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Decisions in Immigration, Criminal and Attorney Fees Matters

By FindLaw Staff | Last updated on

US v. Rodgers, 09-3364, concerned a challenge to the district court's imposition of a 78-month sentence in a conviction of defendant for possession of child pornography.  In affirming the sentence, the court held that, now that the guidelines are advisory, a district court may vary from the guidelines when it concludes that they do not reflect "empirical data and national experience."  The court rejected defendant's claim that the sentencing enhancement for sadistic or masochistic conduct or other depictions of violence impermissibly double counts conduct already taken into account by the base offense level for possessing child pornography, as the application of section 2G2.2(b)(4) properly took into account aggravating circumstances, not the base offense conduct.  Lastly, having waived a challenge to the factual basis of the PSR, the court held that the defendant cannot now seek to invalidate his sentence for lack of evidentiary support.

US v. Munoz, 09-1118, involved sentencing issues in convictions of two defendants for participating in large document forgery operation known as the Leija Sanchez Organization, which provided false green cards, driver licenses, and social security numbers to illegal immigrants.  In affirming the district court's imposition of above-guidelines sentences for both defendants, the court rejected the defendants' challenges to the substantive reasonableness of the sentences and other claims.  However, district court's order mandating that one of the defendants participate in the Inmate Financial Responsibility Program, is modified to make clear that participation in the program is voluntary.

Umezurike v. Holder, 08-2519, concerned a Nigerian citizen's petition for review of the BIA's denial of his motion to reconsider its decision affirming the IJ's determination that the petitioner abandoned his opportunity to pursue asylum and related relief.  In denying the petition, the court held that the immigration judge did not abuse her discretion in denying a continuance and finding that petitioner had abandoned his application for failure to comply with the fingerprinting requirements.  Furthermore, petitioner's failure to timely file documentary evidence adds further support to the conclusion.

In the Matter of: Solis, 09-4075, concerned a challenge to the district court's affirmance of bankruptcy court's denial of an attorney's claim against the estate for $49,719.63 in attorney fees and costs in Chapter 7 proceedings.  In affirming the judgment, the court held that, under the terms of the contingent fee agreement, the attorney is entitled to a percentage of only the money he actually recovered from other parties, not a percentage of the money the debtor had received earlier.

Byers v. Basinger, 09-1833, concerned a challenge to the district court's denial of defendant's request for habeas relief challenging his conviction for first degree murder, attempted murder, and robbery, claiming ineffective assistance of counsel.  In affirming and denying the petition, the court held that defendant did not exhaust his claim on the restraints ground, and that defendant has not established a violation of his right to effective assistance of counsel.

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