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Mexico's Latest Extraditions

I think the most suspect of Mexico's extradition decisions yesterday is that of Jose Antonio Reynoso-Gonzalez. (Here is Mexico's announcement and here is DOJ's announcement.)

Today Mexico insisted yesterday's extraditions were part of a new streamlined policy and unrelated to the recent escape of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman.

Really? We are supposed to believe it is just happenstance that Jose Antonio Reynoso-Gonzalez, a codefendant of El Chapo in the 1995 San Diego case involving the Otay Mesa tunnel and cocaine smuggled in chili pepper cans was one of the 13 persons extradited? This is the same case for which the U.S. recently sought El Chapo's extradition. [More...]

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Fed. Appeals Court: NSA Mass Call Tracking Program Illegal

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled the NSA's warrantless mass call tracking program under which Verizon collected phone records of all of its customers is illegal -- it violates Section 215 of the Patriot Act.

At issue was a FISA Court order requiring Verizon to turn over on “an ongoing daily basis” phone call details. The details included whom calls are placed to and from, when those calls are made, and how long they last. The order is here.

The case is ACLU v. Clapper. Today's 100 page decision is here.[More...]

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Supreme Court Limits Use of Dog Sniffs During Traffic Stops

Good decision by the Supreme Court yesterday, holding police can't delay a traffic stop to bring on the dogs without reasonable suspicion.

Actual holding: Absent reasonable suspicion, police extension of a traffic stop to conduct a dog sniff violates the Constitution’s shield against unreasonable seizures.

The opinion is here. The 8th Circuit opinion is here.

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FL Judge Strikes Allegations Against Dershowitz and Prince Andrew

The federal judge presiding over the never ending victims rights lawsuit seeking to overturn a federal non-prosecution agreement against Jeffrey Epstein yesterday ruled Jane Doe #3, aka Virginia Roberts, and Jane Doe #4 cannot join Jane Does 1 and 2 as parties to the lawsuit. He also ruled that if called as witnesses for Jane Does 1 and 2, their evidence will have to be admissible, relevant and non-cumulative.

More importantly, the judge ordered all of Roberts' claims against Alan Dershowitz, Prince Andrew and others stricken from the record, finding her allegations amounted to "redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter.” In doing so, the Court said it was acting on its own accord, which made a ruling on Dershowitz' motion to intervene unnecessary. [More...]

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"El Chapo" Guzman: One Year Later

One year ago today, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman was captured in Mazatlan. He's been held at Altiplano prison in Mexico ever since. He has not been extradited. His assets have not been seized or forfeited. There has been no dent in the drugs produced and trafficked by the associated Sinaloa organizations. (Via google translate):

However, one year of "El Chapo" capture, the Sinaloa cartel continues supplying methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine and marijuana to consumers in Los Angeles, area that has been the one of the main markets for Mexican drug traffickers since the 90's, from the time that "El Chapo" was partnered with the Reynoso brothers.


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King v Burwell: Understanding Chevron Deference

In King v Burwell, the Fourth Circuit rejected a challenge to the Affordable Care Act that argued that the law does not permit subsidies and tax credits on the federal exchange. It did so by invoking what is known as Chevron deference, after the 1984 Supreme Court case of the same name. Here is what the Fourth Circuit opined on that point:

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Verdict Watch: Azamat Tazhayakov Jury Deliberations

From the last question asked by jurors deliberating the fate of Azamat Tazhayakov, it appears they are close to a verdict.

During opening arguments, Tazhayakhov's lawyer asked them to "give the kid a shot." Did they? Stay tuned.

Here's the court's verdict form. It mispells Dzhokhar. Here's the five page verdict form the Government wanted.

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Anonymou Sabu's Get of of Jail Free Card

Bump and Update from 5/25/14: As expected, Anonymou Sabu, aka Hector Monsegur, was sentenced to time served today. The judge called his cooperation "extraordinary." See below for the link to his online postings that resulted in his bail being revoked and serving 7 months.

After three years, Anonymou Sabu, aka Hector Monsegur, will finally face a federal judge for sentencing on May 27. The infamous former member of Lulzsec and Anonymous, who agreed to cooperate the night of his arrest on June 7, 2011, agreed to plead guilty to 12 felonies in August, 2011, including nine counts related to computer hacking; one count of credit card fraud; one count of conspiring to commit bank fraud, and one count of aggravated identity theft. Charges pending in four other federal districts were dropped as part of his deal. His plea agreement is here.

The maximum possible sentence for the 12 counts is 122 years. His sentencing guidelines call for a 259 to 317 months sentence (2 years of which are a mandatory minimum.) His guidelines are based on a total loss amount of $20 million to $50 million (the loss caused by his direct participation was $1.5 to $2 million).

As a reward for his cooperation, the Government is seeking no jail time -- a sentence of time served -- with the served part being 7 months he spent in pretrial detention in 2012 after he violated his plea agreement by posting online without authorization and had his bond revoked. [More....]

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AZ Supreme Court Rejects Presence of THC Metabolite as Proof of Drugged Driving

The Arizona Supreme Court has ruled that prosecutors need proof a driver was impaired by his consumption of marijuana to convict of drugged driving. The presence of THC metabolites in the driver's blood is not enough.

