January 22, 2012
Last Friday the DC Circuit affirmed a district court's refusal to amend or modify Abramoff cooperator Michael Scanlon's plea agreement. Scanlon sought to amend or modify his plea agreement prior to sentencing in light of Skilling v. United States. He had pled guilty to conspiracy to commit: bribery, money and property mail and wire fraud, and honest services mail and wire fraud. The Court of Appeals, through Chief Judge Sentelle, held that federal courts are statutorily prohibited from modifying or amending plea agreements. Scanlon could have moved to withdraw his guilty plea, but chose not to do so. The case is: U.S. v. Scanlon (D.C. Circuit 2012) (courts are not authorized to modify or amend plea agreements).
Last Thursday, the Eleventh Circuit reversed a health care fraud/controlled substances conviction on Confrontation Clause grounds, because the trial court admitted five autopsy reports, over objection, without hearing testimony from the medical examiners who performed them. The case is: U.S. v. Ignasiak (11th Cir. 2012) (admission of autopsy report violates Confrontation Clause).
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