Interpreting Arizona v. Gant’s “Reasonable Belief” Standard for Warrantless Car Searches

D.C. skyline

In Arizona v. Gant, the U.S. Supreme Court helped slow a continuing trend in the chipping away of Fourth Amendment protections. For years, most jurisdictions allowed police officers to search any car whose occupants had been arrested, even when… Read More

In Re D.M.: When Can You Dismiss a Juvenile Case for “Social Reasons”?

The problem with using a canon of statutory interpretation to justify a legal opinion is that you can usually find some other canon to arrive at the exact opposite conclusion. For example, to support its recent holding in… Read More

What Is “Unprovoked Flight” Under Illinois v. Wardlow?

Aerial view of DC

Flight hasn’t always been such a terrible thing. At one time, courts seemed to recognize that there might be all sorts of reasons an innocent person might want to distance himself from the presence of a police officer…. Read More

Clark v. U.S.: The Government’s Violation of a Plea Agreement

Jefferson Memorial

The defendant is charged with armed robbery.  He and the government reach agreement on a plea deal in which the government agrees to ask for no more than 10 years of incarceration. In a memorandum submitted to the… Read More

In Re S.W.: Context is Critical When Proving Criminal Threat

I have never been a fan of D.C.’s “threats to do bodily harm” statute. For one thing, it criminalizes behavior that is already covered under the assault statute.  After all, is there any real difference between threatening to… Read More

California v. Hodari D: A Criminal Defense Lawyer’s Complaint

California v. Hodari D, 499 U.S. 621 (1991), is a lousy opinion. It used to be that a person was seized for Fourth Amendment purposes the moment his or her liberty was “restrained” by “some physical force or… Read More

SCOTUS on Flight: Alberty v. United States

“[I]t is a matter of common knowledge that men who are entirely innocent do sometimes fly from the scene of a crime through fear of being apprehended as the guilty parties, or from an unwillingness to appear as… Read More

Thorne v. U.S.: You Can’t Penalize the Defendant for Exercising His Constitutional Rights

U.S. Capitol building

It is a challenge for every criminal defense attorney. You want to do everything you can to put the government’s case to the test. At the same time, recognizing that you still might not win, you don’t want… Read More

Aborted Guilty Pleas and Superhuman Judges

D.C. skyline

The disciplined judicial mind should not be subjected to any unnecessary strain;…the most austere intellect has a subconscious. How great is this language? Although the language dates back to 1972, it did not come to my attention until… Read More

Dawkins v. United States: How Far Must A Party Go To Preserve Issue For Appeal?

U.S. Capitol Building

In an opinion issued last week, Dawkins v. United States, 41 A.3d 1265 (D.C. 2012), the D.C. Court of Appeals addressed the issue of how far a party must go in order to preserve an issue for appeal. … Read More