U.S. Tenth Circuit - The FindLaw 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

June 2012 Archives

SCOTUS Overturns 10th Circuit on Stolen Valor Act

The vast majority of Thursday’s news cycle will be dedicated the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act. A far smaller portion of news coverage will examine the Court’s decision to overturn the Stolen Valor Act.

Within that Stolen Valor Act coverage, you’ll likely hear stories about Xavier Alvarez, the California man who lied about receiving the Congressional Medal of Honor, and found himself arguing to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court that the Act was unconstitutional.

Cookie Coercion? Tea Party Doesn't Trump Waiver of Appeal

Earlier this year, we learned that the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals won’t suppress a confession based on a defendant’s assertion that she was under the influence of methamphetamine at the time she confessed.

Now, the Tenth Circuit has ruled that a defendant cannot withdraw her guilty plea based on her claims that a Department of Justice official used cookies and tea to coerce her to accept the agreement.

Prosecutorial Misconduct Claims Win Second Shot at Appeal

Two men convicted on drug-related charges are getting a second chance to appeal their convictions after alleging that they were the victims of prosecutorial misconduct.

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals remanded their case this week, instructing the district court to look into whether a prosecutor’s false statement improperly prevented them from obtaining relevant discovery.

'Overwhelming Evidence': Nude Farming Is Not Therapy

A Kansas social worker convicted of enslaving mentally-ill residents of a group home, and forcing them to engage in sexual acts and nude farming as part of their "therapy," cannot appeal his 30-year prison sentence on the grounds of ineffective counsel, reports The Associated Press.

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this week that the former social worker, Arlan Kaufman, did not qualify for a certificate of appealability.

Robert Bacharach's Tenth Circuit Nomination Held Up in Senate

U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert E. Bacharach has support from his home state senators and a "unanimously well qualified" rating from the American Bar Association, but he doesn't have enough Republican support in the Senate to be confirmed for the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals before November, reports The Oklahoman.

President Obama nominated Judge Bacharach to fill Judge Robert Henry's vacancy on the Tenth Circuit in January. At the time, Oklahoma's senators, Jim Inhofe and Tom Coburn, expressed their support for Bacharach's nomination. Sen. Inhofe told The Oklahoman, "I like the guy ... it's not very often the White House and I agree on anything."

Fake Lawyer Howard Kieffer Wins Sentencing Error Appeal

Howard Kieffer is kind of like Leonardo DiCaprio’s character in Catch Me If You Can, (without Leo’s movie star looks). Though he never attended law school or passed the bar, Kiefer gained admission to multiple federal trial and appellate courts, and managed successful law practices across multiple states.

Courts frown on fake lawyering, so they were not kind when Kieffer’s lies finally caught up with him. In 2009, a jury in the District of North Dakota convicted the defendant of mail fraud, and making false statements. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the convictions. In 2010, a jury a Colorado federal court also convicted him of making false statements, in addition to wire fraud, and contempt of court. Monday, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed that conviction.

Court Decides Attorneys Fees, Notes First Amendment Ratification

The problem with reading appellate opinions all day is that it makes us question what is wrong with the characters that occupy the courts, on both sides of the bench.

This week, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a district court can't just spitball and award a litigant $8,000 in attorneys fees, ($1,000 for each day of an eight-day trial), when the party asked for $503,000. There has to a method to the madness, and an explanation for that method.

SCOTUS Signals Howards End in Qualified Immunity Appeal

Steven Howards can't sue the Secret Service agents who arrested him after he expressed his disapproval for the war in Iraq to then-Vice President Dick Cheney.

The Supreme Court overruled the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals prior decision in the case on Monday, holding that the agents were entitled to qualified immunity because -- at the time Howards was arrested -- it was not clearly established that an arrest supported by probable cause could give rise to a First Amendment violation.

Indecent Proposal to a Minor is a Crime of Violence

Perhaps the Sentencing Guidelines should have included an enhancement for past "nefarious deeds" instead of past "crimes of violence" because no defendant seems willing to concede that his past conviction constituted a crime of violence.

It's understandable that -- when faced with additional time in the slammer -- a defendant would fight for his freedom. But the "crime of violence" designation can be confusing. Today's Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals case provides an example.