July, 2020

Seventh Circuit: District Court Erred When
It Declined to Hold a Hearing on
Petitioner’s Claim That His Attorneys Were
Ineffective During Plea Negotiations

After petitioner was indicted on fraud charges, his federal defender advised him to accept a plea deal for guidelines of 51 to 63 months. His family hired him private attorneys who told him, without reviewing the file, that he was not guilty of any crime and should reject the government’s offer. Just before trial, the attorneys told him he would lose at trial and should throw himself on the mercy of the court, and he received a 92-month prison sentence. After the district court denied petitioner’s motion for relief arguing that his private attorneys were constitutionally ineffective for advising him to reject the favorable plea offer, the government conceded the deficient-performance element of the Sixth Amendment claim and that the facts set forth in his motion, if proven, could establish prejudice. The court held that the district court abused its discretion by declining to hold an evidentiary hearing and remanded for a hearing on whether petitioner was prejudiced and for petitioner to establishes a reasonable probability that he would have accepted the renewed plea offer but for the incompetent advice of his attorneys and a reasonable probability that he would have received a sentence lower than 92 months. Day v. United States, ___ F.3d ___ (CA 7, 06-24-2020, WL 3445304).

Second Circuit: Emailed Photo
Did Not Justify Investigatory Stop and
Attenuation Doctrine Did Not Apply Where
Officers Engaged in
Purposeful and Flagrant Conduct

Defendant entered a conditional plea after his motion to suppress was denied. The Second Circuit reversed holding that officers did not have reasonable suspicion to conduct an investigatory stop of defendant where the stop was based on an emailed picture. The characteristics of the suspect identified – black male, medium-to-dark skin tone, glasses, facial hair, and long hair – was a description that fits too many people to constitute sufficient articulable facts on which to justify a forcible stop. Although defendant was found walking within several city blocks of the crime scene, such proximity was innocuous given the unremarkable nature of the area in question. The email also failed to indicate that the individual depicted in the attached photograph had committed a crime. The court also held that the attenuation doctrine did not apply as any suspicion, reasonable or otherwise, would have dissipated when the officers approached defendant and could see up close that he did not resemble the photographed suspect; the subsequent search for outstanding warrants was thus purposeful and flagrant conduct. United States v. Walker, ___ F.3d ___ (CA 2, 07-14-2020, WL 3966958).