Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Friday, September 11, 2009

Jordan: Rejecting Government Cross-Appeal of Probation Sentence

In U.S. v. Jordan, No. 06-12563 (Sept. 11, 2009), the Court affirmed convictions and sentences arising out of an Alabama Sheriff’s unlawful use of the National Crime Information Center database to obtain the criminal records of those who voted in a Sheriff’s reelection race (which the Sheriff lost).
The Court rejected the argument that the indictment did not give the defendant adequate notice of the charges. The Court rejected the argument that the indictment failed to allege a crime, pointing out that it alleged that the NCIC was used for non-law enforcement purposes, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 641.
The Court also rejected a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence, pointing out that Jordan, as a lawyer acting for Sheriff Woodward, obtained NCIC printouts, and used some of the information they disclosed.
The Court found no error in the district court’s refusal to give a "good faith" defense jury instruction, pointing that the trial court’s instruction regarding the meaning of "knowingly" and "willfully" adequately addressed the good faith defense concept. The Court also found no error in refusing the give the defendant’s "confused" instruction regarding the attorney-client privilege.
The Court also rejected the government’s cross-appeal of the sentences of six month probation. The government argued that the sentencing court erred because it "did not deem the offense to be serious." The Court found that the sentencing court’s findings of fact were not clearly erroneous. Moreover, the sentencing court gave "appropriate consideration" to the § 3553(a) factors.