The opinion, available here, states that medical evidence shows the presence of Carboxy-THC does not equate to impairment.

“Because carboxy-THC can remain in the body for as many as 28 to 30 days after ingestion, the state’s position suggests that a medical-marijuana user could face prosecution for driving anytime nearly a month after they had legally ingested marijuana,” Brutinel wrote. “Such a prohibition would apply even when the driver had no impairing substance in his or her body.”


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Supreme Court Takes Another Hit at Fourth Amendment

In a 6-3 opinion written by Justice Alito (Justices Ginsburg, Kagan and Sotomayor dissented), the Supreme Court made another dent in the Fourth Amendment today. The case is Fernandez v. California and the opinion is here.

The Court upheld the search of a jointly shared residence even though one of the parties objected. The Court said he wasn't physically present when the search occurred, and it didn't matter that he wasn't there because the police had removed him from the residence -- after he objected to the search.

Previously, in Randolph v. Georgia, the Court held "a physically present inhabitant’s express refusal of consent to a police search[of his home] is dispositive as to him, regardless of the consent of a fellow occupant.”

In this case, police came to suspect Fernandez' home and asked permission to search. Fernandez objected. They hauled him off to jail, came back later when his girlfriend (who was also an alleged victim) was there, and got consent from her. Fernandez' argument:[More...]

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Amanda Knox Convicted at Retrial

An Italian court has convicted Amanda Knox of murder at a retrial, sentencing her to 28 1/2 years in prison. Knox, who lives in Seattle, says she won't return to Italy.

The judge has 90 days to issue a written ruling, and the defense can appeal it.

It's unlikely she would be extradited.

It is unlikely that Knox, who lives in Seattle, Washington, will return to Italy to serve additional prison time because U.S. law dictates that a person cannot be tried twice on the same charge, a legal expert told CNN. He believes that if Italy were to ask for extradition, U.S. officials would deny the request.

Her ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito was also convicted and sentenced to 25 years. He attended portions of the trial and testified at one point. He is an Italian citizen and remains in Italy. It's likely Italy will revoke his passport but he is not expected to be arrested before the judge issues his written ruling.

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Supreme Court: No Right to an Ethical Lawyer

The Supreme Court issued an opinion today in a prominent Michigan murder case, Burt v. Titlow. Details here. Shorter version: There is no constitutional right to an ethical lawyer. If your lawyer violates ethics rules in advising you or preparing your case, tough luck. Andrew Cohen has more.

The opinion is here. No surprise it was written by Justice Alito. Andrew says: [More...]

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1st Circuit Issues 57 page Opinion About Toilets and a 7 Day Jail Sentence

On a lighter note, via How Appealing: Senior U.S District Court Judge Richard Kopf (Nebraska)has a blog about the role of a federal judge called Hercules and the Umpire. A few days ago he wrote a post opining that no misdemeanor and 7 day jail sentence for abuse of a toilet and bathroom warrants 57 pages in an appellate decision. The opinion at issue: U.S. v. Strong, decided last week by the First Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Kopf describes the case:

In Strong, the defendant was convicted of three misdemeanors, and received a sentence of seven days in jail, for literally messing up a bathroom in a federal court-house. He claimed to have a problem with his bowels, but the government saw his conduct in a more malicious light.

Judge Kopf also includes some personal details in his post, including that he's a "toilet freak" and the worst part of moving from being regular District Court Judge to senior status was losing his private bathroom.

I decided to read some more of Judge Kopf's blog. Parts of it are really funny.

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Sentencing Deal for Jeff Skilling Appears Likely

Former CFO of Enron Jeff Skilling may get his sentence cut appreciably if a deal under consideration between his lawyers and DOJ goes through.

DOJ has sent a written notice to victims:

"The Department of Justice is considering entering into a sentencing agreement with the defendant in this matter...."Such a sentencing agreement could restrict the parties and the Court from recommending, arguing for, or imposing certain sentences or conditions of confinement. It could also restrict the parties from challenging certain issues on appeal, including the sentence ultimately imposed by the Court at a future sentencing hearing."

Skilling, who has served six years, has yet to be resentenced following his appeal that tossed a few counts. He is currently scheduled for release in 2028. Will the deal be for time served?

Both Skilling and Blagojevich are serving their sentences at FCI Englewood. Blagojevich is scheduled for release in 2024. I wonder if they are pals.

Details of Skilling's original sentence here. Posts explaining the ensuing twists and turns are assembled here .

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Supreme Court : Copyright Infringement Cases, Different Outcomes

The record companies are happy today. Text book publishers and authors are not.

The Supreme Court has denied cert in the case of Jammie Thomas-Rasset, a native American who uploaded, downloaded or otherwise shared 24 songs on Kazaa, a now-defunct music file-sharing service, for personal use. The record companies sued, and the ultimate judgment against her, after several retrials and appeals with jury verdicts as high as $1.9 million, was $222,000, or $9,250 per song. The issue, according to the Petition for Cert (which includes the 8th Circuit and trial court's opinions in the Appendix portion):

Is there any constitutional limit to the statutory damages that can be imposed for downloading music online?

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