June 10, 2013 4th Circuit published opinions

United States v Medina

Medina pled guilty to illegal reentry to the country. He argued at sentencing that his diversionary disposition of a concealed weapons charge was not a “conviction’ for sentencing purposes. The district court disagreed and increased his guideline range. The panel affirmed. It held that the governing statute 8 USC 1101 specifically includes diversionary dispositions in the definition of conviction and thus the district court did not err.

United States v Chatmon

Chatmon was found incompetent to stand trial for drug trafficking based on his diagnosis with schizophrenia. The district court, without any analysis of alternatives, ordered forced medication. The panel vacated and remanded. It held that the drug trafficking charge was serious as it carried a life term. However, it held that the district court failed to consider an order backed by the civil contempt power which is required by United State Supreme Court precedent. The district court also failed to consider less intrusive means of restoring competency including group therapy and living in open population which were plausible in light of the record. Thus, the district court essentially provided no rationale for its order and the order was therefore vacated and the case remanded for further proceedings.

United States v Hashime

Hashime moved for an en banc hearing on certain Circuit 8th Amendment jurisprudence issues. No judge requested a poll and his motion was denied. Judge Gregory, joined by Judge Davis, concurred in the denial and filed an opinion. He agreed that as an efficiency matter, the motion should be denied as Hashime may prevail on his Miranda argument. However, he argued that the circuit’s 8th Amendment jurisprudence which forbids proportionality review for any term of imprisonment less than life is out of harmony with all other circuits and came out of thin air. Also, he argued that recent United States Supreme Court cases demonstrate that proportionality is central to 8th Amendment review even of sentences for a term of years.

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