Monday, May 22, 2017

You be the judge -- Anthony Weiner

You be the judge -- former Congressman and Huma's husband Anthony Weiner pleaded guilty to a count of transferring obscene material to a minor. It carries a maximum sentence of 10 years. His guidelines are 135 months at the low end. The government has agreed to recommend a sentence of 21-27 months in this plea agreement. What will the judge do? What would you do?

Friday, May 19, 2017

Who could read all of this?

The 11th Circuit issued 284 pages of en banc opinions in the smoking cases, including Tjoflat's 225+ page (!!) dissent. I couldn't bear to read it all, but the Daily Report has this initial summary:

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit issued a 284-page en banc opinion Thursday saying that smokers who won a class action against tobacco companies can also file individual lawsuits.

The judges had some fireworks. Three wrote dissents. One called the process a “chaotic poker game” and said judges should “stick to our day jobs” instead of advocating for plaintiffs.

In the end, the judges upheld the lower court decision in favor of Theresa Graham against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and its affiliates. Judge William Pryor wrote the majority opinion.

“This appeal presents the questions whether due process forbids giving a jury’s findings of negligence and strict liability in a class action against cigarette manufacturers preclusive effect in a later individual suit by a class member and, if not, whether federal law pre-empts the jury’s findings,” Pryor began.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

You have a right to remain silent.

After not speaking for a year, Gerald Petion pleaded guilty to a federal drug case. Paula McMahon has the details:

On Tuesday, after 12 months of politely but pointedly remaining totally silent and unresponsive in court, Petion resumed speaking to judges: He apparently decided it was in his best interest to accept a plea agreement offer from the prosecution.

“Guilty,” Petion said when U.S. District Judge Robin Rosenberg asked him how he wanted to plead to two federal drug-trafficking and weapons charges.

Prosecutors said they will recommend 20 years in federal prison when he is sentenced in August, but the final decision on his punishment lies with the judge. The maximum possible penalty is life in prison.

***
He remained imprisoned the whole time and only succeeded in delaying progress in his case for 12 months.

Earlier this month, Petion finally resumed speaking to his attorney after two in-depth mental health evaluations showed that there was nothing physically or mentally wrong with Petion and that he was legally competent for the case to proceed. The experts said he was faking mental illness.

After he was determined to be mentally competent, prosecutors made a plea offer and said they were considering filing a more serious charge, with a harsher punishment, if he planned to go to trial.

Meantime, we still have no U.S. Attorney. As far as I know, all of the finalists are still being considered. I imagine that we will have our nominee by the end of the month. It will be interesting to see if the nominee will accept the position and work for a Trump/Sessions administration.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Dismissed juror in Corrine Brown case was holding out for acquittal

When is it appropriate to dismiss a "holdout" juror? Representative Corrine Brown, who was convicted late last week, will argue that the judge should not have dismissed a juror holding out for innocence:

A juror dismissed from former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown’s fraud trial told other jurors “the Holy Spirit” said Brown was innocent as the jury deliberated, according to a transcript the trial judge unsealed after a hearing Monday.
U.S. District Judge Timothy Corrigan’s decision to remove that juror will evidently become part of Brown’s effort to challenge her conviction last week on 18 out of 22 fraud and tax charges that could lead to years of imprisonment.
Although he hadn’t requested one Monday, Brown’s attorney, James W. Smith III, told reporters last week he planned to seek a new trial.
Corrigan acknowledged disagreement over the juror’s dismissal during a hearing that touched on a range of subjects involving the now-discharged jury.
“It is obviously a matter of contention in this case as to whether the court acted correctly,” Corrigan said.
“I thought it was the right decision, but I know you have rights and I want you to be able to take advantage of those,” the judge told Smith before denying a pair of oral motions that would have raised the possibility of attorneys talking with some jurors about their verdict.