this trial court has not heeded prior panel warnings, resulting in an abuse of discretion in this case. The risk of error is exacerbated by the setting of short trial dates. We have considered, but rejected this time, the sanction of reassignment of this case to another court. To avoid future sanctions, the trial court must be carefully mindful of the occasional needed continuance for a defendant and, in some cases, both sides, especially in a case as complicated as this one.
Because we conclude that the district court abused its discretion in denying Schwarz’s several motions for continuance and caused him to suffer substantial prejudice in presenting his defense, we VACATE appellant SCHWARZ’s convictions and REMAND for a new trial.


Tuesday, September 29, 2020

It's debate night

How about a debate night drinking game.  Take a drink every time the following term is mentioned.  

For Joe Biden:

  • $750
  • Starts a sentence with "look"
  • Obama
  • "Trump is going to take away health care" 
  • "You're fired."
  • anything in Spanish
  • "Come on man" or "Here's the deal"
  • RBG


  • Drug test
  • Sleep Joe
  • "mail in ballots" or "voter fraud"
  • Closing the borders to China
  • Joe will "defund the police"
  • "Law and Order"
  • "Fill the Seat"
  • China
  • Rigged

Sunday, September 27, 2020

It's Amy Coney Barrett

 Many of us here in South Florida were rooting for Barbara Lagoa.  Even though she didn't ultimately get the nomination, what an honor and an experience to have made the 2 person short-list. 

In the meantime, the left will have to decide how they want to play the Barrett nomination especially since it's pretty clear that she will be quickly confirmed.  

Some liberal commentators are already coming to Barrett's defense.  Here's Noah Feldman, who wrote a piece titled: "Amy Coney Barrett Deserves to be on the Supreme Court."
Like many other liberals, I’m devastated by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, which opened the way for President Donald Trump to nominate a third Supreme Court justice in his first term. And I’m revolted by the hypocrisy of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s willingness to confirm Trump’s nominee after refusing to even allow a vote on Judge Merrick Garland.

Yet these political judgments need to be distinguished from a separate question: what to think about Judge Amy Coney Barrett, whom Trump has told associates he plans to nominate. And here I want to be extremely clear. Regardless of what you or I may think of the circumstances of this nomination, Barrett is highly qualified to serve on the Supreme Court.

I disagree with much of her judicial philosophy and expect to disagree with many, maybe even most of her future votes and opinions. Yet despite this disagreement, I know her to be a brilliant and conscientious lawyer who will analyze and decide cases in good faith, applying the jurisprudential principles to which she is committed. Those are the basic criteria for being a good justice. Barrett meets and exceeds them.

I got to know Barrett more than 20 years ago when we clerked at the Supreme Court during the 1998-99 term. Of the thirty-some clerks that year, all of whom had graduated at the top of their law school classes and done prestigious appellate clerkships before coming to work at the court, Barrett stood out. Measured subjectively and unscientifically by pure legal acumen, she was one of the two strongest lawyers. The other was Jenny Martinez, now dean of the Stanford Law School.

When assigned to work on an extremely complex, difficult case, especially one involving a hard-to-comprehend statutory scheme, I would first go to Barrett to explain it to me. Then I would go to Martinez to tell me what I should think about it.

Barrett, a textualist who was working for a textualist, Justice Antonin Scalia, had the ability to bring logic and order to disorder and complexity. You can’t be a good textualist without that, since textualism insists that the law can be understood without reference to legislative history or the aims and context of the statute.

Martinez had the special skill of connecting the tangle of complex strands to a sensible statutory purpose. She clerked for Justice Stephen Breyer, who also believes in pragmatically engaging the question of what a statute is actually trying to do in order to interpret it.

In a world where merit counts, Barrett and Martinez would both be recognized as worthy of serving on the Supreme Court. If a Democratic president with the support of a Democratic Senate asked me to recommend a current law professor for the bench, Martinez would be on my short list.

There is no question that Barrett will move the Court far to the right, which is pretty depressing.  But at least she is extremely smart, qualified, and a nice person as described by all who know her.  Barrett gave a really nice acceptance speech and said all of the right things:

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Corrine Brown's case goes en banc before the 11th Circuit

 I previously blogged about the fascinating panel decision here.

