Ian Huyett & Brian Quirk*
Photo Credit: hklaw.com
Legal scholarship on the blockchain has largely focused on how the law might respond to the challenges it raises or may one day raise. Some scholars have grappled with how cryptocurrency might complicate the administration of wills, for example. Others have focused on fears that the blockchain will be used to evade the power of the legal system. The literature is only beginning to investigate a more interesting question: how the blockchain might serve the preexisting demands of the law.
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Photo Credit: https://www.istockphoto.com/illustrations/bank-robbery?sort=mostpopular&mediatype=illustration&phrase=bank%20robbery
In United States v. Perez, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that Defendant-Appellant Roberto Arturo Perez’s conduct while robbing two banks did not constitute threats of death, vacating Perez’s sentence and remanding to the District Court for the Southern District of Florida for resentencing. This case had no bearing on Perez’s guilt, as he pled guilty to both charges. Following his guilty plea, Perez was assigned a combined adjusted offense level of twenty-three in his Pre-Sentence Investigation Report which included a two-level enhancement for making threats of death. Based on this offense level and criminal history category, Perez’s sentencing guideline range was forty-six to fifty-seven months in prison. Perez appealed, arguing that the district court erred in applying the two-level threat-of-death enhancement during his sentencing. On appeal, the court ultimately agreed with Perez that his conduct would not have generated a fear of death in a reasonable person; therefore, the appeals court remanded the case to the district court for resentencing.
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The Netflix documentary phenomenon Making a Murderer has brought extensive attention to the legal quandary surrounding the arrests, prosecutions, and subsequent convictions of Brendan Dassey and Steven Avery. This month, a magistrate judge granted Brendan Dassey’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus, which could lead to his release after almost ten years of incarceration. To read Alexander G. Thrasher and Wesley M. Walker’s article concerning the background of Dassey’s case in addition to the proceedings leading up to this month’s decision, please click here.