Criminal Law News - U.S. Eleventh Circuit
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Quartavious Davis and five others were found guilty of robbery and racketeering, among other things, in 2011. The government used historical cell-site information to place Davis and the others close to the scenes of the robberies around the time they occurred.

Historical cell-site information consists of the records of which cell tower a phone was closest to at the time it made a call, along with the direction of the caller from the tower. This can be used to calculate a location for the caller.

One fish, two fish, red fish, short fish?

John L. Yates is a commercial fisherman. In 2007, he was hauling in some red grouper when a fisheries officer boarded his ship to inspect his haul. After measuring the fish and finding that some of them were less than the minimum size of 20 inches, he issued Yates a citation and set aside the short fish for inspection at the docks.

Yates had his crew toss the short fish overboard and replace them with other fish. He was later convicted for violating an evidence destruction provision of the the Sarbanes-Oxley Act banking reform statute, passed in the wake of the Enron scandal. He's appealing that conviction to the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that the vague statute has no place in the Gulf of Mexico.

They are a trio of siblings so famous that GQ did an entire profile on them, post-crime spree. Dylan was the leader, Ryan was his younger brother who was on probation for sending explicit text messages to a minor. And Lee-Grace? She was the stripper with a machine pistol. Together, the Dougherty Gang shot at and outran a cop in Florida, robbed a bank in Georgia, and led officers on a high speed chase in Colorado, before spike strips sent their car into a tumble.

After a few more shots fired, and three arrests, the trio each earned a sentence of 428 months here in the Eleventh Circuit, along with other sentences in other jurisdictions. Now, thanks to a misinterpreted sentencing guideline, and one sibling's botched paperwork, Dylan and Lee-Grace will get a shot a resentencing, while Ryan counts down the next thirty-five years in a cell.

On Tuesday, the first execution since the botched, torturous death of Clayton Lockett seven weeks ago went through without a hitch. After apologizing for his actions, Marcus Wellons was executed for the rape and murder of his neighbor, 15-year-old India Roberts, reports The New York Times.

However, a concurrence in the denial of a last minute stay by the Eleventh Circuit highlighted an unanswered question that remains for Georgia and other states with capital punishment and secretly sourced lethal injection drugs.

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Fun fact: if your cell phone is turned on, your phone carrier can tell where you are.

How? Your phone's radio is constantly connecting to cell phone towers, which means even without a GPS signal, the carrier can approximate your location. You may have already know this (it shows up in movies all the time), but if you didn't, well, you do now. What you probably didn't know is that it might be legal for the police to snatch this data without a warrant.

Unless you reside in the Eleventh Circuit.

Something about this deal stinks.

In 2006, according to the Eleventh Circuit, Jeffrey Epstein was investigated by the FBI for sexually abusing "several minor girls." He was eventually non-pros'd by the U.S. Attorney's Office as part of a plea deal in which he would plead guilty to state charges of solicitation of prostitution and procurement of minors to engage in prostitution.

Paul Cassell, the attorney for two of Epstein's victims, describes the case in more extreme terms on The Volokh Conspiracy, noting that "wealthy investor Jeffrey Epstein had sexually abused dozens and dozens of minor girls." After extensive plea negotiations, during which the victims were kept completely in the dark, he copped a plea to "minor Florida offenses."

Cassell, along with his co-counsel Brad Edwards, filed suit on behalf of two Jane Does, seeking eventually to have the non-prosecution agreement rescinded. To justify such a remedy, they sought discovery of pretrial correspondence between Epstein and the U.S. Attorney's Office. The request was granted by the district court, and last week, the Eleventh Circuit affirmed.

Three restaurant robberies. Two bullets fired at each. One surviving victim.

Anthony Ray Hinton was the triggerman ... maybe.

According to the original appellate case opinion, the surviving witness, as well as others, identified Hinton as the perpetrator of the third robbery. (He was neither indicted nor convicted for the robbery, but was convicted and sent to death row over the two prior murders.) Then again, his boss and other witnesses claim that he was working in a locked, secured warehouse at the time of the robbery.

"Here, Mr. Howell appears to have colorable claims that both his trial attorney, who fabricated death threats to be excused from representing Mr. Howell, and his initial habeas attorney, who did not even contact Mr. Howell until after his federal habeas deadline had passed, were incompetent, ineffective, and deeply unprofessional. I continue to believe that it is unconstitutional and immoral for death row inmates to lose a fundamental constitutional right because of their attorney's errors, especially when they are as egregious as those we deal with here." (Judge Rosemary Barkett)

In short: Paul Howell got screwed. As we related earlier this week, Howell was convicted of killing a state trooper using a pipe bomb that was intended for a witness in an unrelated case. He's probably not a nice guy. He is, however, guaranteed a fair trial and a habeas appeal. Arguably, he received neither.

And thanks to the intricacies of habeas procedure, he won't, unless the Supreme Court steps in.

Déjà freaking vu. In fact, déjà déjà vu.

Last April, a particularly unsympathetic death row inmate was denied habeas review by the Eleventh Circuit despite his incompetent attorney's negligence. She botched the state collateral review petition, thereby missing the federal one-year deadline. The Eleventh refused to apply the Supreme Court's Holland v. Florida (2010) decision, where the Court held that an attorney's gross negligence warranted equitable tolling of the statute of limitations.

At the time, noted anti-death penalty judge Rosemary Barkett wrote a reluctant concurrence, citing her dissent in a similar case, Hutchinson v. Florida. The issue creept up again in Howell v. Florida, though with a different procedural history. Again, Barkett reluctantly concurred, citing the same concurrence.

Howell is now seeking Supreme Court review.

This is not a particularly exciting case, but it is an issue of first impression and a new rule in the Eleventh Circuit.

Sirtaj "Tosh" Mathauda was running a fake franchise scam. His pop-up companies would advertise franchises for businesses opportunities, such as vending machines and greeting card displays. They'd collect the fees using a Costa Rican call center, then shut down and keep the money. The operation netted millions in fraudulently obtained cash.

Mathauda was convicted on a handful of fraud charges, and he received a sentence enhancement for violating a court order (to stop scamming people) from a related civil proceeding brought by the FTC. The problem is, he never knew about that order.