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Brown Law Blog

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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Maryland Federal Criminal Defense In United States v. Gomez, (12-4089), the defendant, a citizen of El Salvador, was deported from the United States after pleading guilty to state child abuse charges. After reentering the U.S. without permission, the defendant was charged with illegal entry, and pleaded guilty in federal court. At sentencing, the government sought to use the defendant’s prior child abuse conviction to enhance her sentence. Under the Sentencing Guidelines, defendants who are convicted of

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Maryland Criminal Defense — Drugs The Firm scored a nice victory in Baltimore City Circuit Court today. Our client was charged with possession with intent to distribute CDS. He was facing a long sentence. We challenged the stop of his car, arguing that it was illegal, and attempted to suppress all of the evidence obtained as a result of the stop. The argument was somewhat technical. The police officer claimed that he pulled the car

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Maryland Federal Defense In United States v. Sowards (No. 10-4133), the defendant was stopped for speeding after a police officer visually estimated that the defendant’s vehicle was traveling 75 mph in a 70-mph zone. The officer’s assessment was uncorroborated by other evidence, such as radar equipment or pacing methods. During the traffic stop, a K-9 sniff of the outside of the defendant’s vehicle signaled the possible presence of drugs. A subsequent search revealed approximately 10

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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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