The Fourth Circuit decided two criminal cases today, one involving a challenge to district court's imposition of a mandatory minimum sentence based on violation of a state's blue-light statute, and a second criminal case involving suppression of evidence.
In US v. Rivers, No. 09-4336, the court faced a challenge to the imposition of a mandatory fifteen-year minimum sentence on a defendant convicted of a being a felon in possession of a firearm under the Armed Career Criminal Act.
In light of the Supreme Court's decision in Chambers v. US., the court reversed district court's decision and held that a violation of South Carolina's blue light statute does not qualify as a predicate offense for purposes of the ACCA.
In US v. Rooks, No. 08-4725, the court faced a challenge to the denial of motion to suppress and conviction for drug related crime.
As stated in the decision: "Because Nunez detected marijuana in the Mercury, he was authorized to conduct a pat-down for weapons; Nunez could therefore position Rooks in such a way as to facilitate that procedure."
Thus, the court held that the drugs discarded by defendant and his statement to the officer were not the fruit of an unconstitutional seizure, and as such, district court did not err in denying defendant's motion to suppress. Defendant's remaining contentions were rejected including district court's sentencing of defendant as a career offender.