Court Opinions: 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinions for April 27, 28

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals

Editor’s Note: Law Week Colorado edits court opinion summaries for style and, when necessary, length.

United States v. Hennis

In 2017, Richard Hennis pleaded guilty to one count of production of child pornography and one count of transportation of child pornography. The district court sentenced Hennis to 27 years imprisonment and 10 years supervised release. Upon motion of the government, this court dismissed his direct appeal given a broad appellate waiver in the plea agreement and Hennis’ concession of its applicability. 

In January 2018, Hennis filed a pro se 28 U.S. Code 2255 motion, raising six claims of ineffective assistance of counsel including failure to investigate a possible diminished capacity defense and to present mitigating factors at sentencing. 

After the government’s response, Hennis filed a motion to stay and for leave to amend his motion, asserting his initial motion was filed prematurely and raised three additional claims. Hennis’ council later moved to file an amended motion proposing a new claim of ineffective assistance for failure to seek suppression of evidence.

The district court denied leave and declined to consider the counseled claim of ineffective assistance of counsel because it differs significantly from those previously advanced. 

Hennis appealed, contending the district court erred in denying him leave and striking his proposed amended claim by maintaining the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996’s one-year limitation period should be equitably tolled.

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals denied the certificate of appealability and dismissed the appeal, ruling that Hennis failed to make a substantial showing that his constitutional rights were violated. 

Grays v. Auto Mart USA, LLC, et al.

In a prior appeal, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a judgment in favor of numerous defendants in this case, but remanded for the district court to determine whether to award Tiffany Grays the $11,814.62 in expenses she claimed for her partial success on a motion to compel discovery. 

The district court determined Grays failed to demonstrate she incurred any reasonable expenses attributable to making the successful portion of her motion to compel and declined to award any expenses.

Grays argued that because she was unable to afford counsel, equal protection and due process entitled her to an award of lost wages in lieu of the attorney fees. The 10th Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision and denied Grays’ request. 

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