Brown Law Blog

ACLU Files Amicus in Firm’s Stingray Case

The ACLU has filed a amicus brief in a case being handled by the Law Office of C. Justin Brown. The case, United States v. Harrison, presents a cutting-edge legal issue: whether Baltimore City Police violated the defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights when it used a Stingray device to track his phone. (Click HERE to read…

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“Serial” Goes Viral

The most popular podcast ever (at least so we think) is about a client currently represented by the Firm. The Firm represents Adnan Syed, who was convicted in 2000 of the murder of Hae Min Lee. Our representation extends to his post-conviction petition, which was denied, and the appeal of that denial, which is currently…

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Extraordinary Win in Resentencing

The Firm recently won an extraordinary victory in a Motion for Modification in Prince George’s County. Our client was one of the youngest individuals ever convicted of murder in the State of Maryland — he was only 14 years old. When he was sentenced, almost 15 years ago, the Judge imposed a term of “life suspend…

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Recent Press Coverage in Forfeiture Case

We have received extensive media coverage for our efforts to recover $122k for one of our clients in a federal civil forfeiture case. Here are links to some of the recent articles: Baltimore City Paper, “Frisky Business Above the Law, “Did an AUSA Knowingly Produce a Forged Document Just to Get a Forfeiture Judgment?” Baltimore…

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Drug Reduction to be Retroactive

In an extraordinary decision with sweeping consequences to federal drug sentencing, the United States Sentencing Commission has voted unanimously to make the two-point drug reduction for federal prisoners fully retroactive. According to the Commission, the amendment will have an instruction that prohibits any person from getting released until Nov 1, 2015. It is estimated that…

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What Our Clients Say:

“We owe C. Justin Brown such a debt of gratitude and there is nothing I can write in this review that will do justice to how my family and I feel about him and the job he did in representing my brother in a recent criminal defense case. Last year, my brother was arrested for…

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Whiteside: New Relief for Career Offenders

A recent Fourth Circuit opinion gives some needed relief for a limited class of federal inmates. Whiteside v. United States opens the door for convicted defendants to bring post-conviction claims, under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, based on their erroneous classification as career offenders. This is likely to have the most impact on individuals who were…

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How we won it: Investigation

Sometimes as a defense attorney we need to do the police’s job for them. That is exactly what happened in a case in which one of our clients was accused of breaking into a parked car in front of his gym. By many standards this was not a huge case, but for an accountant with…

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Federal Drug Offenders’ Sentence Reduction

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Baltimore (and other offices around the county) has announced a new policy, effective March 13, in which certain drug offenders will receive a 2-level downward departure on the drug quantity chart. This is fantastic news and it aligns with imminent changes to the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines. Statistically, this amounts to…

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Guilt by Association

It is a sad state of affairs when Debo Adegbile cannot be confirmed to head the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. The Senate last week rejected his appointment – after President Obama nominated him. What is sad is the reason why he was not approved, despite his stellar credentials. He was not approved because, when…

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Smarter Sentencing Act Passes Major Hurdle in Congress

A new law that would reduce drug sentences passed a major Senate hurdle this week with bipartisan support. It still has a long way to go before it will become law, but it is off to a good start. The Smarter Sentencing Act, which passed the Senate Judiciary Committee, would take some of the sting…

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Firm Wins $50,000 Jury Verdict; Police Brutality Case

The Law Office of C. Justin Brown won a $50,000 jury verdict in Baltimore City for a 13-year-old boy who alleged that he was beaten by police, falsely arrested and then illegally detained. The Jury found that Baltimore City Police Officer Dale Mattingly, Jr., falsely arrested, falsely imprisoned, and violated the constitutional rights of the…

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Federal Drug Sentence Reduction Possible in Spring

The Federal Sentencing Commission has recommended a change to the Sentencing Guidelines that could shorten drug sentences by an average of 11 months. This proposal is yet another indication that lawmakers and policymakers are starting to realize that federal drug penalties are way too long and  need to be reigned in. The Commission’s recommendation is…

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Why We Fight — Holiday Version

I get asked the question all the time. Why do you represent criminal defendants? Sometimes I ask myself. But this is why. I have sat in prison visiting booths with inmates serving life sentences whom I believed were innocent. I have stood side by side with guilty defendants who were better human beings than the…

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Harsh Federal Sentencing Tactics: Nothing New

A recent report by Human Rights Watch underscores an obvious fact of federal drug prosecutions: the Government uses the threat of sentencing enhancements to all but force criminal defendants to plead guilty. As a result, 97 percent of federal drug cases result in guilty pleas. By statute, criminal defendants receive extreme mandatory enhancements in some…

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Our Discriminatory Bail System

One of the great injustices of the Maryland state bail system is that it discriminates against the poor. People who are charged with crimes are often held on high bails that they cannot possibly afford. This can happen for even relatively minor criminal allegations. The only way they can get out is by paying a…

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Federal Marijuana Ruling in Maryand

The war on marijuana in the U.S. is waning. A recent Gallup poll reveals that more than half of Americans – 58% – agree that now is the time to legalize marijuana. In 2012, Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize recreational use for adults and, this past September, the DOJ declared that…

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2nd Degree Assault Not Violent for ACCA

Second degree assault in Maryland can no longer be counted as a crime of violence under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), according to a Fourth Circuit opinion issued today by a unanimous panel, United States v. Thomas Royal. This ruling has been a long time in the making, but it is good to see that the issue has finally been laid to rest.

The bottom line is that far fewer people will be categorized as Armed Career Criminals, which saves these people from draconian 15-year mandatory sentences. In addition, the ruling is very likely to apply to career offender designations. We still do not know how this will play out for people who have already been sentenced to enhanced sentences based on a second-degree assault conviction. But rest assured we will be litigating this in the very near future. …

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Wins: Another Resentencing after 2255

Another client of the Firm was re-sentenced after a successful 2255 motion. In United States v. Randolph Wells, a federal district judge granted post-conviction relief to our client based on an erroneous calculation of his criminal history. The error was costly — it made Wells a “career offender” and subjected him to a sentence of 188 months.

In Wells’ motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, we argued that an old conviction for battery should not have counted as a predicate offense for purposes of a career offender designation. The judge agreed. After granted the 2255 motion, he called Wells back to court for re-sentencing. This time sentencing went better. Wells received a sentence reduction of 108 months. Congratulations Mr. Wells!…

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Firm Client Wins 7-Year Sentence Reduction

Today was a good day for one of our clients. After we won post-conviction relief for him — via 28 U.S.C. § 2255 — a federal Judge re-sentenced our client today, giving him back seven years of his life. In U.S. v. Gerome Young, the defendant had initially been sentenced as an Armed Career Criminal. This was because it was thought that he had three prior convictions that counted as Armed Career Criminal predicates. It was later discovered, however, that one of the convictions did not actually count. After the 2255 petition was granted, the Court agreed to re-sentence Young. Without an Armed Career Criminal designation, the sentence, by law, had to be significantly shorter.

Congratulations Mr. Young!…

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