Case Citation: United
States v. Duka,
671 F.3d 329 (3d Cir. 2011).
Parties: Eljvir Duka, Mohamad Ibrahim
Shnewer, Dritan Duka, Shain Duka, and Serdar Tatar, Defendant / Appellee
Mark E. Coyne, Norman Gross,
Plaintiffs / Appellants
Facts: Eljivir Duka, Mohamad Ibrahim
Shnewer, Dritan Duka, Shain Duka, and Derdar Tatar were arrested and convicted
of a plotting and attempting to murder some members of the United States
military. This group of five was then arrested and convicted of possession and
attempted possession of firearms such as machine guns, in order to take part in
the above-mentioned plot. The United States presented the court with an
abundance of evidence and testimonials by government informants against the defendants.
Procedural History: The defendants are a group from New
Jersey that became radicalized after developing an interested in jihad attacks
against the United States military. Evidence was given in court showing the
group and others in a video from January 2006 of the defendants with weapons
yelling “Allah Akbar!” and “jihad in the States” at a firing range in the
Pocono Mountains. This video was found after the FBI received a copy, which
began 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 multiple
Issue 1: The five defendants believed that
their convictions should be overturned due to the complaint that the evidence
collected against them was done so in an unconstitutional manner by way of the
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA). Was the evidence collected against
the five defendants done so in a violation of their constitutional rights?
Issue 2: There were statements made outside
of court that were admitted into the trial against defendant Serdar Tatar,
which caused a problem because they were a part of the coconspirator exception
to the hearsay rule. Does the fact that Judge Kuglar said these statements lacked
merit mean that they should not have been admitted into the trial causing the
charges of conspiracy and most firearms be overturned?
Issue 1: The difficulty in this case was due
to the fact that the defendants’ conviction was based on evidence gathered by
the government that may or may not have been obtained in such a way that went
against their constitutional rights.
Reasoning: The following use of the Fourth
Amendment and Patriot Act were in support of the defendants’ position:
which was amended by the Patriot Act, violates the Fourth Amendment in two
ways. They stated that FISA’s post-Patriot Act “significant purpose” test does
not allow for the right balance between individual privacy in terms of being
against the government’s interest in foreign intelligence gathering. Due to
this, it does not make sense under the Fourth Amendment.
defendants also argue that there is an unconstitutional authorization by FISA
allowing the government to take part in searches for criminal prosecution that
do not meet the requirements for the Fourth Amendment.
maintain that their convictions be overturned as the government used unlawfully
obtained evidence against them.
conviction of defendant, Shnewer, was reversed on Count 4 and they vacated the
360-month consecutive sentence that was imposed from that count. The $100
special assessment was also vacated. The rest of the counts stayed the
Comment: This case gives a good example of
how acts and amendments may be interpreted differently causing for different
rulings. It also shows the usage of acts such as FISA and how carefully
information must be gathered by the government in order to ensure that
convictions are uphold to the highest extent.