In the Brown case, the district court excused a juror who said that he was deliberating based on what "[t]he Holy Spirit told [him]," which was that Brown was not guilty on all counts.  Judge Rosenbaum said it was appropriate to excuse the juror because the juror was not praying for guidance but was basing his decision on what was "told" to him by the Holy Spirit.  Visiting Judge Conway joined Judge Rosenbaum.

Judge William Pryor wrote a lengthy dissent, arguing that jurors should be able to rely on their religious beliefs.

Now the case goes en banc.  Here's what I said about the panel opinion at the time:

For what it's worth, I think both opinions get it wrong. I think an acquittal can be based on anything, including one's conscience. Convictions, on the other hand, cannot be based on anything except the evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. So if God tells a juror to acquit, fine. It would be disqualifying, however, for a juror to convict based on some intuition and not the evidence. Jury nullification is permissible to acquit, but not to convict.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

What about Amy Coney Barrett?

 The blog obviously has a local interest in the consideration of Barbara Lagoa as a SCOTUS short-lister.  But the other woman on the short list is Amy Coney Barrett, a judge on the 7th Circuit.  Here's what she said about replacing her former boss, Justice Scalia during an election year:



And here's a Reason article about her criminal justice record:

Appeals court judge Amy Coney Barrett, a leading contender to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court, is a popular choice among conservatives. That fact does not, by itself, tell us much about Barrett's treatment of criminal defendants' constitutional and statutory claims.

When it comes to the rights of criminal defendants and the actions of law enforcement agencies, the "conservative" label covers a wide range of attitudes. Although progressives tended to depict Justice Antonin Scalia as an authoritarian ogre, for instance, he sided with defendants in several important Fourth Amendment and Sixth Amendment cases. Neil Gorsuch, the judge President Donald Trump picked to replace Scalia, has shown an even stronger inclination to uphold the rights of the accused and to question the conduct of police officers and prosecutors, repeatedly breaking with fellow conservatives such as Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas. By contrast, 5th Circuit Judge James Ho, another candidate on Trump's list of potential Supreme Court nominees, showed a troubling deference to law enforcement in a 2019 case involving a man killed by Texas sheriff's deputies.

The opinions Barrett has written in cases brought by criminal defendants and prisoners since joining the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit in 2017 present a mixed picture. While she is often skeptical of the government's arguments when it tries to put or keep people in prison, she has sometimes rejected claims by defendants and prisoners that her colleagues found credible.

It is clear from Barrett's record that she does not reflexively side with the government in criminal cases. In a 2019 opinion, for example, she concluded that Drug Enforcement Administration agents violated the Fourth Amendment when they searched a suspect's apartment based on the consent of a woman who answered the door but did not live there.

"Is it reasonable for officers to assume that a woman who answers the door in a bathrobe has authority to consent to a search of a male suspect's residence?" Barrett asked. "We hold that the answer is no. The officers could reasonably assume that the woman had spent the night at the apartment, but that's about as far as a bathrobe could take them. Without more, it was unreasonable for them to conclude that she and the suspect shared access to or control over the property."

In another Fourth Amendment case, decided in 2018, Barrett concluded that an anonymous tip did not provide reasonable suspicion for police to stop a car in which they found a man with a felony record who illegally possessed a gun. "The anonymous tip did not justify an immediate stop because the caller's report was not sufficiently reliable," she wrote for a unanimous three-judge panel. "The caller used a borrowed phone, which would make it difficult to find him, and his sighting of guns did not describe a likely emergency or crime—he reported gun possession, which is lawful."

In a 2018 case, by contrast, Barrett joined the two other judges on a 7th Circuit panel in rejecting the Fourth Amendment claims of three men who had been convicted of viewing and possessing child pornography after they were identified as users of the dark website Playpen. The FBI, which ran Playpen for about two weeks in 2015 as part of its investigation, identified people who visited the site via tracing software it installed under a warrant issued by a federal magistrate judge in Virginia. The defendants argued that the warrant was invalid because it purportedly covered searches outside the magistrate judge's district.

Writing for the unanimous panel, Barrett said "we need not decide…whether the searches violated the Fourth Amendment." Even if they did, she said, "the district courts did not err by declining to suppress the evidence, because the good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule applies." Even assuming the warrant was invalid, she thought, the FBI could not reasonably have been expected to realize that.