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Defendants Walter and Steven Reed appealed their convictions for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering, as well as the substantive counts of wire fraud and money laundering. Walter was also convicted of additional counts. The charges stemmed from defendants' use of Walter's District Attorney campaign funds. The Fifth Circuit vacated the district court's imposition of joint and several liability for money forfeiture in light of the Supreme Court's decision in Honeycutt v. United States, which held that joint and several forfeiture liability was not permitted for forfeiture under 21 U.S.C. 853(a)(1), which mandates forfeiture for certain drug crimes. In this case, the government conceded that the imposition of joint and several forfeiture liability should be vacated and remanded in light of Honeycutt. The court otherwise affirmed the district court's judgment. View "United States v. Reed" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit vacated defendant's conviction for count 23 -- possession, use, and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence (brandishing) -- where both parties agreed that under United States v. Davis, 903 F.3d 483, 484–86 (5th Cir. 2018), defendant's conviction of conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery (count 1) could not serve as the underlying crime of violence predicate for his initial count 23 conviction. The court also held that, because the conviction affected his sentence, the sentence must be vacated and remanded for resentencing. View "United States v. Lewis" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Fifth Circuit denied petitioner's application for a certificate of appealability (COA) to challenge the denial of his Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(6) motion. The court held that there were no extraordinary circumstances meriting Rule 60(b)(6) relief. The court held that, even if petitioner's claims were not procedurally defaulted under Martinez v. Ryan, 566 U.S. 1, 14 (2012), and Trevino v. Thaler, 569 U.S. 413, 428 (2013), he was ineligible for Rule 60(b)(6) relief. Furthermore, petitioner neither alleged racial discrimination nor demonstrated how his claims gave rise to the sort of pernicious injury that affects communities at large. View "Raby v. Davis" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for the employer in an action alleging retaliation under Texas law. The court held that, although the district court erred by concluding that New Mexico law applied in this case, the protected conduct plaintiff described was not a but-for cause of their terminations. The court explained that an employee bringing a retaliation claim under the Texas Occupational Code must demonstrate that he would not have been terminated but for his protected conduct. In this case, plaintiffs' refusal to train a patient independently was not a necessary, or but-for, cause of the firings. View "Almeida v. Bio-Medical Applications of Texas, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence for conspiracy to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine. The court held that there was ample evidence introduced at trial by which a jury could find, beyond a reasonable doubt, that defendant was involved in a conspiracy to distribute cocaine; the evidence was sufficient to find that he was involved with, or should have reasonably foreseen that he was involved with, a conspiracy to distribute five or more kilograms of cocaine; and the district court did not err in relying on the jury's finding of drug quantity when imposing the sentence. View "United States v. Gonzalez" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Fifth Circuit reversed defendant's conviction for bank fraud perpetrated upon a branch of J.P. Morgan Chase Bank under 18 U.S.C. 1344(1). The court held that there was insufficient evidence to show that defendant made false statements to Chase Bank or that she made false statements to another party while intending to obtain money from Chase Bank in a way that exposed Chase Bank to a risk of loss. Therefore, the government failed to prove that defendant defrauded the bank without an FDIC-insured victim. View "United States v. Perez-Ceballos" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of a petition for habeas corpus based on lack of jurisdiction. At issue was whether petitioner was "in custody" under the challenged state court judgment. The court held that, because it was undisputed that petitioner will be civilly committed upon the completion of his criminal sentence, he was "in custody" under the civil commitment order when he filed his 28 U.S.C. 2254 petition. Accordingly, the court remanded for the district court to consider the petition in the first instance. View "Rubio v. Davis" on Justia Law

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This appeal stemmed from RPD's purchase of a patent license from multiple debtors in bankruptcy sales of their estates. Tech Pharm alleged that RPD did not have rights under the license to Tech Pharm's patented invention. The bankruptcy court held that RPD did not have rights and the district court agreed. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment and held that the patent license was a rejected executory contract and could not have been transferred by the bankruptcy sales in question. In this case, because the license agreement was an executory contract deemed rejected by operation of law, RPD could not and did not acquire the license from any of the Grapevine, Western Pennsylvania, and Waco estates—and no bankruptcy court order held otherwise. Finally, the court held that the bankruptcy court did not exceed its authority in addressing RPD's rights through purchase of the OnSite machines, and did not err in reading the license agreement to require that third parties operate OnSite machines in the same locations where they were placed at the time of sale. View "RPD Holdings, LLC v. Tech Pharmacy Services" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit denied WCX's petition for review of the FCC's order denying its application for review to apply the Automatic Roaming Rule to its dispute. The court held that any alleged error that the Commission may have made in stating that WCX requested Mobile Broadband Internet Access Services was harmless and therefore did not warrant vacatur; the Commission did not act arbitrarily or capriciously in concluding that the Data Roaming Rule applied to this dispute; and the Commission's determination that AT&T's proposed rates were commercially reasonable was supported by substantial evidence and not arbitrary and capricious. View "Worldcall Interconnect, Inc. v. FCC" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed defendant's convictions for charges related to a murder for hire and held that defendant was competent to stand trial. The court could not say that the district court's considered decision that defendant was malingering and not presently suffering from a mental disease was "clearly arbitrary or unwarranted." Furthermore, the district court did not reversibly err in finding that defendant was competent to stand trial where he possessed both a factual and rational understanding of the proceedings. Finally, defendant's challenges to the denial of request for funding for a neuro-psychological evaluation was not properly before the court, the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying motions for a continuance of the joint competency hearing, and denial of the motions for funding and a continuance did not amount to a denial of defendant's right to expert assistance. View "United States v. Porter" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law