Case Citation: UnitedStates v. Duka,671 F.3d 329 (3d Cir. 2011).Parties: Eljvir Duka, Mohamad IbrahimShnewer, Dritan Duka, Shain Duka, and Serdar Tatar, Defendant / Appellee Mark E.
Coyne, Norman Gross,Plaintiffs / AppellantsFacts: Eljivir Duka, Mohamad IbrahimShnewer, Dritan Duka, Shain Duka, and Derdar Tatar were arrested and convictedof a plotting and attempting to murder some members of the United Statesmilitary. This group of five was then arrested and convicted of possession andattempted possession of firearms such as machine guns, in order to take part inthe above-mentioned plot. The United States presented the court with anabundance of evidence and testimonials by government informants against the defendants.
Procedural History: The defendants are a group from NewJersey that became radicalized after developing an interested in jihad attacksagainst the United States military. Evidence was given in court showing thegroup and others in a video from January 2006 of the defendants with weaponsyelling “Allah Akbar!” and “jihad in the States” at a firing range in thePocono Mountains. This video was found after the FBI received a copy, whichbegan an investigation lasting sixteen months. During the investigation,confidential informants, Mahmoud Omar and Besnik Baklli, were used. On May 7,2007, the defendants were all arrested and indictments were on January 15,2008. Nearly two and a half months later, they were all fund guilty on multiplecharges.
Issues:Issue 1: The five defendants believed thattheir convictions should be overturned due to the complaint that the evidencecollected against them was done so in an unconstitutional manner by way of theForeign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA). Was the evidence collected againstthe five defendants done so in a violation of their constitutional rights? Issue 2: There were statements made outsideof court that were admitted into the trial against defendant Serdar Tatar,which caused a problem because they were a part of the coconspirator exceptionto the hearsay rule. Does the fact that Judge Kuglar said these statements lackedmerit mean that they should not have been admitted into the trial causing thecharges of conspiracy and most firearms be overturned? Holdings:Issue 1: The difficulty in this case was dueto the fact that the defendants’ conviction was based on evidence gathered bythe government that may or may not have been obtained in such a way that wentagainst their constitutional rights.
Reasoning: The following use of the FourthAmendment and Patriot Act were in support of the defendants’ position:Issue 1: a. FISA,which was amended by the Patriot Act, violates the Fourth Amendment in twoways. They stated that FISA’s post-Patriot Act “significant purpose” test doesnot allow for the right balance between individual privacy in terms of beingagainst the government’s interest in foreign intelligence gathering. Due tothis, it does not make sense under the Fourth Amendment.
b. Thedefendants also argue that there is an unconstitutional authorization by FISAallowing the government to take part in searches for criminal prosecution thatdo not meet the requirements for the Fourth Amendment. Defendantsmaintain that their convictions be overturned as the government used unlawfullyobtained evidence against them. Decision: Theconviction of defendant, Shnewer, was reversed on Count 4 and they vacated the360-month consecutive sentence that was imposed from that count. The $100special assessment was also vacated.
The rest of the counts stayed thesame. Comment: This case gives a good example ofhow acts and amendments may be interpreted differently causing for differentrulings. It also shows the usage of acts such as FISA and how carefullyinformation must be gathered by the government in order to ensure thatconvictions are uphold to the highest extent.