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In 2010, Luis Miranda -- also known as "El Gordo" -- was indicted by a federal grand jury for conspiracy to smuggle drugs into the United States, among other places. In 2012, after a federal court rejected his motion to dismiss the charges because the statute was unconstitutional and because the statute didn't apply to his conduct, El Gordo entered an unconditional guilty plea that purported to prevent him from raising the pretrial motions on appeal.

Well, now El Gordo, and an associated named Francisco Valderrama Carvajal, are appealing their convictions on the same grounds as before.

In 2011, Homeland Security received an anonymous tip that someone was trying to help an Iranian company obtain relays for an Iranian power project. The source shared an email from that person, which contained a phone number. Homeland Security searched for this number in its secret database and found a match for a number in Los Angeles.

They searched for more information in their database, finding that the suspect -- Shantia Hassanshahi -- had been investigated before for violating the Iranian trade embargo. More investigations resulted in Hassanshahi being detained at LAX in 2012, during which time his laptop was seized and he was questioned.

It's like a scene out of an after-school special: Police are called to the scene of a raucous house party, and finding illegal activity going on, they arrest everyone -- including the party's host, who, as it turns out, doesn't even live there.

That's more or less what the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police wanted the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to see. But the court saw quite the opposite: a party that wasn't in violation of any ordinances, admittedly no illegal activity going on, and a party host whose residency at the house wasn't so cut-and-dry.

Five of the partygoers sued the police for false arrest, and the D.C. Circuit Court affirmed a grant of summary judgment to them.

Former Reagan press secretary James Brady's death earlier this month has been ruled a homicide by the District of Columbia medical examiner, apparently based on his being shot in 1981 by John Hinckley Jr.

Hinckley was trying to assassinate President Reagan but failed; instead, he wounded both Reagan and Brady, who was shot in the head. A jury found Hinckley not guilty by reason of insanity (he said he'd shot Reagan to impress actress Jodie Foster, whom he had been stalking), though he didn't go free. He's spent his life since then in St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington, D.C., as The New York Times has reported.

But even with the homicide ruling, prosecuting Hinckley for Brady's death 33 years after the shooting "could prove tough," an Associated Press headline from over the weekend reads. That would seem to be an understatement.

Barry Gewin has been a troublesome defendant. In 2006, a jury convicted Gewin of securities fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy after a trial in which he represented himself. At sentencing, he refused to give the probation department a full accounting of his assets. The court took what assets it knew about -- including those controlled by his wife -- into account and calculated a bill for $651,541.82, to be paid immediately toward a total amount of restitution and fines for $2.4 million. A year later, Gewin had paid only $1,325 of that amount and tried to send the court a fake International Bill of Exchange for $2.5 million. As you might expect, these actions got him extra time added on for contempt in a 2007 order.

Not that the contempt order mattered. By 2012, the District Court continued its order holding him in civil contempt, as Gewin still hadn't paid any more toward his restitution bill. He challenged the order pro se, arguing that he didn't have control over his wife's accounts and apologizing up and down for not complying with the order.

On appeal to the D.C. Circuit, Gewin made a brand-new argument: The District Court violated his Due Process Rights by not offering to provide counsel during the 2012 contempt proceedings.

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D.C. Circuit Affirms Prison Sentence Imposed After Acquittal

The D.C. Circuit affirmed a lower court ruling that found a man's prison sentence constitutional even though it was imposed by a judge after he was acquitted by the jury.

In U.S. v Jones, the D.C. Circuit relies on precedent that basically states a sentencing court can base a sentence on acquitted conduct without violating the defendant's Sixth Amendment right to a trial by jury.

No one likes wiretaps, but the D.C. Circuit isn't particularly fond of wiretap warrants which are facially deficient. And the remedy in U.S. v. Glover was a new trial.

You can't exactly blame the court for its inclinations; an obviously legally lacking warrant that is executed to spy on domestic suspects isn't exactly the fantasy of any enlightened democracy.

So why exactly did the D.C. Circuit knock this case back to trial?

While the D.C. Circuit may be withholding any sort of published opinion from us all -- was it something we said? -- oral arguments are going off without a hitch.

As September wraps up and October begins, we take a look at three cases in oral arguments before the D.C. Circuit: a birther defamation suit, a Medicare adjustment case, and the conviction of Bin Laden's publicist.

These oral arguments may be setting the stage for a momentous 2013 - 2014 session.

Imagine one minute you’re being accused of conspiracy to deal large amounts of heroin, and the next minute the prosecutor at your trial is calling you Tony Montana from “Scarface” in closing arguments.

In U.S. v. Antonio Valdez (aka Tony), Appellant Antonio Valdez didn’t have to imagine too hard after the same stunt was pulled at his federal drug trial, and although the D.C. Circuit frowned on it, they didn’t believe the prosecutor’s movie trivia shenanigans were worth a new trial.

Hussain v. Obama and the D.C. Circuit: The Duck Test

In Hussain v. Obama, A three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit has affirmed the district court’s decision to deny Guantanamo detainee Abdul al Qader Ahmed Hussain’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus.

The court determined that the habeas court’s findings of fact were not “clearly erroneous.” Instead, the court found the findings support the conclusion that Hussain was more likely than not a member of enemy forces.