Welch v. United States, 15-6418
The Supreme Court recently agreed to consider extending, Johnson v. United States, — U.S. —., 135 S. Ct. 2551 (2015), to closed cases. The issues raised in Welch v. United States are:
(I) Whether the district court erred when it denied relief on petitioner’s section 2255 motion to vacate, which alleged that a prior Florida conviction for “sudden snatching” did not qualify for Armed Career Criminal Act enhancement pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §924(e); and (2) Whether Johnson v. United States announced a new substantive rule of constitutional law that applies retroactively to cases that are on collateral review.
It has been estimated that hundreds of inmates have already served the maximum sentence that would now have been imposed under the Johnson case, but still remain in prison, serving longer sentences. A decision applying Johnson to those inmates would lead to their prompt release. The question of retroactivity has resulted in multiple circuit splits among the federal appeals courts.
In Welch, the defendant was sentenced to fifteen years after being convicted of possession of a gun by a felon. Because he had three prior convictions of either a violent crimes or a serious drug crime, his sentence was enhanced under the so-called “residual clause” in the Armed Career Criminal Act. After the Johnson ruling came, Welch sought to reopen his case in a second §2255 petition, but the Eleventh Circuit refused to grant permission for him to appeal. The Court granted certiorari and set oral argument for March 30, 2016.
NLPA is often contacted by defendants and their attorneys in cases where the defendant is seemingly out of time to pursue further relief in his criminal case. The case of State of Ohio v. Keith A. Johnson demonstrates how NLPA can assist counsel in the preparation of research that can overcome seemingly insurmountable procedural obstacles in order to obtain a favorable decision upon the merits of a case.
In Mr. Johnson’s case, the Court of Appeals of Ohio found that the evidence was sufficient to support Mr. Johnson’s convictions for felonious assault and possessing weapons while under a disability. In reaching its decision, the Court of Appeals found that the key witness’s testimony was likely inaccurate. Instead, the Court focused upon Mr. Johnson’s failure to report a crime, a crime for which no charge was issued, in order to find Mr. Johnson guilty of felonious assault and illegal firearm possession. Further, the Court relied upon a scenario for the commission of the crimes that not a single witness testified actually occurred. Court of Appeals Opinion, 11/14/14 at ¶20. Not a single witness witnessed Mr. Johnson possess or discharge a firearm.
NLPA was hired to assist Mr. Johnson in pursuing relief from the decisions of the trial and appellate courts. Mr. Johnson had missed his filing deadline in the Supreme Court of Ohio. Working with Mr. Johnson’s attorney, Alex Kochanowski, NLPA assisted in the preparation of an application to re-open the appeal pursuant to Ohio Appellate Rule 26(b). The application was granted by the Court of Appeals, and on December 18, 2015, the Court of Appeals vacated its prior judgment and reversed the judgment of the trial court. Mr. Johnson will now be able to proceed to a new trial where it is hoped that the truth will serve to vindicate Mr. Johnson.
Critical to the success in Mr. Johnson’s case was NLPA’s understanding of the procedural mechanisms and rules applicable to Ohio criminal proceedings. By reviewing every available procedure under Ohio law, and matching the appropriate procedure with the issues present in Mr. Johnson’s case, NLPA was able to assist in overcoming missed filing deadlines and insuring that a conviction lacking sufficient evidentiary support did not stand.
NLPA’s efforts were greatly appreciated. If you or your client is facing evidentiary difficulties and would like NLPA’s experienced team of attorneys on your side, please contact NLPA.
The bottom line is that just because an individual misses a filing deadline does not mean that he must forego all further attempts to obtain justice. Instead, by carefully reviewing all evidence and every action that has occurred in a case, possible means of challenging an unjust conviction will often come to light. NLPA has been at the forefront of attacking unjust convictions. Should your clients find themselves in similar situations to Mr. Johnson, NLPA stands ready to assist you in the research and preparation of any motions and/or research necessary to assist you in the vigorous defense of your clients.
Any defendant, defense lawyer or a family member who has been involved in the criminal system understands how important it is to have an impartial and objective jury selected for the trial. The recent case of Torrence Hatch aka rapper, Lil’ Boosie who was charged with first degree murder in the State of Louisiana, East Baton Rouge Parish (Case No. 06-10-0603, 06-10-0605, 06-10-0607, 07-11-0383), is a perfect example of how important this aspect of criminal defense is. The acquittals of O.J. Simpson and Michael Jackson are perfect illustration of how critical it is for a defendant to have an impartial jury of his peers.
NLPA was hired by Mr. Hatch’s mother to assist Lil’ Boosie’s attorney, Martin E. Regan, Jr., Esq., in preparing for trial. In addition to reviewing ten DVD’s of witnesses’ statements, NLPA also provided a jury questionnaire and voir dire questions to be used by counsel in selecting the best possible jurors from the jury pool to ensure that Lil’ Boosie would receive a fair trial. This strategy was successful in helping Lil’ Boosie have a jury of his peers who were impartial and willing to give him a fair hearing. As a result, the jury was able to see through the government’s efforts to incriminate Mr. Hatch with their unfounded allegations and on Friday, May 11, 2012 after six days of testimony and one hour of deliberations, Torrence Hatch aka Lil’ Boosie was found not guilty!
If you or a client are in need of help with jury selection and/or criminal pretrial services, and want to receive a fair trial contact NLPA!
FOX News is Reporting – Justice Department to release 6,000 inmates from federal prisons beginning Oct. 30
“The Justice Department will release some 6,000 inmates from federal prisons beginning at the end of the month as part of new sentencing guidelines for drug crimes established last year, a federal law enforcement official confirmed Tuesday to Fox News.”