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Brown Law Blog

The Court of Appeals has just made an important Post-Conviction ruling, in Savoy v. State. The Court granted a new trial on the grounds that the trial court judge had given an erroneous “reasonable doubt” jury instruction. Despite some procedural idiosyncracies, the case is a reminder of just how potent the reasonable doubt issue can be in cases in which the judge gave a flawed instruction. In Savoy, the trial court gave the following instruction: “After the

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It has been more than five years since the Supreme Court, in United States v. Booker, held that the Federal Sentencing Guidelines are merely advisory. Judges have been gradually taking that to heart. In the recent sentencing of one of my clients in Baltimore, a Federal Judge ruled that, despite the clear language of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, she would not sentence my client as a career offender. The Judge held that such a designation,

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A recent Supreme Court opinion, Fowler v. United States, issues of a firm rebuke of the Fourth Circuit’s position on the Federal Witness Tampering statute, 18 U.S.C. § 1512(a)(1)(C). The Fourth Circuit had been allowing the Government to successfully charge federal witness tampering even in cases in which there was no apparent connection to a “federal offense.” Now, according to SCOTUS, the statute must be interpreted as… well, as it is actually written. That is, “the

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