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7th Circuit upholds conviction

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a defendant's conviction and sentence for selling a firearm to a felon, ruling the wording of his indictment did not require the government to prove he knew about the gun buyer's past convictions.

In U.S.A. v. Dwayne Haskins, No.06-1438, Haskins was convicted of violating 18 U.S.C. 922(d) after selling a firearm to co-worker Darryl Eller, who was a convicted felon. Eller cooperated with federal agents after police arrested him as a felon in possession and confiscated his gun after an incident at work. Police inadvertently returned the gun to Haskins, who worked as a security guard with Eller at a bar. Haskins then told Eller he would sell the gun back to Eller.

Eller worked with police and was wired during phone calls with Haskins about purchasing the gun. Haskins was arrested and told an ATF agent he knew Eller had been in some trouble but didn't know if he had been in prison. At trial, Eller testified Haskins and other co-workers knew he was a convicted felon.

Haskins appealed his conviction and sentence of 18 months, arguing there was insufficient evidence, his sentence was too harsh, and the government and District Court amended his indictment. Specifically, Haskins argued the government had to prove he knew Eller was a felon and knew of the particular felony referred to in the indictment. Haskins relied on United States v. Willoughby, 27 F.3d 263 (7th Cir. 1994), in which the court reversed a conviction where the defendant's indictment for using a firearm in relation to a drug trafficking crime specified a particular drug trafficking crime. That indictment stated the crime as distribution of cocaine, but the government only proved at trial a connection between the defendant's use of a firearm and possession of cocaine.

In Haskins' case, the indictment specified Eller's 1993 felony conviction and did not narrow the description of charges against Haskins or his knowledge of Eller being a felon. Judge Ilana Diamond Rovner described Eller's felony conviction information as "superfluous background information" that the government doesn't need to prove.

Haskins also argued his conviction should be reversed because there was insufficient evidence to prove he knew Eller had been convicted of a felony. Judge Rovner wrote Eller's testimony that Haskins knew he was a felon, Haskins' comment to ATF agents that he knew Eller was a felon "the first time I saw him", and his conversation with Eller before and during the sale of the gun all prove he knew Eller was a felon.

Haskins believed his sentence to be unreasonable, arguing a mitigating factor was used against him in sentencing and the judge relied on improper and irrelevant factors when sentencing him. Haskins told the court he had been shot by a felon 14 years ago but was not given the opportunity at trial to explain why his victim status justified a lower sentence. The District Court deemed this incident as irrelevant to his current crime, wrote Judge Rovner. The circuit judges found the District Court gave "meaningful consideration" to sentencing factors found in 18 U.S.C. 3553 and affirmed Haskins' conviction and sentence.

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  1. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  2. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  3. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  4. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

  5. I totally agree with John Smith.

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