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Early in the morning of November 12, 2009, police officers from the Albuquerque, New Mexico, Police Department were dispatched to an apartment complex to investigate a 911 domestic violence call. Upon their arrival, they saw Walter Deiter and his wife, D’Leah Harris, in the middle of the street. When Deiter and Harris saw the officers, they separated, each walking in the opposite direction. Deiter proceeded toward the apartment complex; Officer Patricia Whelan followed him. Deiter went behind a staircase; Whelan temporarily lost sight of him. Deiter emerged a few minutes later on the second-story open breezeway. Whelan told Deiter to come down and talk to her. But before doing so, he made a “squatting, bending motion” which led Whelan to believe he had “dropped” something illegal. She could not see what was dropped because a three- to four-foot tall wall obstructed her view, but once Deiter came down the stairs, Whelan asked Officer Sammy Marquez to determine what had been dropped. As Marquez proceeded up the steps to the second-story breezeway, Deiter took off running. Deiter was eventually brought down with a taser; once he was secured, officers found a holster containing a loaded .22 caliber revolver. Forensic testing revealed Deiter’s DNA on both the holster and firearm. The firearm also contained a small amount of DNA from an unidentified source. A jury convicted Deiter of being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition. Deiter filed a 28 U.S.C. 2255 motion, claiming a prior bank robbery conviction could not be deemed a “violent felony” supporting the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA) enhancement to the sentence he ultimately received. He also argued trial counsel was ineffective for (1) failing to challenge his ACCA sentence and (2) reading a transcript of Whelan’s belt tape recorder to the jury which contained an incriminating statement from a witness. After review of the briefs submitted for review, the Tenth Circuit found no reversible error to Deiter's sentence, nor ineffective assistance of counsel. View "United States v. Deiter" on Justia Law

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This appeal involved the extent of a duty to defend under a “professional services” policy of liability insurance issued to a law firm. The issue arose when the law firm was confronted with allegations of overbilling. The insurer, Evanston Insurance Company, defended the law firm, The Law Office of Michael P. Medved, P.C., under a reservation of rights but ultimately concluded that the allegations of overbilling fell outside the law firm’s coverage for professional services. The law firm disagreed with this conclusion; the district court agreed with the insurer. The Tenth Circuit concurred with the district court and affirmed summary justment in favor of Evanston on all claims and counterclaims. View "Evanston Insurance v. Law Office Michael P. Medved" on Justia Law

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In January 2017 a grand jury in the United States District Court for the District of Wyoming returned a 21-count indictment against Defendant Shakeel Kahn (who was a physician) and others charging distribution of controlled substances and money laundering. The indictment included a criminal forfeiture count under 21 U.S.C. 853, which listed a number of his assets that the grand jury identified as fruits of the alleged crimes. Most of those assets had been seized by the government before filing the indictment. Two weeks after the indictment, Kahn moved for a hearing to challenge the seizure of $1,140,699.95 in currency and bank accounts, asserting he needed this money to retain private counsel of his choice, noting that his only unseized assets were a $175,000 home encumbered by an $80,000 lien and a business that brought in less than $3,000 a month after taxes. He estimated that he would need at least $200,000 to pay counsel and that his total defense costs would be at least $450,000. In April the district court denied the motion. Defendant petitioned the Tenth Circuit for a district-court hearing to challenge the seizure of those assets. The district court denied a hearing because he has some unseized assets with which to pay an attorney. The Tenth Circuit reversed and remanded because the proper test was whether he had sufficient unseized assets to pay for the reasonable cost of obtaining counsel of his choice. View "United States v. Kahn" on Justia Law

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This is the second appeal arising from crimes committed by two corrections officers, Raymond Barnes and Christopher Brown, while employed at the Muskogee County Jail. Barnes and Brown both held administrative roles at the jail: Barnes served as the Jail Superintendent and Brown worked alongside him as the Assistant Jail Superintendent. Both defendants physically abused prisoners in a variety of ways, engaged in excessive force against inmates, and intimidated other jail employees to conceal their illicit activities. Authorities charged Barnes and Brown with three counts of assaulting or conspiring to assault prisoners at the jail. In 2014, a jury convicted both of various charges. The jury convicted Barnes of one count of conspiracy to violate constitutional rights and two counts of deprivation of rights under color of law. The jury found Brown, on the other hand, guilty of one count of conspiracy to violate constitutional rights, one count of deprivation of rights under color of law, and one count of making a false statement to a federal agent. The district court sentenced Barnes to twelve months’ imprisonment followed by twenty-four months of supervised release. Brown received a sentence of six months’ imprisonment followed by thirty-six months of supervised release. Both appealed their sentences. The government argued the sentences the district court imposed after the Tenth Circuit remanded for resentencing were substantively unreasonable. Because the Tenth Circuit found the district court did not abuse its discretion in granting a downward variance from the United States Sentencing Guidelines, it affirmed. View "United States v. Barnes" on Justia Law

