Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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In 2013, Cleaton, a Correctional Officer at the Federal Correctional Complex in Petersburg, Virginia, was indicted in Virginia state court on a felony charge for possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. He pled no contest to the felony charge pursuant to a plea deal. The court deferred the imposition of the sentence “upon the condition that defendant cooperate fully with the requests for information made by the Probation Officer, who is directed to conduct a thorough investigation and to file a long-form presentence report with the Court.” Weeks later, the Bureau of Prisons proposed to remove Cleaton from his position pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 7371(b). The Merit System Protection Board upheld the removal, rejecting Cleaton’s claim that he had not been convicted of a felony. After Cleaton was removed, he obtained new counsel and entered into a revised plea agreement. The court clarified that, upon successful completion of the probation period, the charges against Cleaton will be dismissed. The Federal Circuit affirmed. An individual can be “convicted” for purposes of section 7371(b) “once guilt has been established whether by plea or by verdict and nothing remains to be done except pass sentence.” View "Cleaton v. Dept. of Justice" on Justia Law

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Crooker, who has a lengthy criminal history, pled guilty to charges of mailing a threatening communication and possession of a toxin without registration. He is serving a sentence of 15 years, having received credit toward that sentence for 2,273 days he spent imprisoned on a prior conviction for transportation of a firearm in interstate commerce by a convicted felon, which was overturned on appeal. Crooker filed suit under the Unjust Conviction and Imprisonment Act, 28 U.S.C. 1495, 2513, seeking damages for the time he spent in prison on overturned conviction, despite the sentencing credit. The Court of Federal Claims awarded him the statutory maximum for the first 1,259 days, $172,465.75. The Federal Circuit reversed: the entirety of Crooker’s “unjust” imprisonment has been applied to a “just” conviction and, as a result, he will spend no more time in prison than he is legally required. Crooker is not entitled to any damages under the Unjust Conviction and Imprisonment Act. View "Crooker v. United States" on Justia Law

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In 2009, the Securities and Exchange Commission indicted Stanford for operating a multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme. The government seized most of his assets rendering him an indigent defendant. Court-appointed counsel obtained authorization for legal services under the Criminal Justice Act (CJA), 18 U.S.C. 3006A(e), and employed Marcum for forensic accounting and litigation support, with an estimated budget of $4.5 million. The district court approved the budget, but Marcum did not obtain the Fifth Circuit's approval, as required by the CJA. Marcum’s work far exceeded the budget. Marcum received payment for work performed in June- August 2011,then submitted vouchers for work performed in September-November totaling $845,588.48. The district court certified only the September and October vouchers. Marcum attempted to resign from the case. Chief Judge Jones of the Fifth Circuit issued a Service Provider Continuity and Payment Order, authorizing payment of $205,000 for the September and October vouchers and ordered Marcum to continue working because “[i]t would be neither feasible nor economical to obtain a replacement.” Under threat of contempt sanctions, Marcum continued to work through the end of trial and claims unpaid fees of $1.2 million. Marcum filed an emergency motion for reconsideration, an emergency application for a stay before the U.S. Supreme Court, an emergency motion for a stay or a petition for writ of mandamus before the Fifth Circuit, and a petition for mandamus to the Supreme Court. All were denied. Marcum sued the Court of Federal Claims, which dismissed the claim for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The Federal Circuit affirmed. Because the CJA provides its own remedial scheme, Marcum cannot collaterally attack the Fifth Circuit’s determination of Marcum’s fee awards under the Tucker Act. View "Marcum LLP v. United States" on Justia Law

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Matthews enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1990. In 2006, while on active duty, he pled guilty to computer pornography and solicitation of a child. He was sentenced to 21 years plus 10 months in prison. In 2007, an administrative separation board imposed an “other than honorable” discharge on Matthews. In 2010, Matthews sought back pay from the date of his arrest and “retainer” pay, based on a total of 20 years of active duty, reached while incarcerated. He claimed he was not properly discharged, citing the Government in the Sunshine Act, 5 U.S.C. 552b; the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. 552; the Military Whistleblower Protection Act, 10 U.S.C. 1034; and the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. 706. The Claims Court of held that it lacked jurisdiction over claims founded on the four statutes because they are not money-mandating and held that Matthews failed to state claims for back pay under 37 U.S.C. 204(a) and retainer pay under 10 U.S.C. 6330(b). The statute prohibits service members from receiving pay for absences without leave that are not unavoidable; an absence due to civilian incarceration is not unavoidable. When he was arrested Matthews had not reached the 20 years of active duty service required to receive retainer pay. The Federal Circuit affirmed. View "Matthews v. United States" on Justia Law