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7th Circuit orders resentencing, muses ‘wine speaks truth’ in felon gun case

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An Elkhart felon’s defense that he was drunk at the time he told police that guns they confiscated from his girlfriend’s apartment belonged to him failed to sway the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, which did find another error and order him to be resentenced.

Elkhart police responded to a report of gunfire at an apartment. They asked an intoxicated John W. Bloch III and his girlfriend to wait outside while they searched to make sure no one was injured. Police found a loaded Glock handgun and an SKS assault rifle in plain view.

“As the officers removed the firearms from the apartment, Bloch protested that the guns were his and demanded their return. This was a bold statement under the circumstances; Bloch is a felon and also has a conviction for a domestic-violence misdemeanor, making
his firearm possession a federal crime,” wrote Circuit Judge Diane Sykes. Bloch also later told an inmate the guns were his and that he should have hidden them better, according to testimony.

“Bloch makes the remarkable claim that his spontaneous demand for return of the guns was categorically unreliable as evidence of possession because he was drunk when he said it,” Sykes wrote. “To the contrary, the jurors were entitled to credit this evidence if they found it persuasive; and they obviously did. Maybe they relied on the common wisdom found in the proverb in vino veritas (‘wine speaks the truth’).”  

The court did find error in Bloch’s consecutive sentences of 120 months and 18 months in prison and remanded to the District Court for the Northern District of Indiana for resentencing. The court commended the government for raising the error.

“A single incident of firearm possession can yield only one conviction under § 922(g), no matter how many disqualified classes the defendant belongs to or how many firearms he possessed,” Sykes wrote in United States of America v. John W. Bloch, III, 12-2784.

“The district court shall merge the two ... convictions and resentence Bloch on a single count of conviction.”

 

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  • Wasting tax payer money
    Two convictions becomes one conviction with exactly the same sentence, only it is not clear wheter or not that sentence will be 18 months, 120 months or 138 months. Actually if the guns were in a home, whether or not they were his, he is protected under the 2nd amendment. Jurors need to learn the law and the constitution before judging others. The cour5ts need to do this as well.

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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