United States v Salas

Salas appealed his sentence arguing it was enhanced under an unconstitutionally vague statue. The panel reversed and remanded. Under plain error review, the panel held 18 USC 924(c)(3)(b)’s residual clause is identical to the residual clause in 18 USC 16 which the United states Supreme Court recently held vague and further held 924(c)(3)(b) has the same vagueness flaws of requiring an ordinary case lens and an ill-defined risk threshold. It held the error was plain as binding precedent holds identical language unconstitutionally vague and the cases relied upon by the government predate that precedent.

United States v Silva

Silva appealed his felon in possession and related convictions. The panel affirmed. It held there was no abuse of discretion in accepting a stipulation that Silva was a convicted felon instead of one that he was a prohibited person as the record supports the implicit balancing the detract court did under rule of evidence 403 and on independent review, the panel held the stipulation admissible as it actually satisfied the government’s proof requirement while the prohibited person stipulation does not, the government did not introduce any evidence about Silva’s criminal history beyond the fact of felon status and using prohibited person would have introduced confusion into the trial. It held a conviction based on a gun or ammunition found in a car after Silva’s arrest was sufficiently proved as crimes alleged in the conjunctive in an indictment and disjunctive in the statue can be proven in the disjunctive and here there was sufficient evidence Silva possessed the gun in question even though no evidence was submitted connecting him to ammunition also seized. It finally held DNA evidence was properly admitted as the typos identified by Silva’s attorney did not affect reliability of the DNA analysis and in event the typos went to weight not admissibility.

Mathews et al. v Bergdorf et al.

Bergdorf and other social workers appealed the denial of their motions for qualified immunity. The panel affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part. It held the district court erred when it failed to evaluate claims against each defendant by each plaintiff and instead evaluated the allegations as a whole against the defendants as a group. It reversed as to several plaintiffs on their special relationship claims as they were in the home where abuse occurred under a guardianship and thus not in custody of the state, one failed to allege a custody relationship as to the relevant time period and if a child of a foster child is in custody from birth, the adoption of the child’s mother ended any such custody. It affirmed as to one child against Bergdorf as he alleged a foster care placement which is state custody as matter of law, identified Bergdorf as the social worker who received neglect complaints and the complaint could support a finding that failure to investigate was a conscious shocking decision. It affirmed as to two case workers on the state created danger claims as the complaint alleges they actively warned the abusive parents here when an inspection was coming which allowed the abuse to continue, but, reversed as to the other defendants as the complaint only alleges negligent failure to investigate which is insufficient as a matter of law. The panel advised the case works who prevailed on appeal not to take solace n their victory as their inaction allowed horrific abuse to continue.

United States v Hamilton

The government appealed the grating of Hamilton’s motion to vacate his enhanced sentence. The panel, with one judge concurring in result, affirmed. The majority held that the district court correctly granted the motion as his convictions for second degree burglary in Oklahoma do not satisfy the elements clause of the armed career criminal statute because Oklahoma case law and jury instructions do not settle the issue of whether the various locations which can be burglarized are separate elements of burglary or merely means to violate the statue, the use of “other structure or erection” as a catchall phrase for locations that can be burglarized suggests the locations are means not elements, it is unclear whether the Oklahoma statute is similar enough to an Iowa statute the United States supreme Court held listed means not elements and thus the precedent does not resolve the issue here, use of “residence” in eth charging documents offers no guidance as that term is not used in the statute and case law holds a vehicle can be a residence and thus the charging documents do not settle the issue and thus the majority could not tell if the statute was indivisible, treated it as indivisible  held it covers more conduct than generic burglary and thus the convictions cannot be sued to enhance the felon in possession sentence Hamilton received. Briscoe concurred in result arguing that the statute is indivisible because the text when combined with jury instructions points to means instead of elements, nothing in case law changes this conclusion and the statute is broader than generic burglary and the motion was thus properly granted