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The district court dismissed Marc Schenkel's claims against Xyngular Corporation and various third parties as a sanction for abuse of what he claims was pre-litigation discovery. The Tenth Circuit had not previously decided whether pre-litigation conduct that did not give rise to the substantive claims in a case was sanctionable by dismissal of a party’s claims. After review of Schenkel's arguments on appeal, the Tenth Circuit concluded termination sanctions were permissible when pre-litigation conduct was aimed at manipulating the judicial process and was unrelated to the conduct that gave rise to the substantive claims in a case. Because the district court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that these conditions were met in the present case, its judgment was affirmed. View "Xyngular v. Schenkel" on Justia Law

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In 2011, Defendant Cory Devon Washington pleaded guilty in the Western District of Oklahoma to two firearm-related offenses. The district court sentenced him to fifteen years’ imprisonment under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA). The United States Supreme Court ruled in Johnson v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 2551 (2015), invalidated the ACCA’s residual clause, Defendant filed a motion to vacate his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 2255, his second such motion. The district court dismissed the motion because Defendant did not establish the sentencing court relied on the residual clause for any of his ACCA predicate offenses. The Tenth Circuit concurred with the district court's decision and affirmed the dismissal. View "United States v. Washington" on Justia Law

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Correct Care Solutions, LLC (CCS) terminated Alena Fassbender’s employment for violating CCS policy. Fassbender, who was pregnant at the time of her termination, argued she was terminated because CCS had one too many pregnant workers in Fassbender’s unit, which posed a problem for her supervisor. After review of the district court record, the Tenth Circuit concluded a reasonable jury could believe Fassbender’s version of events. Accordingly, the Court reversed the portion of the district court’s order granting CCS summary judgment on Fassbender’s pregnancy discrimination claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. secs. 2000e–2000e-17. However, the Court affirmed in part, finding no reasonable jury could believe Fassbender’s alternative claim that CCS terminated her in retaliation for reporting sexual harassment. View "Fassbender v. Correct Care Solutions" on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was whether police had a reasonable suspicion to believe defendant Ajohntae Hammond was armed and dangerous to justify frisking him for weapons following a traffic stop. The pat-down revealed a gun in Hammond’s pocket; Hammond was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm. Based on information the officers gleaned from the department’s Police Information Management System (“PIMS”) prior to the pat-down that connected Hammond and the car to gang activity and weapons possession, along with the officers’ observation that Hammond was wearing gang colors, the Tenth Circuit held the officers possessed reasonable suspicion to justify the pat-down search, and affirmed the district court denying his motion to suppress the firearm. View "United States v. Hammond" on Justia Law

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M.A.K. Investment Group, LLC owned several parcels of property in Glendale, Colorado. The City adopted a resolution declaring several of M.A.K.’s parcels “blighted” under state law. Glendale never notified M.A.K. of its resolution or the legal consequences flowing from it. The blight resolution began a seven-year window in which the City could begin condemnation proceedings against M.A.K.’s property. It also started the clock on a thirty-day window in which M.A.K. had a right to seek judicial review of the blight resolution under state law. Receiving no notice, M.A.K. did not timely seek review. M.A.K. argued Colorado’s Urban Renewal statute, both on its face and as-applied to M.A.K., violated due process because it did not require municipalities to notify property owners about a blight determination, or the thirty days owners had to seek review. The Tenth Circuit concluded the statute was unconstitutional as applied to M.A.K. because M.A.K. did not receive notice that Glendale found its property blighted. Because of this, the Court did not decide whether the statute was unconstitutional on its face. As for M.A.K.’s second argument, the Court held due process did not require Glendale to inform M.A.K. about the thirty-day review window. View "M.A.K. Investment Group v. City of Glendale" on Justia Law

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M.A.K. Investment Group, LLC owned several parcels of property in Glendale, Colorado. The City adopted a resolution declaring several of M.A.K.’s parcels “blighted” under state law. Glendale never notified M.A.K. of its resolution or the legal consequences flowing from it. The blight resolution began a seven-year window in which the City could begin condemnation proceedings against M.A.K.’s property. It also started the clock on a thirty-day window in which M.A.K. had a right to seek judicial review of the blight resolution under state law. Receiving no notice, M.A.K. did not timely seek review. M.A.K. argued Colorado’s Urban Renewal statute, both on its face and as-applied to M.A.K., violated due process because it did not require municipalities to notify property owners about a blight determination, or the thirty days owners had to seek review. The Tenth Circuit concluded the statute was unconstitutional as applied to M.A.K. because M.A.K. did not receive notice that Glendale found its property blighted. Because of this, the Court did not decide whether the statute was unconstitutional on its face. As for M.A.K.’s second argument, the Court held due process did not require Glendale to inform M.A.K. about the thirty-day review window. View "M.A.K. Investment Group v. City of Glendale" on Justia Law