Court Opinions- Sep 03, 2018

U.S. v. Miles

Giavanni Miles pleaded guilty to two counts of theft of firearms. He was sentenced to serve two concurrent 70-month terms in prison.

Part of his plea agreement was to waive his rights to appeal unless it met one of three criteria. The first being the sentence exceeds the maximum penalty in the statute of conviction. Second, if the sentence is more than the advisory guideline range. The final criterion was if the government appeals the sentence resulting from trial. Miles appealed his case.

The government motioned to dismiss the appeal. Before the court ruled on the matter, it looked at three issues. First if the appeal was within the scope of the waiver Miles agreed to. Second, if Miles purposefully and willingly waived his rights. And finally the court looked at whether enforcing the waiver was a miscarriage of justice.

Miles argued that the government did not also agree to the waiver as they would any other contract. The court upheld that argument and the government dismissed two of the four indictment counts. Miles did not contend the waiver was unknowing. Miles asked the court to dismiss the appeal to pursue relief in district court regarding his ineffective counsel when negotiating his plea. While the court did grant the government’s motion and dismissed the appeal, it wasn’t because of this request.

U.S. v. Scott

Aug. 30

David Scott was one of three passengers in a car that collided with another. A police officer saw and came to investigate. The driver of Scott’s car fled the scene. Other officers arrived and Scott complied with them by showing them identification and gave information about the accident. Officers found a gun under the back seat in a red bandana with a red-stitched work glove. Scott was wearing several red pieces of clothing. His DNA matched DNA found on the gun. 

Scott had a prior conviction for being a felon possessing a firearm and was arrested by the officers. He was convicted a second time for being a felon possessing a firearm and was sentenced to 60 months in prison.

Scott argued that the jury instructions in his trial misstated what counted as possession of a firearm, and the government agreed it committed that error. Under that alone the court reversed the judgment of the district court and remands to vacate the conviction and sentence for a retrial.

Scott also challenged the admittance of evidence of his prior conviction and testimony by an ex-girlfriend on his ownership and theft of two different guns. The court refused to give an opinion on this as the court had already decided to remand the case. 

Sutton v. Corrections Corporation

Aug. 30

Joshua Sutton alleged that his constitutional rights were violated in the course of his treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder while in prison. 

A magistrate judge ordered he pay a filing fee and a complete in forma pauperis application within 30 days, which he did, however without a proper copy of his prison trust fund account statement. The judge asked Sutton for a copy of that statement and gave him an additional 30 days to do so, warning failure would mean dismissal of the action. Sutton did not submit the statement and his action was dismissed. 

He filed a post-judgment motion under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 60. The district court construed it as a FRCP 59(e) motion and denied it. Sutton appealed.

Sutton asserted he included a sufficient trust fund statement, though it is not on record and he does not give any basis to conclude the document was in his motion when submitted or that it was deliberately excluded. 

The court held the district court did not abuse its discretion. However the court affirmed Sutton’s motion to proceed with in forma pauperis on appeal. 

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