Federal Criminal Law

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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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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Cooperating with the Feds

Former Trump campaign surrogate, advisor and National Security Advisor (for less than a month) Michael Flynn pled guilty today to 18 U.S.C. Sec. 1001, false statements to a federal agent, a felony. The agreement, worked out between his lawyers and the Government, requires him to cooperate with investigators working for Robert Mueller, the special counsel…

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Sheriff Joe Arpaio found guilty of Criminal Contempt

Federal District Judge Susan Bolton found Joe Arpaio, who served as sheriff of Maricopa County (Phoenix, Tempe, Scottsdale, Glendale, Chandler), Arizona for nearly a quarter century.  Arpaio had been a Drug Enforcement Agent before being elected the sheriff, and had marketed himself as the “toughest sheriff” in America. Arpaio operated as a thug in sheriff’s…

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Can Donald Trump Pardon Himself?

Can the President Pardon Himself?

The short answer is, maybe. Article II, Clause 1: [H]e shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment. The only explicit limitation on the pardon power is that the president may not pardon himself or others from impeachment. In any case, impeachment is not…

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Sheldon silver

A New Federal Trial for Shelly Silver

Once upon a time Sheldon Silver, 73, was the most powerful man in New York, more powerful in some ways than the Governor.  A Democratic assemblyman from Manhattan’s Lower East Side, Shelly, as he was known to friends and enemies alike, was elected Speaker of the New York State Assembly in 1994. New York’s state…

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Jeff Sessions: A Sad Example of Public Integrity

No Attorney General is perfect. Conservatives pointed out that Eric Holder, President Obama’s attorney general, failed to comply with court orders requiring him to release information about the ATF’s “Fast and Furious” Operation. Democrats complained that that President George W. Bush’s attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, improperly ousted a number of United States Attorneys based on…

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