Archive | government misconduct

Monday, June 24th, 2019

The Supreme Court reverses death sentence for State inmate because of violations of Batson v. Kentucky (proscribing racially based exercises of peremptory challenges in jury selection): Flowers v. Mississippi, No. 17-9572, __S.Ct. __, 2019 WL 2552489 (June 21, 2019).

In Flowers v. Mississippi, No. 17-9572, __U.S.__ , 2019 WL 2552489  (June 21, 2019), the Court reversed a death sentence because of a violation of Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986), which prohibits the racially discriminatory use of peremptory challenges.

Curtis Flowers was tried in six separate trials, by the “same lead prosecutor” for an offense that occurred in 1996. The first trial was reversed for prosecutorial misconduct; the second and third trials involved judicial findings of Batson violations;  and after the fourth and fifth trials resulted in hung juries, in the sixth trial, the prosecutor struck five of the six black prospective jurors, and Flowers was convicted. Op. at 1-2.  In a 7-2 decision, authored by Justice Kavanagh, the Court reversed the decision of the Mississippi Supreme Court affirming the conviction.

The Court cited four critical facts that taken together required reversal. “First, in …

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Categories: Batson, government misconduct, jury selection

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Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

Circuit Affirms Convictions of Madoff Co-Conspirators

The Circuit issued no published criminal decisions today. But it did issue three summary orders, including a 30-page decision (does that still qualify as a “summary” order?) affirming the fraud-related convictions of five former employees of Bernie Madoff’s investment company.

  1. United States v. Bonventre, No. 14-4714-cr(L) (2d Cir. Apr. 20, 2016) (Walker, Raggi, and Droney)

Five former employee of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities were convicted after trial of multiple counts of conspiratorial and substantive securities fraud, bank fraud, and related charges for their participation in a massive scheme to defraud thousands of investors of tens of billions of dollars. On appeal, the defendants challenged various trial court rulings, the sufficiency of the evidence, the government’s trial conduct, and the judgments of forfeiture. The Court rejected all of their claims.

Bill of Particulars

First, the Court held that the district court did not err by denying a request for …

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Categories: evidence, forfeiture, government misconduct, joinder, sufficiency

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Saturday, August 30th, 2008

Gimme Shelter

United States v. Stein, no. 07-3042-cr (2d Cir. August 28, 2008) (Jacobs, Feinberg, Hall, CJJ)

This case arose from a 2004 investigation into KPMG’s suspected creation and sale of illegal tax shelters. Although KPMG’s counsel recommended a “cooperative approach” in its dealings with the government, the firm still, initially, promised to pay the attorneys’ fees of any current or former member of the firm who was under investigation.

In subsequent meetings with Southern District prosecutors, however, the government started putting pressure on KPMG to not pay attorneys’ fees. It cited the “Thompson Memorandum,” a directive to federal prosecutors intended to give guidance on when to prosecute business organizations, which instructs prosecutors to consider whether the firm was protecting culpable employees through, inter alia, “the advancing of attorneys fees.” Bowing to this pressure, KPMG’s counsel told the government that it would not pay the fees of employees who failed to “cooperate” …

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Categories: government misconduct, Sixth Amendment, Uncategorized

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Sunday, June 22nd, 2008

Affirm Stance

United States v. Walker, 06-0594-cr (2d Cir. June 19, 2008) (Jacobs, Leval, Cabranes, CJJ)

The evidence at Walker’s drug trial included: (1) recordings of two drug-related meetings with a cooperating co-defendant in which they discussed both past and future drug activity and in which the cooperator gave Walker money to pay for a previous shipment; (2) Walker’s two detailed confessions about his drug dealing activities; and (3) the testimony of four of his associates.

In addition, a DEA agent testified, and it was this testimony that was the subject of the appeal. Here, the circuit agreed that the government elicited “numerous” instances of “improper testimony” from the agent. This included: (1) highly prejudicial statements about the DEA’s investigation of Walker; (2) information the agent developed that “corroborated” Walker’s guilt, such as hearsay reports from other agents that drug customers had implicated Walker; (3) lengthy testimony that cooperating witnesses and other …

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Categories: government misconduct, plain error, Uncategorized

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