Go “D”!

We bring you two nice defense victories this week:

The first win is US v. Burke, a case in which Judge Roger Titus sitting in the District of Maryland granted the Defendant’s motion to suppress statements and evidence flowing from an illegal traffic stop.  The issue was whether a traffic stop that served as the pretext for an investigation of unrelated criminal activity was reasonable.  It is rare for the defense to prevail in such matters, but it is also rare for the government’s witness to testify that the basis for the stop was “there must have been a [traffic] violation because I pulled him over.”  Is that like saying “he must have been innocent because we dismissed the charges”?

The second case, outside of our geography but won by fellow blogger and law school friend David Markus, is US v. Shaygan.  The Shaygan case involved a South Florida doctor who was accused of distributing illegal prescription drugs.  You know you’ve tried a good case when jurors want to hug your client before leaving the courtroom.

Stephanie’s Fresh Perspective

To Cooperate or Not:  Know Thy Judge

In the current world of federal sentencing, one factor has taken on a much greater significance in the past couple of years:  the judge.  Previously, the federal sentencing guidelines, which for all intents and purposes could have been used to swear-in witnesses, was considered biblical in nature at a defendant’s sentencing hearing.  Now, because judges are again permitted to be judges, the length and nature of a sentence for identical offenses can vary drastically in courtrooms down the hall from one another. 



Soon after being charged, a criminal defendant is often faced with a life-altering decision:  whether he should cooperate with law enforcement officials in an effort to lower his sentence.  The risks of cooperation are obvious.  First, there are valid safety concerns.  It has become fairly routine recently for federal inmates to arrive to their designated prison and be pressured by fellow inmates to hand over their PreSentence Investigation Report or Judgment and Commitment Order (J & C) within 30 days.  This is being done in an effort to determine if the newly-arrived prisoner cooperated with  authorities.   Of course, BOP regulations prohibit an inmate from possessing such sensitive documents (and attorneys from sending such materials) so the new inmate has a legitimate basis to decline the request.  Still, safety concerns are something that a federal defendant must consider. Continue reading “Stephanie’s Fresh Perspective”