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Brown Law Blog

One of the many difficulties of being incarcerated in the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) is that an inmate can be designated to a facility very far away from home. We have even had clients from Baltimore who were sent to California. Even though a federal judge can request a specific designation at sentencing, the decision of where to place an inmate is entirely up to the BOP.

A faraway designation is especially difficult on families, many of whom cannot afford the trip to visit a family member who is serving time. Considering air fare, rental car, and a hotel, a trip to an out-of-state prison can be expensive, particularly if the destination is in a remote area that is far from a major airport.

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Every couple years, it seems, there is a new effort to implement a law that would allow federal inmates to earn more good-time credit, and thereby shorten their sentences. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Republican from Utah, sponsored the latest effort, which was sent to the Judiciary Committee.

Under current law, a federal inmate receives up to 54 days off his sentence for good-time credit. This means BOP inmates serve about 85 percent of their actual sentences – a rate far higher than most state systems.

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FEDERAL AND STATE GUN OFFENSES BALTIMORE, MARYLAND In Alston v. State, an unusual opinion that was 8 years in the making, the Maryland Court of Appeals (Chief Judge Bell) held, among other things, that a felon in possession of a handgun is not subject to the mandatory 5 years without parole — if the predicate conviction was for a drug offense.  This is a decision that could have a huge impact in this city, where many

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FEDERAL DEFENSE MARYLAND / 2255 This past week the Firm won another 2255 Motion. In US v. Gerome Young, the defendant was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm. At sentencing he was determined to be an armed career criminal, based on three prior convictions for either a serious drug offense or a crime of violence. As such, he was sentenced to a mandatory 15-year sentence. Young, represented by C. Justin Brown,

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FEDERAL CRIMINAL DEFENSE MARYLAND It is still early in the budget crisis known as “sequestration.” But, it is expected that cuts to federal spending will directly affect the criminal justice system, particularly in federal district court. The word is, the U.S. Attorney’s Office will have a smaller budget, which means they will prosecute fewer cases. It is not yet known how this will play out. Is there a particular type of crime that they will

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Coram Nobis — Baltimore City Federal Criminal Defense Baltimore, Maryland The firm won a contested coram nobis proceeding in Baltimore City last week. Our client was facing federal prosecution as an Armed Career Criminal. This was because he had three previous convictions for either drug felonies, violent felonies, or a combination of both. As an Armed Career Criminal, the client faced a MANDATORY 15-year sentence. The firm obtained the records for his old convictions that

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FEDERAL GUN LAW In the wake of the school shootings in Connecticut, much has been made about gun control and the NRA’s obstinate role in the proliferation of firearms. But in recent weeks another concerning role of the NRA has come into focus. As Linda Greenhouse points out in the Times, the NRA has begun to exert a significant — if not enormously disproportionate — influence over the appointment of federal judges. (see her article here).

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Federal Criminal Defense Baltimore, Maryland For years Maryland’s second degree assault statute has been a thorn in the side of criminal defendants. Although second degree assault may result from a non-violent incident, it is almost always used by federal prosecutors as a “crime of violence” to enhance federal sentences – often to extreme results. In the context of the Armed Career Criminal Act, a second degree assault on one’s record – even if a decade

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Federal Criminal Defense Baltimore, Maryland Judge Deborah Chasanow, a United States District Judge in the District of Maryland, has held that that a conviction under Maryland’s second-degree assault statute does not count as a crime of violence for purposes of a sentencing enhancement. In the case, United States v. Barrett Allen West, Judge Chasanow built upon the foundation laid by the Fourth Circuit in United States v. Gomez, which held that a similar statute could not be

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FEDERAL CRIMINAL DEFENSE BALTIMORE, MARYLAND In United States v. Akinsade (No. 09-7554), the Fourth Circuit took a rare step and granted coram nobis relief to a Nigerian immigrant convicted in federal court. Akinsade, who came to the U.S. legally as a child, worked as bank teller at Chevy Chase bank when he was a teenager. When he was 19, Akinsade cashed several fraudulent checks for friends, and pocketed some of the proceeds. Eventually, he reported the situation

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