Posts by Brandon Sample

First Step Act Passes Senate

First Step Act Passes Senate

I am pleased to report that the First Step Act has passed the U.S. Senate. The legislation faced a last minute test from three amendments posed by Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR) and John Kennedy (R-AL). But ultimately, the Senate voted down each of the proposed amendments on a bipartisan basis. The first amendment was voted…

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Supreme Court Case Roundup: Recent Criminal Cases

U.S. Supreme Court

In this week’s roundup, we’re going to take a look at the current state of the United States Supreme Court calendar, and get quick summaries of all of the criminal cases that are before the Court this term. But, before diving into the cases, here’s a little background on how the Court administers its cases.…

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First Step Act: There Will be a Vote

First Step Act

We have been covering the historic criminal justice reform bill called the FIRST STEP Act for some time now, and some big news just happened this week. On Tuesday, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky changed course and said that the Senate would vote on the FIRST STEP Act before the end of the year. Over…

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Gamble v. United States on Double Jeopardy

Gamble v. United States, Double Jeopardy

On December 6, 2018, the U.S Supreme Court heard oral argument in the case of Gamble v. United States, No. 17-646. Because we covered the Gamble case in some detail last week, we thought it only fitting that we give you the blow-by-blow on how the oral argument went before the Court. A Little Background…

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Aiding Illegal Immigrants: Law and Free Speech

Aiding Illegal Immigrants, Aid to Illegal Immigrants, Undocumented Immigrants

It seems logical that it is illegal to assist undocumented or illegal immigrants in entering the U.S. without following any of the immigration procedures. However, the question of an immigration consultant providing aid to an undocumented or illegal immigrant is a bit more complex. Does a prohibition on advising someone who resides in the U.S.…

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Impact of Deportation Proceedings on Federal Appeals

Deportation Proceedings

There are plenty of instances of a defendant in a federal criminal proceeding simultaneously facing deportation as an illegal immigrant. The situation gets a bit more complicated when a federal criminal defendant is out free on bond when he is detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for deportation proceedings. In United States v. Veloz-Alonso, the…

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Double Jeopardy Rule Reexamined

Double Jeopardy Rule

The double jeopardy rule is one of the more commonly understood principles of the criminal justice system. Per the Fifth Amendment, no “person [shall] be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb.” If a defendant cannot be tried twice for the same crime, then what gives state…

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Defendant’s Pre-Trial Cooperation Nets Resentencing

Cooperate with the Government

It stands to reason that if a defendant facing criminal charges cooperates with the government, then the government will recommend a reduced sentence. In the case of United States v. Mathes, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals certainly thought so and ordered that a defendant who exhibited “extraordinary cooperation” in the government’s drug trafficking investigation be…

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Bridgegate Scandal Lingers On But Some Charges Dismissed

Bridgegate Scandal Image

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals recently dismissed two counts of civil rights violations against Bill Baroni, the former deputy executive director of the New Jersey Port Authority, and Bridget Anne Kelly, an ex-aide to former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. They were both convicted of several charges based on their involvement in the infamous…

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Juror Misconduct After a Conviction: Potential for New Trial?

Juror Misconduct

In United States v. French, the First Circuit Court of Appeals addressed an interesting development in a case involving two defendants charged with owning and running a marijuana farming operation on about 80,000 acres of land in Maine. Both defendants were convicted of the drug-related charges but later found out that one of the jurors on…

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Impact of Prior State Drug Convictions on Federal Sentences

Prior State Drug Convictions Image

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals recently tackled a complicated issue involving the application of New York state drug laws to the federal sentencing guidelines for a defendant convicted of possessing Xanax with the intent to distribute and possessing a firearm as a convicted felon. In United States v. Townsend, the Second Circuit took a critical…

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Should a Conviction Mean That You Can’t Vote?

Sentencing Issue, Voting Rights, Felon Disenfranchisement Image

Voter suppression laws, gerrymandering, and challenges to the Voting Rights Act are all attacks on citizens’ right to vote, and on their vote being counted. Another voter suppression tactic – one that has been around for centuries – is the use of “felony disenfranchisement” laws in the United States, i.e., laws that restrict the right…

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5 Essential Aspects of a Sentencing Memorandum

Sentencing Memorandum, Sentencing Hearing

The best way to present a cogent, organized, and persuasive sentencing argument is through a Sentencing Memorandum. As you may know, in either state or federal criminal court, the next stage following any criminal conviction is the sentencing stage. During this phase of the criminal process arguments from both sides are made to the judge,…

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