Pretty crazy story broken by Joshua Goodman, a reporter from the AP, about a former American diplomat who was allegedly a spy for Cuba. For two decades the man, Manuel Rocha, held top diplomatic posts on behalf of the United States in Bolivia, Argentina, and the U.S. Interests Section in Havana. All the while, he was living a double life, allegedly bringing intelligence back to Cuba. Part of his cover, apparently, was posing as an ardent "right-wing person," including as a major fan of former President Trump.
And it probably continued into his time at the private sector. In his post-government career, he served as a special advisor to the commander of the U.S. Southern Command.
The U.S. Attorney's office in Miami charged him in a criminal complaint, posted here. He's being defended by Jackie Arango.
We know from United States v. Garcon that in the 11th Circuit "and" means "and" for purposes of the safety valve provision of the Sentencing Guidelines. (Another case involving the same issue was argued earlier this Term in the Supreme Court.)
Despite the en banc 11th Circuit already saying "and" means "and" for purposes of the Sentencing Guidelines, federal prosecutors and probation officers are taking the position that the word "and" means "or" in the new "Zero Point Offender" sentencing guideline provision, which provides that if you have no criminal history, you receive an additional two level reduction so long as certain other conditions are met. One of the conditions is that:"(10) the defendant did not receive an adjustment under §3B1.1 (Aggravating Role) and was not engaged in a continuing criminal enterprise, as defined in 21 U.S.C. § 848." (emphasis added).
Here are their opening statements. Really well done. I thought each of the nominees gave personal and touching openings. And they were all very well spoken.
NOMINEE: Jacqueline Becerra to the Southern District of Florida— Senate Judiciary Committee (@JudiciaryDems) November 29, 2023
Judge Becerra’s judicial and litigation experience — both as a federal prosecutor and in private practice — has prepared her to serve with distinction. pic.twitter.com/VfmtQVEO4e
NOMINEE: Melissa Damian to the Southern District of Florida— Senate Judiciary Committee (@JudiciaryDems) November 29, 2023
As a litigator, Judge Damian tried more than 30 cases to verdict.
Her experience in the courtroom in both civil and criminal matters has prepared her to serve on the federal bench. pic.twitter.com/v3NLDmGkbG
NOMINEE: David Leibowitz to the Southern District of Florida— Senate Judiciary Committee (@JudiciaryDems) November 29, 2023
Mr. Leibowitz is an accomplished litigator who has prosecuted a wide range of federal crimes, from insider trading to terrorism.
He has strong ties to this district, and his experience will be an asset. pic.twitter.com/FNM6nAsCSp
The case is Brown v. U.S. and the issue is: Whether the "serious drug offense" definition in the Armed Career Criminal Act incorporates the federal drug schedules that were in effect at the time of the federal firearm offense or the federal drug schedules that were in effect at the time of the prior state drug offense.
Bloomberg has a nice article about Adler, his office (including support from Michael Caruso) and trend of FPDs arguing more cases:
Andrew Adler will make his third trip to the US Supreme Court lectern on Monday as one of a handful of federal public defenders to argue more than once.
Federal defenders from across the nation have argued at least one case every term except for one since at least 2000, according to Adler. Most often, it’s their first and only time in front of the justices.
With the Supreme Court hearing fewer and fewer cases each term, the criminal defense attorneys—like most first-time advocates—face intense pressure from elite law firms to turn over their Supreme Court cases to experienced advocates.
In response to that pressure, and to criticism from the justices, federal defenders have developed support systems to help prepare for a successful argument—both of which Adler took advantage of again this time around.
The Defender Supreme Court Resource & Assistance Panel, for example, partners first time advocates with federal defenders with high court experience.
The goal is to provide resources to offices that want to argue their cases themselves, according to Fran Pratt, an assistant federal public defender in the Eastern District of Virginia who co-chairs the group.
“I think the work product and advocacy has improved immeasurably, the best of both worlds,” said Michael Caruso, the federal public defender for the Southern District of Florida, which is based in Miami.
Yes, according to George Conway, Michael Luttig, and Barbara Jean Comstock, who wrote this essay in the New York Times.
Why, you ask?
Because it's still beholden to Trump. So they've started the Society for the Rule of Law Institute -- a competitor to the Federalist Society with no Trump ties. It is "an organization of conservative lawyers committed to the foundational constitutional princoples we once all agreed upon," including "the primacy of American democracy, the sanctity of the Constitution, and the rule of law.?
From the NY Times:
We were members of the Federalist Society or followed the organization early in our careers. Created in response to left-liberal domination of the courts, it served a principled role, connecting young lawyers with one another and with career opportunities, promoting constitutional scholarship and ultimately providing candidates for the federal bench and Supreme Court.
But the Federalist Society has conspicuously declined to speak out against the constitutional and other legal excesses of Mr. Trump and his administration. Most notably, it has failed to reckon with his effort to overturn the last presidential election and his continued denial that he lost that election. When White House lawyers are inventing cockamamie theories to stop the peaceful transition of power and copping pleas to avoid jail time, it’s clear that we in the legal profession have come to a crisis point.
We are thankful that there were lawyers in the Trump administration who opted to resign or be fired rather But these exceptions were notably few and far between. More alarming is the growing crowd of grifters, frauds and con men willing to subvert the Constitution and long-established constitutional principles for the whims of political expediency. The actions of these conservative Republican lawyers are increasingly becoming the new normal. For a group of lawyers sworn to uphold the Constitution, this is an indictment of the nation’s legal profession. Any legal movement that could foment such a constitutional abdication and attract a sufficient number of lawyers willing to advocate its unlawful causes is ripe for a major reckoning.
We must rebuild a conservative legal movement that supports and defends American democracy, the Constitution and the rule of law and that incentivizes and promotes those lawyers who are prepared to do the same. To that end, we have formed a nonprofit organization, the Society for the Rule of Law Institute, to bring sanity back to conservative lawyering and jurisprudence.
There is a need and demand for this new legal movement that the legal profession can readily meet. Pro-democracy, pro-rule-of-law lawyers who populate our law school campuses, law firms and the courts decry what is happening in our profession. They deserve an outlet to productively channel these sentiments.
Thanksgiving is one of the best times to watch football. And we have a Dolphins game on Black Friday. If you're racking your brain trying to remember the last time the NFL played on a Friday, there's a reason for that. They don't do it often. And it's because of a law! From the Herald:
"The NFL traditionally doesn’t play Friday games in part because of Congress’ Sports Broadcasting Act. A 1966 amendment withdrew antitrust immunity for any pro football telecast if a high school or college football game is played within 75 miles of the station airing the NFL game."
Since 1978, the NFL has played only eight Friday games. So, enjoy this rare opportunity for Friday NFL football with your home team.