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September 2012 Archives

Death Penalty Reinstated in 1988 Murder-Kidnapping Case

A Pennsylvania death row inmate has been playing tug-of-war with his death sentence in the courts. Now, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals has reinstated his death sentence, after the District Court had earlier vacated it.

The District Court found that David Copenhefer had no prior criminal record and that this served as a mitigating factor in his death sentence. This factor, the District Court found, wasn't taken into full account by the trial court during his sentencing phase.

Copenhefer was convicted in the 1988 murder of Sally Weiner. He fatally shot Weiner and sought ransom from her husband, according to The Associated Press.

Day School Owners Lose Tax Fraud Appeal

The Internal Revenue Service isn’t kidding around when it comes to tax evasion. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled in favor of the IRS by upholding the convictions of the owners of the Day School for Children in New Castle, Delaware.

While this sounds like a run-of-the-mill boring tax case, the facts are somewhat egregious. Well, they’re egregious in the sense that this couple actually thought they could get away with going under the table so blatantly.

Hiring Notice: Court Taking Staff Attorney Clerkship Applications

Even if you weren't cut out for a federal judicial clerkship, you can still clerk for the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Third Circuit's Office of the Clerk - Legal Division is accepting applications for federal clerkships until Friday, October 19, 2012. Clerkships are for one or two-year terms beginning September 2013.

Judge Should View Evidence Before Deciding FRE 403 Admissibility

David Cunningham sounds like the kind of person you would want to see locked up in jail for at least 17 years.

In 2007, state and federal law enforcement agents nabbed Cunningham in a child-porn file-sharing investigation. He was arrested and charged for receiving, possessing, and distributing the illegal videos. Cunningham pleaded not guilty -- claiming the porn wasn't his -- but the court convicted and sentenced him to 210 months in jail on the receiving charge.

This week, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Cunningham is entitled to a new trial because the trial court abused its discretion by allowing prosecutors to show jurors videos recovered from Cunningham's computer.

Cop-Blocked: Unprovoked Flight Doesn't Create Reasonable Suspicion

Kenny Rogers explained in "The Gambler" that "You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away and know when to run." It's good advice.

Knowing when to walk away or run can be difficult. For example, is it ever okay to run from a cop?

While fleeing from a cop may not be a good life choice, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this week that it doesn't automatically establish reasonable suspicion for arrest.

Finders, Keepers? Switt Family to Appeal Double Eagle Coin Ruling

Double Eagle gold coins are extremely rare and extremely valuable. The only Double Eagle that is legally-owned by a private collector set the winning bidder back $7.6 million in a 2002 auction.

Last year, a Philadelphia family went to court to argue that the government couldn't keep 10 Double Eagles they found in their father's safe deposit box because it couldn't prove that the coins had been stolen, The New York Times reports. The jury disagreed.

Now, the family wants the Third Circuit Court of Appeals to consider the case after a federal judge recently upheld the jury verdict, according to The Associated Press. That seems like a wise move: The coins are collectively worth almost $80 million.

Hiring Notice: Be the Change You Want to See in the Third Circuit

Back in the day -- and by "in the day," we mean 2006 -- the lure of law school was that most-coveted of starting salaries: $160K.

Those were the days when summer associates returned as 3Ls with offers. Those were the days when firms still hired summer associates. Those were the days when law school seemed like a good bet. Those days are no more.

Now, we're living in the days of alternative legal careers. But it's not all bad news: If you're looking for an alterna-gig that still breaks the $160K mark, you might want to send your resume to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.