Appeals and Other Post-Conviction Work
Attorney David M. Dudley has represented the principal defendant in a case before the United States Supreme Court and, in addition to the Supreme Court, he is admitted to the United States Courts of Appeals for the Second, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth and Eleventh Circuits.
He has argued before federal appellate courts over forty times. He has also handled state court appeals in California, Texas, Maryland and Arizona. His work has resulted in reversed convictions or reduced sentences on many occasions.
Mr. Dudley has filed numerous motions for post-conviction relief, including petitions for writs of habeas corpus. These motions have been filed in federal and state courts across the country. Through his post-conviction work, Mr. Dudley has been successful in having major felony convictions, including convictions for murder and drug trafficking, vacated.
Types of Appeals
There are two types of appeals, those that are “as of right” and those that are “by leave or permission.” An appeal as of right is guaranteed by legal principal, statute or the Constitution. An appellate court cannot refuse to listen to the appeal. In an appeal by leave, an appeals court usually has the discretion to refuse reviewing the lower court’s decision.
Structure of the Appeals Process
Most trials begin in local trial courts, and the next step during an appeal is to the state appeals court. If the appeal has not been granted it can continue up the ladder until eventually reaching the highest state appeals court. The next step up, depending on circumstances, will either be one of the circuits of the U.S. Federal Court of Appeals, or directly to the U.S. Supreme Court. Any trial originating in U.S. Federal District Court will proceed to a Federal Court of Appeals, and then possibly the Supreme Court.
The U.S. Supreme Court is petitioned for appeal approximately 5,000 times per year, and grants less than 5 percent of those cases in a hearing. For cases that are refused by the court, the lower decision stands, though a denial does not necessarily mean that the court agrees with the decision. It simply means that the court will not review the case.
What is a Writ of Habeas Corpus?
A Writ of Habeas Corpus is a civil liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. In article 1, section 9 the Constitution states, “The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.”
If you are imprisoned and you demand a Writ of Habeas Corpus, the entity that is holding you must explain why. If there is no good reason, the courts will set you free. In other words, it prevents you from being jailed without charges.
If you wish to file an appeal, contact Attorney David M. Dudley today.
Appeals and Other Post-Conviction Work: Selected Case Results
- S. v. R.M.: Charged with shooting an unarmed man in the King-Kennedy projects of Cleveland, Ohio, the defendant was convicted of murder at trial and sentenced to life in prison. His direct appeal was unsuccessful. Retained to file a petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus, Attorney Dudley was dissatisfied with the work performed by three separate local private investigators whom he had been hired to investigate events leading to the conviction. Therefore, Mr. Dudley conducted the investigation himself. Pursuant to that investigation, he discovered transcripts and other documents which demonstrated that the trial prosecutor had lied to both the judge and jury about secret plea deals he had with the two main witnesses against the defendant. Over the strenuous objection of the district attorney, the trial court GRANTED the defense motion for post-conviction relief and SET ASIDE the defendant’s murder conviction.
- P. v. C.F.: The defendant was arrested at his residence where police found large quantities of many drugs. The denial of his motion to suppress evidence was REVERSED on appeal and his case was subsequently DISMISSED.
- U.S. v. M.V.R.: Federal authorities seized the claimant’s residence and the district court granted the government’s forfeiture complaint. Finding that the trial court had reached improper legal conclusions in issuing its forfeiture order, the federal court of appeals REVERSED the lower court’s judgment.
- U.S. v. D.L.: The defendant was an immigrant convenience store owner who purchased a shotgun after his store was robbed. Unfortunately, the shotgun turned out to be an illegal weapon and the defendant was eventually arrested by ATF agents. After pleading guilty, the defendant hired Attorney Dudley for sentencing. At sentencing, the district court rejected the defense argument that it had the discretion to grant a sentence of probation in the case. Therefore, it sentenced the defendant to 22 months of imprisonment. On appeal, the federal circuit agreed with the defense and REVERSED the defendant’s sentence. On remand, the district court imposed a term of PROBATION with six months of electronic monitoring.
- U.S. v. E.T.: The defendant was arrested by police officers as he was washing out a van which contained PCP and numerous chemicals used to manufacture that substance. The keys to the van were found in his pocket and the glove compartment of the van held documents belonging to him. His co-defendant escaped from the crime scene. At trial, the defendant was convicted of conspiracy to manufacture PCP and other charges. Attorney Dudley was retained for the purpose of filing a motion for new trial. The district court subsequently GRANTED the motion for new trial and DISMISSED the conspiracy count.
- U.S. v. M.B.: Because the defendant had escaped from federal prison and committed a major drug-trafficking offense while a fugitive, the government strongly opposed any reduction of his sentence for crack cocaine distribution pursuant to a change in the federal sentencing guidelines. Attorney Dudley, however, was able to convince the district court to GRANT the defendant a five-year SENTENCE REDUCTION.
