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Law digest – 8/27/12

Constitutional Law, Freedom of speech: Statutory ban on falsely assuming or pretending to be a law enforcement officer was not unconstitutionally overbroad and did not violate defendant’s First Amendment right to freedom of speech because defendant failed to show realistic danger that the statute would significantly compromise anyone’s First Amendment rights, and statute served state’s critical interest in public safety. U.S. v. Chappell, No. 10-4746. RecordFax No. 12-0814-60, 36 pages.

Constitutional Law, Scope of Second Amendment rights: Defendant was properly barred from raising a constitutional challenge to a federal statute that prohibits a felon from possessing a firearm, because, as result of his criminal history, defendant was outside scope of Second Amendment protections for “law-abiding responsible citizens to use arms in defense of hearth and home.” U.S. v. Smoot, No. 11-4442. RecordFax No. 12-0813-60, 18 pages.

Criminal Procedure, Anonymous jury: As matter of first impression, district court did not abuse its discretion in ordering an anonymous jury, in which jurors’ biographical information was withheld from defendants and their counsel, because the court’s finding that anonymity was necessary to protect venire members and jurors was amply supported by record and district court took reasonable measures to safeguard defendants’ rights in light of this protective measure. U.S. v. Dinkins, No. 09-4668. RecordFax No. 12-0814-61, 50 pages.

Criminal Procedure, Habeas corpus: Habeas corpus petitioner failed to satisfy the “in custody” requirement of the federal habeas statute, because he had fully served his sentence for rape and been released from prison; the state sex-offender registration requirements which he argued substantially restrained his liberty were collateral consequences of conviction and not as part of his sentence. Wilson v. Flaherty, No. 11-6919. RecordFax No. 12-0815-60, 30 pages.

Criminal Procedure, Jurisdiction: The U.S. District Court had jurisdiction to decide a criminal case in which a South African citizen was accused of assaulting of British citizen on a NATO-operated military base in Afghanistan at which both were employed by private defense contractors; the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act specifically contemplated application to conduct occurring outside the U.S., and defendant’s status as employee of defense contractor brought his actions at the military base within criminal misconduct that Act was enacted to govern. U.S. v. Brehm, No. 11-4755. RecordFax No. 12-0810-60, 12 pages.

Criminal Procedure, Search & seizure: Traffic stop of defendant for speeding was reasonable, where stop was based on officers’ visual estimates of defendant’s speed, officers were trained in estimating vehicle speed, and officers’ testimony regarding defendant’s rate of speed was credible, and district court therefore properly denied defendant’s motion to suppress evidence obtained during officers’ search of defendant’s vehicle subsequent to stop. U.S. v. Mubdi, No. 10-5008. RecordFax No. 12-0810-, 25 pages.

Criminal Procedure, Sentencing: Because the child abuse statute under which defendant pleaded guilty did not contain a divisible use-of-force element, the U.S. District Court erred in using a modified categorical approach and examining defendant’s particular acts to determine that defendant’s conviction constituted “crime of violence” for purposes of sentencing enhancement statute. U.S. v. Gomez, No. 12-4089. RecordFax No. 12-0810-61, 37 pages.

Torts, Qualified immunity: In plaintiff’s claim against police officer for malicious prosecution and Fourth Amendment violations, U.S. District Court properly granted summary judgment in favor of police officer on basis of qualified immunity because, although underlying criminal proceedings were terminated in plaintiff’s favor, prosecution was supported by probable cause as conclusively established by three indictments issued against plaintiff which were fair upon their face and returned by a properly constituted grand jury. Durham v. Horner, No. 11-1022. RecordFax No. 12-0808-60, 18 pages.