Articles Posted in Federal Law

Courtrooms throughout central Alabama either continue to be closed (Montgomery County, Federal Middle District Courts) or have recently announced closure (As of this week, Elmore, Autauga and Chilton County Courts have closed.) Even those courtrooms that are ostensibly open for business are currently severely limited in what kind of matters they can handle during the COVID-19 pandemic. Obviously jury trials (and Grand Jury hearings) are suspended indefinitely as there is no safe way to achieve social distancing requirements for jurors and others in the courtroom. Other types of hearings are going forward but the slow pace is still creating a backlog of cases that will, in our opinion, take years to resolve once things start moving again.

Interestingly, any Municipal courts within the Circuit Court’s jurisdiction are bound by a Presiding Judge’s order of closure. This means that cases in Montgomery, Wetumpka, Prattville and Millbrook Municipal Courts will be closed until the Presiding Circuit Judge’s order of closure is lifted.

The Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles continues to hold “hearings” but is not allowing live or virtual testimony or presentation of evidence. At the present time applicants must submit materials in support of their position and wait for the result to be announced. We have written previously in this space about the inadequacy of this process and continue to call on this Board to allow virtual hearings for those that request them. After all, a hearing on a Pardon application or Parole request are vitally important to the people involved and these applicants deserve to have their say. Continue reading ›

At Skier & Associates, our practice is varied. We have pending cases in numerous venues including Alabama State Courts (District Court, Circuit Court, Family Court in Montgomery, Autauga, Elmore, Butler, Lowndes and other counties) Municipal Courts (Montgomery, Prattville, Millbrook and Wetumpka City Courts for example,) Federal District Courts (Middle District of Alabama) and administrative bodies (Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles.)

All of these entities have approached their scheduling and handling of pending cases differently during the period of shut-down, and all are taking different approaches to re-opening. This can be confusing for clients as well as attorneys. Continue reading ›

In a surprising and encouraging move, late last year (2018) the “First Step Act” passed both houses of Congress and was signed into law by the President. The Act purports to change several provisions that will have an effect on Federal criminal cases going forward, as well as many individuals who are serving federal sentences already.

Here are some highlights of this 148 page piece of legislation; as always of course this analysis is early and could be modified over time.

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A recent US Supreme Court ruling has the potential to affect many people who have had vehicles searched by law enforcement, including at least one client of Skier & Associates. The Court in Collins v. Virginia held that the 4th Amendment’s “automobile exception” (which allows police to search an automobile without a warrant) does not apply to a vehicle parked next to a home, and that police are required to obtain a warrant before they can search the vehicle.

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I recently became involved in a case in Federal Court in the Middle District of Alabama involving allegations that a client was part of a scheme to perform sub-standard physical examinations for Commercial Driver License holders and applicants.

You can read about the case here.

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Is a police officer, without a warrant and uninvited, authorized under the Fourth Amendment to conduct a search of a vehicle parked near a residence?

This is the issue the United States Supreme Court will decide next year in the case of Collins v. Virginia. I have a case in the Middle District of Alabama with very similar facts so I, along with others, will be watching this Supreme Court case very closely.

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I have filed a Suppression Motion for a client based on a recent US Supreme Court decision, Rodriguez v. United States (2015.) The issue in Rodriguez is the extension of a routine traffic stop beyond the time necessary to write a traffic citation and what happens if incriminating evidence is discovered after that time. While my client was being held after a warning ticket had been issued, their car was searched by police. Drug evidence was found. I have argued to the Court that this search was illegal and that the evidence obtained during the search should not be admissible in court.

For more details, read below:

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Recently, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memorandum instructing US Attorneys to charge the “highest readily provable offense” regardless of other factors in all cases. This reverses an Obama-era policy that called for charging leaders and violent actors more severely than non-violent, non gang-related actors. The net result of these changes in policy is, from our perspective, medium-term uncertainty of results for our Federal clients. Continue reading ›

I recently became aware of a Texas case involving the use of call centers in India who “impersonated officials from the IRS or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in a ruse designed to defraud victims located throughout the United States.”

I advise my clients to be very skeptical about anyone who calls and claims to be from any government agency or bank. Always ask for verification of identity, and never give any personal information like date of birth, social security number, address, etc. to anyone who calls. Continue reading ›

I received a call a couple of days ago from a reporter with the Montgomery Advertiser, and spoke with him briefly about a case that I am handling and he is continuing to cover. Here is a link to the article that he wrote about the matter:

Former Finance official remains in the dark over firing

I am happy that the local media is staying on this story and hope that the request that the Advertiser made under the Freedom of Information Act will yield some information that will be useful to us.

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