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US Sentencing Commission Makes Sentence Reduction in Drug Cases Retroactive -

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The US Sentencing Commission voted unanimously today to apply the recent reduction to U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1, the sentencing guideline applicable to federal drug offenses, retroactively.  Unless Congress disapproves the amendment before November 1, 2014, it will become effective on that date.  However, there are limitations: no inmate can be released until a judge reviews the inmate's case to determine whether a reduced sentence will pose a threat to public safety and is "otherwise appropriate;" and no inmate will be released before November 1, 2015.  The Sentencing Commission intends for the delayed release date to afford the district courts sufficient time to reveiw the cases carefully, and to afford prison and probation officials sufficient time to employ effective re-entry and supervision plans.  See the Sentencing Commission's press release here: The US Sentencing Commission Unanimously Votes to Allow Delayed Retroactive Reduction in Drug Trafficking Sentences    

 

US Supreme Court Holds Cell Phones Not Subject to Warrantless Search Pursuant to Arrest - June 25, 2014

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The US Supreme Court held today in Riley v. United States that police officers may not search a person's cell phone without a warrant simply because the person is subject to lawful arrest.  The Court has held that the police may conduct a warrantless search of the area within an arrestee's immediate control for the officers' safety and to prevent the destruction of evidence (Chimel v. California), including, in one case, the contents of a cigarette pack found on the arrestee's person (United States v. Robinson).  However, the court narrowed those holdings in Arizona v. Gant by limiting the police's authority to conduct a warrantless search only to the area of a vehicle in which it is reasonable to believe that evidence of the crime of arrest reasonably may be found, and the area within an arrestee's immediate control only if the arrestee is unsecured.  The Court now has recognized that the data contained in a cell phone poses no theat to officer safety, and thta the destruction of evidence resulting from a remote wiping of the cell phone's data is not a prevalent concern, or at least one that cannot be countered with technology currenlty at police officers' disposal.  Read the Court's opinion here: Riley v. California, No. 13-132, Decided June 25, 2014

 

Former Chief of the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department Charged with Commercial Gambling and Extortion but Released on Unsecured Bond - June 7, 2014

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I represent Willie Clinton Lovett, the former chief of the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department in Savannah, Georgia, who was indicted by a federal grand jury in the US District Court for the Southern District of Georgia on mulitple counts of commerical gambling, conspiracy to obstruct the enforcement of state criminal laws, and extortion.  The grand jury returned the indictment on Wednesday, June 4, 2014, and on June 5, 2014, my co-counsel W. Dow Bonds, Esq. and I surrendered Chief Lovett to the FBI and US Marshals Service, avoiding an unnecesary and embarrasing arrest, and successfully argued for his release on a unsecured bond – over the goverment's objection – that afternoon.  Read the Savannah Morning News's article here: "Former Savannah-Chatham Police Chief Willie Lovett Indicted on Federal Gambling, Extortion Charges"  

 

Fugitive Banker Aubrey Lee Price Reaches Plea Agreement with Government - June 5, 2014

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I represent Aubrey Lee Price, also known as the "Fugitive Banker," who entered a plea of guilty today in the US District Court for the Southern District of Georgia on one count of bank fraud from that district and one count each of wire fraud and securities fraud from the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York.  The primary benefits of the plea agreement are that all sentences on all counts must run concurrently, and a third indictment that is pending in the US District Court for the Southern Disrict of Florida charging Mr. Price with making or causing a false distress signal to the US Coast Guard will be dismissed in its entirety.  Read J. Scott Trubey's Atlanta Journal-Constitution article here: "Banker Who Faked Death Pleads Guilty to Fraud"

 

Department of Justice Expanding Clemency Criteria - April 23, 2014

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US Attorney General Eric Holder announced today that the US Department of Justice ("DOJ") is expanding the criteria that it will use to recommend pardons and commutations of sentences to President Obama, and it will assign additional attorneys to review clemency petitions.  The expanded criteria open non-violent, non-gang related, low-level drug offenders who have served ten years in prison, or who would have received more lenient sentences today, to meaningful clemency review.  See the DOJ press release here: Justice Department Expands Executive Clemency Criteria and Prepare for Increase in Eligible Petitions

 
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