Articles Posted in U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

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After a bench trial, defendant-appellant Eldon Boisseau was convicted of tax evasion The district court determined that Boisseau, a practicing attorney, willfully evaded paying his taxes by: (1) placing his law practice in the hands of a nominee owner to prevent the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) from seizing his assets; (2) causing his law firm to pay his personal expenses directly given an impending IRS levy, rather than receiving wages; and (3) telling a government revenue officer that he was receiving no compensation from his firm when in fact the firm was paying his personal expenses. On appeal, he challenged the sufficiency of the evidence and argued that the district court wrongly convicted him: (1) without evidence of an affirmative act designed to conceal or mislead; and (2) by concluding that proof satisfying the affirmative act element of tax evasion was sufficient to prove willfulness. Finding no reversible error, the Tenth Circuit affirmed. View "United States v. Boisseau" on Justia Law

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New Mexico Rule of Professional Conduct 16-308(E) prohibited a prosecutor from subpoenaing a lawyer to present evidence about a past or present client in a grand-jury or other criminal proceeding unless such evidence was “essential” and “there is no other feasible alternative to obtain the information.” In a lawsuit brought against the New Mexico Supreme Court and the state’s Disciplinary Board and Office of Disciplinary Counsel, the United States claimed that the enforcement of this rule against federal prosecutors licensed in New Mexico violated the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution. On cross-motions for summary judgment, the district court concluded that Rule 16-308(E) was preempted with respect to federal prosecutors practicing before grand juries, but was not preempted outside of the grand-jury context. With this conclusion, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed and affirmed the district court's decision. View "United States v. NM Supreme Court" on Justia Law

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Several Albuquerque residents sued Mayor Richard Berry in his official capacity as Mayor of Albuquerque in state court over the City’s redistricting plan enacted after the 2010 census. This case arose out of an award of attorneys’ fees imposed as a sanction on attorneys who brought a voting-rights lawsuit on the residents' behalf against the Mayor. After dismissing the case, the district court found the attorneys unreasonably multiplied proceedings in what it called a meritless case and sanctioned them under 28 U.S.C. 1927. They argued the award was an abuse of discretion. The Mayor cross-appealed, arguing the court abused its discretion by declining to award fees under several other provisions the Mayor raised as grounds for sanctions. The Tenth Circuit reviewed the case and concluded that most of the attorneys’ arguments lacked merit. However, the Court vacated the award of fees and remanded for the trial court to consider whether a different trigger for the imposition of sanctions was appropriate. View "Baca v. Berry" on Justia Law

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Mark Lazzo served as legal counsel for Schupbach Investments, L.L.C. in its Chapter 11 bankruptcy case. After confirming a liquidation plan for the debtor, the bankruptcy court entered a final fee order approving certain disputed fee applications Lazzo filed. Creditor Rose Hill Bank and Carl B. Davis, the trustee of the Schupbach Investments Liquidation Trust, appealed the final fee order to the Bankruptcy Appellate Panel (BAP). The BAP reversed those portions of the bankruptcy court’s order that: (1) confirmed post facto approval of Lazzo’s employment, and allowed fees incurred prior to approval of his employment; and (2) allowed postconfirmation fees. The Debtor, Lazzo, and his law firm, Mark J. Lazzo, P.A. appealed the BAP’s decision. Finding no reversible error, the Tenth Circuit affirmed. View "Davis v. Schupbach Investments" on Justia Law