Federal Criminal Law

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)…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More
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…

Read More
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…

Read More

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…

Read More

The Insanity of the Federal Criminal Justice System

Theory: The problem with federal plea agreements is that they are entirely unsupervised by courts in any meaningful way, but also not binding on the court itself in most cases, other than to the extent that the plea agreement includes a dismissal of other charged conduct. This unchecked plea power is the result of the…

Read More

Eleventy Million Years Plus Thirty Seven

A Wayne County Superior Court Judge faces eleventy million years in jail! Well, not really, but to hear WRAL reporter Cullen Browder talk, you’d think Arnold Jones was going away for good. To wit: Jones faces a maximum of 37 years in federal prison if convicted of all charges, prosecutors said, but a sentence that…

Read More

ACCA’s Residual Clause Violates Due Process

While most of the country was (understandably) in the thrall of the Supreme Court holding that gays must be afforded the constitutional right to marry last week, those of us who practice federal criminal law were pondering the implications of Johnson v. United States. Johnson asked the Court to consider the constitutionality of the Armed…

Read More