The Defender Services Office Training Division furthers the right to effective assistance of counsel by providing training and other resources to attorneys appointed under the Criminal Justice Act.

    December 01, 2016
    Changes to Rule 41 Take Effect, Expanding Government Hacking Authority

    Amended Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure took effect today.  The changes authorize magistrate judges to issue warrants to remotely access and search "electronic storage media" outside of their judicial districts, where "technological means" are obscuring the location of the media.  For more on the impacts of the new rule, see this Electronic Frontier Foundation Press Release.

    November 30, 2016
    Unanimous Supreme Court Rejects Double Jeopardy Claim

    Yesterday, the Supreme Court unanimously decided Bravo-Hernandez v. United States (No. 15-537) (J. Thomas, concurring), holding that the Double Jeopardy Clause does not bar the government from retrying defendants after a "jury has returned irreconcilably inconsistent verdicts of conviction and acquittal and the convictions are later vacated for legal error unrelated to the inconsistency."  For more on the opinion see this SCOTUSblog post.

    November 03, 2016
    New Amendments to the Sentencing Guidelines Are Now in Effect

    The new amendments to the sentencing guidelines took effect on November 1, 2016.  Among the most significant amendments are major changes to the illegal reentry guideline, as well as changes to the distribution enhancements in child pornography cases.  For more on all of the amendments see the National Sentencing Resource Counsel Project's Summary of 2016 Amendments to the Sentencing Guidelines.  Review the actual text in the Reader-Friendly Version of the Amendments.

    November 02, 2016
    Supreme Court Grants Cert to Address Sentencing Variances in Counts Accompanying 924(c) Convictions; What Constitutes an "Aggravated Felony" of "Sexual Abuse of a Minor" in INA Removal Cases

    On Friday, October 28, 2016 the Supreme Court granted cert in two case of interest to federal criminal defense practitioners:

    Dean v. United States (No. 15-9260)
    Issue: Whether the Supreme Court's decision in Pepper v. United States overruled United States v. Hatcher and related opinions from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit to the extent that those opinions limit the district court's discretion to consider the mandatory consecutive sentence under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) in determining the appropriate sentence for the felony serving as the basis for the Section 924(c) conviction.

    Esquivel-Quintana v. Lynch (No. 16-54)
    Issue: Whether a conviction under one of the seven state statutes criminalizing consensual sexual intercourse between a 21-year-old and someone almost 18 constitutes an “aggravated felony” of “sexual abuse of a minor” under 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(43)(A) of the Immigration and Nationality Act – and therefore constitutes grounds for mandatory removal.

    For more on these cases and all criminal cases granted review and decided during the October 2015-16 Terms see Paul M. Rashkind's United States Supreme Court Review-Preview-Overview.

    September 29, 2016
    Supreme Court to Determine Whether the Residual Clause in 18 U.S.C. § Is Void for Vagueness

    Today, the Supreme Court granted cert in Lynch v. Dimaya (No. 15-1498), to decide whether  the residual clause of 18  U.S.C.  § 16 (b),  as  incorporated  into  the Immigration  and  Nationality  Act’s  provisions  governing  an alien’s removal  from the United States, is unconstitutionally vague.  Subsection (b)  defines  “crime  of  violence”  to include  “any . . . offense  that  is  a  felony and that, by its nature, involves a substantial risk that physical  force  against  the  person  or  property  of  another  may  be  used  in  the  course  of  committing  the offense."  The Sixth, Seventh, Ninth and Tenth Circuits have held that 16(b) is unconstitutional under Johnson. The Fifth has held otherwise.

    The Court also granted cert in Nelson v. Colorado (No. 15-1256) on the following issue: Whether Colorado’s requirement that defendants must prove their innocence by clear and convincing evidence to get their money back, after reversal of conviction of a crime entailing various monetary penalties, is consistent with due process.


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