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B & N BLOG

An interesting issue recently arose in a 2255 hearing in Federal Court. The Petitioner wished to use a “Strickland expert” — that is, another lawyer who would testify as an expert in a particular area of criminal defense. Presumably, this expert would testify that trial counsel — the subject of the 2255 — was ineffective in how he handled the case. The Government challenged the use of the expert on the grounds that the petitioner

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The importance of having legal representation in court cannot be overstated. Today, associate attorney Melissa Kujda was awarded a default judgment against a landlord who tried to sue one of our clients. Every aspect of the landlord’s complaint was frivolous – the landlord was seeking rent that our client already paid, and the total amount of rent claimed was over 10 times that stipulated in the lease. The list goes on. In fact, after rendering

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In a published opinion, the Fourth Circuit found that the lower court was wrong when it counted the defendant’s prior conviction for second degree assault as a “crime of violence.” For some time, Maryland’s second degree assault statute has caused confusion in federal court. The Government inevitably argues that second degree assault must be a crime of violence, even though this is not always the case. The reality, as the Fourth Circuit has made clear,

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The Fourth Circuit has long been among the most conservative, pro-Government, anti-defendant circuits in the country. That may be slowly changing, however, with the appointment of progressive judges like Andre Davis. In a recent opinion, in US v. Massenburg, Judge Davis wrote for a panel that reversed a trial court’s denial of a suppression motion. The Fourth Circuit held that the knowledge of one police officer could not be imputed to another officer when the

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After winning a state court post-conviction, and obtaining a new sentencing, a white collar client of the Law Office of C. Justin Brown was granted additional relief by a Circuit Court judge this week. The Circuit Court Judge reduced the client’s sentence to a new term that should allow the client to get home by Christmas. The Firm raised numerous issues on post-conviction, but ultimately the winning issue was the failure of trial counsel to

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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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