- U.S. v. T.G.: The defendant, who had been convicted in federal court of a major methamphetamine manufacturing offense, was able to obtain resentencing due to the miscalculation of his sentencing guidelines. At resentencing, the government argued that the Court could only consider the guideline issue which precipitated the new sentencing—and not the defendant’s substantial rehabilitation efforts while in prison for several years. Nevertheless, Attorney Dudley was able to convince the Court to GRANT the defendant a major SENTENCE REDUCTION based upon those post-conviction efforts.
- U.S. v. J.W.: The district court departed upward by five years in sentencing the defendant due to the defendant’s decision not to cooperate with federal and local law-enforcement authorities. The court of appeals REVERSED the lower court’s decision and remanded the matter for resentencing.
- U.S. v. A.R.: Finding that it could not consider certain mitigating circumstances in sentencing the defendant who was convicted of organizing a 20,000 pound marijuana conspiracy, the district court imposed a prison term of twenty years. On appeal, the federal circuit court REVERSED the lower court’s decision and remanded the the case for resentencing. At the resentencing, the district court REDUCED the defendant’s sentence by five years
- U.S. v. D.M.: Accused of federal defense contract procurement fraud, the defendant was convicted at trial of all counts. Retained for the purpose of sentencing and appeal, Attorney Dudley argued that the loss figures reached by the government and the PSR were speculative. The district court disagreed and sentenced the defendant to over five years in prison. The court of appeals accepted the defense argument and REVERSED the trial court’s sentencing decision. As a result of that reversal, the government and the defense reached an agreement which reduced the defendant’s sentence by almost two years.
- U.S. v. S.D.: The district court sentenced the defendant to over one year in prison after finding that it had no discretion to impose probation in the case. Agreeing with the defense, the federal circuit court of appeals REVERSED the defendant’s sentence. Subsequently, the district court granted the defendant PROBATION with no prison time.
- U.S. v .C.A.: Because the government failed to provide the defense with discovery regarding its alleged racially selective prosecution of crack-cocaine defendants, the district court dismissed the indictment against the defendant. The defense persuaded both a panel of the federal circuit court and later, the entire court of appeals sitting en banc, to uphold the lower court’s sanction against the government. (After granting the government’s petition for writ of certiorari, the United States Supreme Court eventually overturned the appellate court’s decision in a case in which Mr. Dudley represented the lead defendant before the Court.)
- U.S. v. M.H.: Prior to the Supreme Court decisions in Booker or Apprendi, Attorney Dudley argued to the district court, in a case which had resulted in the defendant’s conviction for a major cocaine trafficking offense, that the government had failed to plead and prove substantial, purportedly relevant drug quantities beyond a reasonable doubt. Rejecting the defense position, the district court imposed a prison term based upon drug amounts neither pleaded in the indictment nor proven at trial. Crediting Mr. Dudley with correctly anticipating the Apprendi decision, which was rendered during the course of the appeal, the federal circuit court REVERSED the defendant’s sentence. The defendant later received a reduced sentence in the district court.
- U.S. v. E.E.: After the defendant was convicted at trial for a major powder and crack cocaine conspiracy, Attorney Dudley argued that the imposition of a federal guideline sentence without a departure downward would result in a unwarranted sentencing disparity because the leader of the conspiracy had received a pre-guidelines sentence. The district court rejected that argument as speculative and the court of appeals upheld that rejection. Years later, after the defendant obtained a resentencing due a change in the crack cocaine guidelines, the government admitted that the disparity predicted by Mr. Dudley had occurred and reached an agreement under which the sentence advocated by the defense at the initial sentencing was finally imposed, substantially reducing the defendant’s prison term.
- U.S. v. R.D.: An attorney was indicted for mail and wire fraud in federal court after filing an insurance claim for his yacht which he claimed had been destroyed by pirates in the Mediterranean Sea. Convicted at trial, the defendant hired Mr. Dudley for sentencing. At the sentencing hearing, Attorney Dudley persuaded the court to impose a prison term significantly less than that which both the government and the PSR had recommended. In the process, however, the court rejected the defense contention that a two-point upward guideline adjustment did not apply. The court of appeals later agreed with that argument and REVERSED the defendant’s sentence. A subsequent resentencing resulted in the defendant’s prison term being reduced by about eighteen months.
- U.S. v. R.L.: The defendant was convicted at trial of a federal cocaine conspiracy and two separate violations of carrying a firearm in furtherance of that conspiracy. For those two violations, he received a sentence of 25 years, consecutive to the five years which the court imposed for the controlled substance violation. In rendering that sentence, the district court rejected Attorney Dudley’s argument that, as a matter of law, the defendant should receive only a concurrent five-year sentence for the two firearm convictions, in addition to the five-year mandatory minimum sentence for the drug offense. Eventually, the court of appeals accepted that argument and REVERSED the defendant’s sentence, ordering the lower court to impose a total prison term of ten years.