US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit Opinions
United States v. Deckert
Opinion Date: April 8, 2021
Judge: James C. Ho
Areas of Law: Criminal Law
In this appeal, the Fifth Circuit addressed the application of the two-level reckless endangerment enhancement under U.S.S.G. 3C1.2 to a certain category of offenses known as "groupable" offenses. Defendant objected to the enhancement on the ground that his reckless flight was related only to the second drug trafficking count, and therefore not related to the offense of conviction. The court concluded that, when it comes to certain groupable offenses such as the drug trafficking offense at issue in this case, the court applies the reckless endangerment enhancement even when the defendant is not convicted for the specific crime from which he recklessly flees—so long as the crime for which he is convicted is part of the "same . . . common scheme or plan." The court affirmed the district court's application of the two-level enhancement because the facts of this case demonstrably satisfy the "same common scheme or plan" standard.
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United States v. Horton
Opinion Date: April 6, 2021
Judge: James Earl Graves, Jr.
Areas of Law: Criminal Law
On remand from the Supreme Court in light of Davis v. United States, 140 S. Ct. 1060, 1061 (2020), which requires that unpreserved claims of factual error be reviewed under the full plain error test, the Fifth Circuit again affirmed defendant's sentence because he failed to show that the district court committed a clear or obvious error. The court concluded that, because the district court's implicit finding that the two state offenses were not relevant to the federal offense is plausible in light of the record as a whole, defendant's arguments related to his prior state convictions must fail. Furthermore, the district court's implicit finding that the pending state charges were not relevant to the federal offense is also plausible in light of the record as a whole, and defendant's argument that the district court erred in declining to concurrently run his sentence with the anticipated state sentences fails as well. The court also concluded that the district court did not clearly err by failing to explain its decision to deny defendant's request to run his federal sentence concurrently with the uncharged state sentence. Even assuming the district court's failure to state the reasons for running the sentence consecutively was an error that was clear or obvious, defendant has not shown that the error affected his substantial rights. The court further concluded that any additional explanation of the 18 U.S.C. 3553(a) factors, or the imposition of the maximum 262-month sentence of the guidelines range, would not have changed his sentence.
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