Archive | firearms

Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

White House Report: “Forensic Science in Criminal Courts: Ensuring Scientific Validity of Feature Comparison Methods.”

The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology today released a report entitled “Forensic Science in Criminal Courts: Ensuring Scientific Validity of Feature Comparison Methods.”  You can access the report here.  According to a White House press release, “the study aims to help close the gaps for a number of ‘feature-comparison’ methods — specifically, methods for comparing DNA samples, bitemarks, latent fingerprints, firearm marks, footwear, and hair.”  The report contains a number of recommendations directed at the FBI Laboratory, the Attorney General, and the judiciary as well as the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).

In cases with feature comparison evidence that was not gathered and evaluated as recommended in the report, the report may support the exclusion of the evidence or provide a fruitful area of cross examination.  It should also help limit the opinions …


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Categories: DNA, expert witnesses, firearms

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Saturday, September 8th, 2012

The Cartridge Family

United States v. Graham, No. 09-2819-cr (2d Cir. August 15, 2012) (Cabranes, Livingston, Carney, CJJ)

Title 18, U.S.C. § 844(h) makes it a separate offense to use “an explosive” to commit a federal felony. During an attempted extortion of one of his fellow-gang members – a dispute over some robbery proceeds – defendant Graham fired a cartridge from his 9-millimeter semi-automatic into the ground. A jury convicted defendant Graham under this section, amongst other offenses; his 50-year sentence included the ten-year mandatory consecutive sentence that the statute requires.

On appeal, however, the circuit agreed that the single cartridge in his semi-automatic handgun did not constitute an “explosive.” It reversed the conviction on the § 844(h) count and remanded the case for resentencing.

Superficially, it would seem like firing a bullet might well trigger the statute (bad pun, I know). Section 844(j) defines “explosive” for purposes of § 844(h) as, …


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Categories: explosives, firearms, statutory construction, Uncategorized

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Sunday, August 28th, 2011

Have Guns, Will Travel

United States v. Nadirashvili, No. 08-4211-cr (2c Cir. August 23, 2011) (Winter, Pooler, Hall, CJJ)

Six-defendant appellants appealed their convictions in a wide-ranging firearms conspiracy that had both international and domestic components. One part of the activity involved trafficking in “foreign defense articles” – here, grenades, warheads, missiles and launchers, amongst other things – under 22 U.S.C. 2278(b), and the other part involved domestic firearms trafficking under 18 U.S.C. § 922(a)(1)(A). Apart from one sentencing glitch, the circuit affirmed.

The opinion contains two interesting discussions of statutory requirements that the criminal activity involve those who are “in the business” of weapons dealing.

First, two defendants argued that there was insufficient evidence to support their § 922(a)(1)(A) convictions because they were aware of only a single gun transaction, and the evidence did not show that they knew the seller was engaged in the business of trafficking in firearms. The court agreed …

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Categories: firearms, Uncategorized

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Categories: firearms, Uncategorized

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