Justia U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Criminal Law
by
The Fifth Circuit vacated the district court's sentence after defendant pleaded guilty to providing material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization. The court held that the district court committed procedural error in concluding, as a matter of law, that the terrorism enhancement did not apply and therefore failed to determine whether, as a factual matter, the enhancement applies. Because the error was not harmless, the court vacated the original sentence and remanded for resentencing. View "United States v. Khan" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
by
The burden of proof for the four factor test that prosecutors must satisfy before a court may compel the medication of the accused in Sell v. United States, 539 U.S. 166 (2003), is by clear and convincing evidence, not just by the preponderance of the evidence. The Fifth Circuit vacated the district court's judgment, because it was not clear from the record what burden of proof the district court applied and in light of the sensitivity of the interest involved. The court remanded for the district court to apply the clear and convincing evidence standard. View "United States v. James" on Justia Law

by
The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of habeas relief to petitioner, who was convicted of attempted aggravated robbery and being a felon in possession of a firearm. The court rejected petitioner's claim that he received ineffective assistance of counsel because his trial attorney failed to conduct a sufficient pretrial investigation. In this case, petitioner failed to show prejudice under Strickland v. Washington or other clearly established federal law, because he did not allege what a sufficient investigation would have uncovered or how it would have changed his trial outcome. View "Adekeye v. Davis" on Justia Law

by
The Fifth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence for several health-care-related offenses in connection with recruiting and transporting individuals to Texas Tender Care (TTC) for treatment. The court held that the district court did not err by applying a two-level sentencing enhancement for offenses involving more than ten victims under USSG 2B1.1(b)(2)(A)(i); an eighteen-level enhancement for losses of more than $3.5 million under USSG 2B1.1(b)(1)(J); and a three-level enhancement for loss to a government healthcare program of more than $7 million under USSG 2B1.1(b)(7)(B)(ii). View "United States v. Ainabe" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
by
The Fifth Circuit held that petitioner's prior Texas conviction for possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver was a violation of a state law "relating to a controlled substance" as defined in the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Therefore, the court held that petitioner failed to show that the BIA erred in finding that his Texas drug delivery conviction rendered him removable. The court also held that it lacked jurisdiction to review the BIA's discretionary decision to deny cancellation of removal. Accordingly, the court denied the petition for review of the BIA's decision affirming the IJ's finding of removability and discretionary denial of petitioner's application for cancellation of removal. View "Padilla v. Bar" on Justia Law

by
Petitioner filed a 28 U.S.C. 2254 petition for habeas relief seeking reinstatement of his earned-release supervision (ERS) and trusty time. The district court dismissed the petition for failure to exhaust state remedies and denied Montalto's unopposed motions for sanctions and contempt, as well as criticized MDOC and its counsel for disregarding orders for production and not properly investigating the circumstances of Montalto's revocations. The Fifth Circuit held that judicial criticism amounting to an actual finding of attorney misconduct is directly appealable. Because the court was unable to determine whether the district court made actual findings of professional misconduct, the court remanded with instructions for the district court to clarify its findings regarding counsel's professional misconduct. View "Montalto v. Mississippi Department of Corrections" on Justia Law

by
The Fifth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence imposed after he pleaded guilty of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine. The court held that the district court did not clearly err by applying a sentencing enhancement under USSG 2D1.1(b)(15)(A), because defendant used fear, impulse, friendship, affection, or some combination of thereof to involve his stepson in the controlled substance offense. In this case, the district court did not clearly err in determining that the stepson was not paid for his role in the offense, and the stepson did not have knowledge of the structure and sheer scope of the drug organization. View "United States v. Torres-Magana" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
by
The Fifth Circuit held that 28 U.S.C. 2244(b) barred movant's successive application, and thus denied his motion for authorization to file a successive application for a writ of habeas corpus and to stay execution. The court held that movant's latest filing did not present a new claim of a retroactive constitutional right recognized by the Supreme Court that was previously unavailable to him. To the extent that movant argued that he has now raised an actual Atkins claim for the first time, it would nevertheless be barred. The court stated that any claim similar to what it discussed in In re Johnson, -- F.3d – , 2019 WL 3814384 (5th Cir. 2019), and earlier in In re Cathey, 857 F.3d 221 (5th Cir. 2017), was available to movant at the time of his earlier application for a writ of habeas corpus. View "In Re: Mark Soliz" on Justia Law

by
Petitioner appealed the district court's denial of his federal habeas corpus petition seeking vacatur of his three conspiracy-predicated 18 U.S.C. 924(c) convictions on the ground that Johnson v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 2551 (2015), and Sessions v. Dimaya, 138 S. Ct. 1204 (2018), rendered section 924(c)(3)(B) unconstitutionally vague. The Fifth Circuit vacated and remanded for resentencing, because, while petitioner's appeal was pending, the Supreme Court held that section 924(c)(3)(B) was unconstitutional. In this case, petitioner's section 924(c) conviction allowed for an enhanced sentence on his other section 924(c) offenses. The court left it to the district court's discretion to determine the appropriate sentence. View "United States v. Reece" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
by
The Fifth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence for conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud. The court held that the district court did not err by applying a sentencing enhancement under USSG 2B1.1(b)(11)(C)(i) because defendant unlawfully used each of the beneficiaries' Medicare information (indisputably a means of identification) to produce fraudulent health care claims to bill Medicare. The court also held that the district court did not err by applying USSG 2B1.1(b)(2)(A)(i) because his fraud offense involved 10 or more Medicare beneficiaries. View "United States v. Kalu" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law