Posts by Damon Chetson

I receive mail about David Steven Bell

David Steven Bell has been charged in Buncombe County with assault on a female and assault on a child under the age of 12. He is set to go to court on February 5. Video shows Mr. Bell punching the girl, who reportedly is 11 years old, outside of a mall in Asheville, North Carolina.…

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Assault on a Child: David Steven Bell

51-year-old David Steven Bell of Black Mountain was arrested and charged by Asheville Police with assaulting a child when he first pushed her and then, after she walked back to him, slugging her in the face knocking her to the ground. There was some type of altercation outside of a mall, and an adult SWS…

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Federal Sentencing Reform: First Steps Act

Donald Trump announced his support for federal sentencing reform earlier this week. What reform and whether he really supports the reform are open questions. Earlier this year the House passed a bill that included only prison reform: laws that govern the treatment of and credit awarded to inmates once they are sentenced by the court.…

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Government’s Motion to Detain Mariia Butina

Last week the Government has charged Mariia Butina with two counts of violating 18 USC 951 which makes it a crime to act as a foreign agent of a government without first registering with the United States Government. Each count is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, although in reality the punishment would…

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Supreme Court Cases from the 2017-2018 Term

With the election of Donald Trump, liberals have worried that Supreme the Court would swing against personal liberties and toward a tough-on-crime approach. But the 2017-2018 term proves that sometimes ideologically conservative justices can come out in favor of defendant rights. Indeed, Antonin Scalia, one of the court’s most conservative justices, singlehandedly recovered the Confrontation…

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For the People: Bad Acting, Dumb Law

What a terrible show. Also, completely incorrect in almost every aspect of federal criminal law. The pilot episode: There are almost never term-of-years pleas in federal court (as one prosecutor makes the WMD client for “15 years”.) The plea is almost always to a charge, with some recommendations to the court (which it can ignore)…

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Child Pornography Bust in Raleigh

WRAL is reporting a child pornography sting operation throughout the southeast. Eight people in North Carolina face charges of sexual exploitation of a minor. Given the multi-state enforcement of child pornography laws, it’s likely that the federal government is involved and this is part of a larger sting operation I’ve written about past child pornography…

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Victory at Court of Appeals: Duress and DWI

We just won a major appeal at the North Carolina Court of Appeals in a Driving While Impaired case. We’ve had this case from day one, where our client was forced to drive away from a bar where a man had pulled a gun on him. The law provides that in cases where someone is…

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Bill Cosby and 404(b): Uncharged Conduct

The New York Times reports that a Pennsylvania prosecutor retrying him on sexual assault charges wants to introduce allegations of uncharged assaults. At the first trial, ending in a mistrial, the judge excluded such testimony under Rule 404(b). The Times explains: Ordinarily, prosecutors cannot introduce evidence or accusations of prior bad behavior from other cases…

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Manafort and Federal Bail

Paul Manafort, who served as President Trump’s campaign manager from the late fall to the summer, struck a deal yesterday with prosecutors that now lets him off house arrest. Under the terms of that deal, Manafort must post $11.65 million worth of assets in order to be let off house arrest. Under the proposal the…

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