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Six Criminal and Insurance Cases

By FindLaw Staff on February 17, 2010 3:07 PM

The Tenth Circuit decided six cases today, four relating to criminal matters, one regarding a prisoner's exhaustion of administrative remedies, and one concerning bad faith allegations against an insurer.

In Roberts v. Printup, No. 08-3189, plaintiff brought suit against an insurer, claiming that it negligently failed to implement a system for evaluating settlement offers from injured parties.  The district court entered judgment for defendant after a bench trial.  The Tenth Circuit reversed, holding that it was foreseeable to defendant that its negligence in failing to implement a system to handle reasonable time-sensitive settlement offers from an injured party could result in a lawsuit being filed against its insured.

In Garza v. Davis, No. 09-1448, a prisoner filed a habeas petition alleging that Bureau of Prisons (BOP) officials at petitioner's prison camp were categorically denying review and transfer of eligible inmates to lower-security facilities such as community correction centers and residential re-entry centers in violation of 18 U.S.C. sections 3621(b) and 3624(c), and 28 C.F.R. sections 570.20 and 570.21.

The district court denied the petition on the ground that petitioner failed to exhaust the prison's administrative remedies, and the Tenth Circuit affirmed, holding that petitioner could not establish that he qualified for the narrow futility exception to the administrative exhaustion requirement because the BOP memoranda relied upon by petitioner did not demonstrate that further prison grievance proceedings would be futile.

In US v. Solon, No. 09-8018, defendant appealed his conviction, after a trial, for child pornography possession.  The court of appeals affirmed on the grounds that 1) the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying defendant's funding request to retain an expert because the district court never actually denied a funding request; 2) in light of the brevity of the judge's absence during defendant's closing argument, as well as the strength of the government's case, defendant did not establish a reasonable probability that, but for the judge's absence, the jury would not have convicted him; and 3) trial commenced well within the 70-day limit established by the Speedy Trial Act.

In US v. Darton, No. 09-1137, defendant appealed the district court's denial of his motion to reduce his sentence for cocaine base possession under 18 U.S.C. section 3582(c)(2) and Amendment 706 to the Sentencing Guidelines.  The Tenth Circuit affirmed, holding that the applicable guideline range was the one calculated via the career-offender provision of U.S.S.G. section 4B1.1, which was unaffected by Amendment 706.

In US v. Henderson, No. 09-8015, defendant conditionally pled guilty to child pornography possession and appealed the denial of his motion to suppress the evidence against him.  The court of appeals affirmed on the ground that the district court properly determined that the evidence resulting from the unlawful search of defendant's residence was nonetheless admissible due to the good faith exception.

In US v. Seltzer, No. 08-1469, the government appealed from the district court's dismissal on Speedy Trial Act grounds of an indictment charging defendant with counterfeit money and firearm possession.  The Tenth Circuit affirmed, holding that the delay before trial of more than a year was sufficiently lengthy, and awaiting the completion of a state prosecution of defendant was not a plausible reason for the government's delay.

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