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Opinions

The Middle District of Pennsylvania offers a database of opinions for the years 1999 to present, listed by year and judge. For a more detailed search, enter the keyword or case number in the search box above.

Chief Judge John E. Jones III

Defendant Lavar Jamison objects to his classification as a career offender under the United States Sentencing Guidelines for two reasons. First, Defendant argues that his two predicate offenses should be counted as a single offense because he was sentenced for both convictions on the same day. (Doc. 46).1 Second, Defendant argues that his prior conviction for possession with intent to distribute marijuana does not qualify as a prior controlled-substance offense because the state statue is broader than its federal counterpart. (Doc. 51). For the reasons that follow, we will sustain Defendant’s objection.

Two-and-a-half weeks before a national election of critical importance, Plaintiffs filed the instant suit alleging the improper inclusion of 21,206 supposedly deceased Pennsylvanians on voter rolls. In so doing, it asked us to accept as true its private investigation into the eligibility of thousands of voters. But we cannot and will not take Plaintiff’s word for it—in an election where every vote matters, we will not disenfranchise potentially eligible voters based solely upon the allegations of a private foundation. And, because Plaintiff waited until the eleventh hour to file this suit, there is clearly insufficient time to require Defendant to separately verify Plaintiff’s extensive claims. Thus, for the reasons that follow, we have denied the Motion.

This matter arises in the context of the global COVID-19 crisis. Plaintiff is the owner of a minor league baseball team affiliated with the New York Yankees, whose 2020 season was substantially curtailed due to the ongoing pandemic. Plaintiff alleges it sought relief with a claim pursuant to its business interruption insurance policy.

The instant case arises from the COVID-19 pandemic currently affecting our nation. Petitioners, all ICE detainees, sought release from ICE detention facilities across central Pennsylvania as a means of avoiding potential infection. Their claims were based upon the allegedly poor conditions and infection control protocols at York County Prison, (“YCP”), Clinton County Correctional Facility, (“CCCF”), and Pike County Prison, (“PCCF”). In these facilities, the original Petitioners contended that they were all at high-risk for more severe complications should they contract COVID-19 as a result of either advanced age or from comorbid conditions.

This matter was commenced in December of 2016 by Audi of America, Inc. (hereinafter “AoA”), which is an organizational unit of Volkswagen Group of America, Inc., and is the United States importer and distributor of Audi-brand vehicles, parts and accessories. Named as Defendant was Bronsberg & Hughes Pontiac, Inc., (hereinafter referred to as “Wyoming Valley”), which owns and operates automobile dealerships, including an Audi dealership pursuant to a dealership agreement with AoA. This action arose out of a contract dispute between AoA and Wyoming Valley.

Judge Matthew W. Brann

Pending before this Court are various motions to dismiss Plaintiffs’ First Amended Complaint. Plaintiffs in this matter are Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. (the “Trump Campaign”), and two voters, John Henry and Lawrence Roberts (the “Individual Plaintiffs”). Defendants, who filed these motions to dismiss, include seven Pennsylvania counties (the “Defendant Counties”), as well as Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar.

Judge Christopher C. Conner

Petitioner Nathaniel Clarke filed the instant petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Clarke argues that the length of his mandatory pre-removal detention under 8 U.S.C. § 1226(c) has become unreasonable and that due process entitles him to an individualized bond hearing before an immigration judge. Before the court are Clarke’s habeas petition; the report of Magistrate Judge Joseph F. Saporito, Jr., recommending that the court grant Clarke’s petition; and respondent’s objection to the report. For the reasons that follow, we will overrule respondent’s objection, adopt Judge Saporito’s report and recommendation, and order that Clarke receive an individualized bond hearing within 30 days.

Defendant Mark A. Ciavarella, Jr., is a former judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. In February 2011, a jury found Ciavarella guilty of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, honest-services mail fraud, money-laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud the United States, and subscribing and filing a materially false tax return. Ciavarella was sentenced to 336 months’ imprisonment. In 2018, we vacated three of Ciavarella’s convictions pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 after concluding that he had been prejudiced by his trial counsel’s failure to raise a statute-of-limitations defense. The parties now dispute what relief, if any, Ciavarella is entitled to under Section 2255.

Defendant Emerson Miller objects to being classified as a career offender under the United States Sentencing Guidelines. He raises an issue of first impression for this circuit. Miller contends that recent amendments to the Controlled Substances Act ("federal CSA"), 21 U.S.C. § 801 et seq., remove his prior state conviction-possession with intent to deliver marijuana-from the purview of the career-offender guideline's definition of "controlled substance offense." 

In January 2013, a jury convicted defendant Tristan Green of three counts of armed bank robbery in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2113(d) and three counts of using, carrying, and brandishing a firearm during those armed bank robberies in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A). Green moves the court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 for vacatur of all three Section 924(c) convictions based on the United States Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Davis, 588 U.S. ___, 139 S. Ct. 2319 (2019).

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