Second Circuit Asks How to Address 924(c) Appeals in the Wake of Davis

By Jovalin Dedaj

The Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in United States v. Davis, 588 U.S. ___ (2019), has opened the floodgates to hundreds of petitions seeking to overturn convictions under the residual clause of Section 924(c).  Now, circuit courts of appeals across the nation are feeling the immediate impact of the decision as federal offenders appeal their firearms convictions and seek to reduce their sentences.  Continue reading Second Circuit Asks How to Address 924(c) Appeals in the Wake of Davis

Supreme Court Strikes Down Criminal Firearms Statute As Unconstitutionally Vague

By Jovalin Dedaj

An important statute in the prosecution of federal firearms offenses was struck down this week by the Supreme Court in United States v. Davis.  The ruling will relieve many defendants who would otherwise face longer sentences for using firearms while committing a “crime of violence” – a phrase the Supreme Court determined was unconstitutionally vague as defined under the statute. Continue reading Supreme Court Strikes Down Criminal Firearms Statute As Unconstitutionally Vague

Double Jeopardy “Loophole” Withstands Supreme Court Review in Gamble v. United States

By Jovalin Dedaj

The protection against double jeopardy is guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution.  While well enshrined in both the law and public awareness,  this protection does not actually extend to a situation in which state and federal authorities seek to prosecute a defendant for the same offense.  For decades, the Supreme Court has justified this exception to the Double Jeopardy Clause by invoking the dual sovereignty doctrine.  Yesterday, in Gamble v. United States, the Supreme Court doubled down on its previous decisions and upheld the double jeopardy exception that allows federal and state prosecutors to pursue alleged criminals for the same offense. Continue reading Double Jeopardy “Loophole” Withstands Supreme Court Review in Gamble v. United States

DOJ Criminal Division Issues Comprehensive Guidance on Corporate Compliance Programs

 

On April 30, 2019, the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) issued the most comprehensive guidance that the DOJ has provided on how prosecutors should evaluate corporate compliance programs (“Policy”).  In a speech announcing the Policy, Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division, Brian A. Benczkowski expressed the DOJ’s desire “to provide additional transparency” to companies in designing and implementing compliance programs.

Continue reading DOJ Criminal Division Issues Comprehensive Guidance on Corporate Compliance Programs

2018 Data Show No Slowdown in Corporate Prosecutions at DOJ

With the change of presidential administrations in January 2017, it was expected that the priorities of the U. S. Department of Justice (DOJ) would shift away from white-collar crime enforcement and towards immigration, violent crime, and narcotics enforcement.  But recent data actually show a significant uptick in both prosecutions and convictions of individuals by the DOJ Criminal Division’s Fraud Section in 2018 over the previous two years.  Moreover, the amount of money the DOJ recovered from companies through Deferred Prosecution Agreements (DPAs) or Non-Prosecution Agreements (NPAs) skyrocketed in 2018 .

Continue reading 2018 Data Show No Slowdown in Corporate Prosecutions at DOJ

DOJ Implements 2018 Granston Memo on False Claims Act

In early 2018, the U.S. Department of Justice announced a new policy encouraging prosecutors handling False Claims Act (FCA) cases to seek dismissal of qui tam complaints that threaten the government’s interests. However, it was unclear how and to what extent prosecutors would carry out that directive. Now a year later, federal prosecutors appear to be embracing the new policy—and it is already having an effect on one case involving a drug manufacturer.

The January 2018 Granston memorandum outlined the Department’s new approach to handling FCA prosecutions in “in light of the government’s limited resources.” Under the new policy, prosecutors are encouraged to move to dismiss qui tam claims as a way to “advance the government’s interests, preserve limited resources, and avoid adverse precedent.” This marked a departure from the Department’s previous policy of rarely exercising its statutory authority to dismiss such claims. To guide prosecutors, the memorandum offered a nonexhaustive list of factors as to when a motion to dismiss a qui tam claim is proper. Those factors include: (1) “curbing meritless qui tams”; (2) “preventing parasitic or opportunistic qui tam actions”; (3) “preventing interference with agency policies and programs”; (4) “controlling litigation brought on behalf of the United States”; (5) “safeguarding classified information and national security interests”; (6) “preserving government resources”; and (7) “addressing egregious procedural errors.” Overall, the memorandum instructed prosecutors to seek dismissal when the litigation does not serve the government’s interests.

Read the full Alert on the Duane Morris LLP website.

DOJ Eases Yates Memo’s “All or Nothing” Approach to Corporate Cooperation Credit

On November 29, 2018, Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein announced the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) much-anticipated revisions to the September 2015 Memorandum on “Individual Accountability for Corporate Wrongdoing,” commonly known as the “Yates Memo” and named for Rosenstein’s predecessor, Sally Q. Yates. The Yates Memo emphasized the importance of holding individuals accountable for corporate misconduct, and set forth principles for DOJ prosecutors to follow in determining when corporations would qualify for “cooperation credit” in corporate criminal and civil investigations. The most significant—and controversial—provision in the Yates Memo required that “in order to qualify for any cooperation credit, corporations must provide to the Department all relevant facts relating to the individuals responsible for the misconduct.” The new policy announced by Rosenstein modifies this “all or nothing” approach to cooperation credit by giving DOJ prosecutors and civil attorneys more flexibility.

In announcing the new policy, Rosenstein reaffirmed the Department’s commitment to prosecuting individual wrongdoers, stating that, “The most effective deterrent to corporate criminal misconduct is identifying and punishing the people who committed the crimes.” However, he stated that the lack of flexibility in the Yates Memo’s approach impeded resolutions and wasted resources, and in some cases was not strictly enforced.

Visit the Duane Morris LLP website to read the full Alert.

New DOJ Guidance on Corporate Compliance Monitors Is More Business-Friendly

On October 11, 2018, Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division of the U. S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Brian A. Benczkowski issued new guidance on the selection of corporate compliance monitors in Criminal Division matters. The Benczkowski Memorandum signals a shift toward a more business-friendly approach to the imposition and use of monitors by the DOJ. Among other new provisions, the guidance directs prosecutors to weigh the potential benefits of a monitor against the costs and burdens on the company, and to consider whether the company’s existing compliance program and controls obviate the need for a monitor.

Read the full Alert on the Duane Morris LLP website.

Courts Confront Clash Between Federal and State Marijuana Laws

The clash between state and federal law regarding the use of medical marijuana continues to present an ongoing dilemma for courts around the country, as illustrated by a recent decision by the Eighth Circuit. In the United States v. Schostag, the Eighth Circuit affirmed a decision by the District Court of Minnesota barring a felon from using state-legal medical marijuana while he is on supervised release.

To read the full text of this blog post, please visit the Duane Morris Cannabis Industry blog.