Cook v Rockwell International Corporation

On remand from an earlier appeal, Cook disclaimed any reliance on the Price-Anderson Act on nuclear incidents and sought entry of judgment on their state nuisance claim. Rockwell argued the Act preempted the state law claim and the mandate barred recovery as well. The district court agreed with Rockwell and entered judgment for it. The panel, with one judge concurring in judgment, reversed and remanded. The majority held that Rockwell had forfeited its preemption claim by failing to raise it in the first appeal and in any event it failed on the merits as nothing in the text, context, structure purpose or legislative history suggests that congress meant to allow huge claims to be satisfied while barring smaller claims like the one brought here by Cook.  As to the mandate issue, the majority held that the first panel held the state nuisance jury instructions were correct, the evidence was sufficient and thus there is no basis on that front to set aside the judgment and the mandate here only barred entry of judgment based on an incorrect understanding of the scope of the Act’s coverage not barring entry of judgment on the state law verdict. The majority ordered the district court to enter judgment on the state law claim, resolve all outstanding issue and get eh case as close to over as possible. The concurrence argued that the first appeal vacated the entire verdict, the discussion of the jury instructions was dicta and the proper result here is to have a new trial on the state law claim.

United States v Zar

Zar, his mother and a real estate agent appealed their fraud and money laundering convictions and sentences. The panel affirmed. It held that Zar and his mother’s speedy trial rights were not violated as the motion to sever their trial was properly denied given the strong interest in joint trials, their freedom on bail and the late assertion of rights, the motion to continue was properly granted given the need for time to prepare for trial and after al properly excluded time is removed, less than 70 days ran form appearance to trial. The panel affirmed the rejection of mother’s motion to suppress because interview with IRS agents took place at their home, Zar invited the agents in and objectively, a reasonable person would know they did not have to talk to the agents. The panel held the jury instructions correctly stated the law, narrowed the universe of fraud to a specific type of fraud and thus worked to the defendants’ advantage and did not amend the indictment. The panel reject mother’s confrontation argument as there was substantial evidence of guilt and the district court limited the jury to considering Zar’s statements to Zar’s guilt not mother’s. Turning to the sentences, the panel held that eh loss calculation did not subject any defendant to a minimum sentence or otherwise implicate jury trial rights, the loss calculation was correct and Zar was correctly found to be manage based on his recruiting and directing other accomplices.

United States v Dewberry

Dewberry appealed his drug convictions and sentences. The panel affirmed. It held the testimony of the coconspirators was sufficient to prove conspiracy to sell power cocaine and the large amounts of power and one incident where Dewberry made crack with coconspirators is sufficient to sustain conspiracy to sell crack and the amount found by the jury. The panel found that the district court did not clearly error in determining drug weights and thus affirmed the sentence on the powder conviction. It finally held there was no error in denying a motion to sever as there was no prejudice given Dewberry received a severance later in the case.

United states v Williams

Williams moved to withdraw his guilty plea based on newly discovered evidence of police misconduct rising to the level of fraud on the court. The district court granted his motion and dismissed the indictment. The panel, 2-1, acted the order, but, authorized a successive habeas petition. The majority held that under ADEPA, motions to withdraw guilty pleas must be treated as habeas petitions as they challenge the validity of the conviction. It also held that truly sua sponte actions of courts to correct fraud on the court are not controlled by ADEPA, but, here the court acted on a motion by Williams and thus was acting sua sponte. The majority also held that power to prevent miscarriage of justice is permitted under APEDA, but, must be authorized by a court of appeals and that did not occur here. Thus, the district court should have dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. The majority then treated Williams’ brief as an application for a successive habeas petition, the majority granted this in part. It held there was sufficient untainted evidence to sustain the convictions for drug possession and drug conspiracy. However, it held there was clear and convincing evidence that police coerced a witness to testify falsely about the ownership of a firearm and thus the majority allowed Williams to pursue this claim. The dissent argued that sua sponte district court action to correct fraud on the court is still allowed, the district court said it was acting sua sponte, that should be credited, and the government waived its merits argument by failing to adequately raise it in the initial brief.