Judge Lynn’s Donald Hill Decision Upheld By Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals

In 2009, Donald Hill, former Dallas city Council member, was convicted by a federal jury of bribery, extortion, honest services fraud, and conspiracy to launder money, in connection with his tenure as a Dallas City Council member and certain construction projects. Judge Lynn sentenced Hill to 216 months’ imprisonment. A number of Hill’s co-conspirators were also found guilty of various federal crimes and sentenced by Judge Lynn.

The case was then appealed to the Fifth Circuit, with the defendants asserting that Judge Lynn erred in a number of instances:

The appellants appeal on numerous grounds. (A) All four challenge the sufficiency of the evidence presented with respect to their various convictions. (B) Reagan contends that his right to a speedy trial was violated. (C) Reagan contends that the district court erred by not holding a hearing into potential conflicts of interest among defense counsel and into alleged prosecutorial misconduct. (D) Hill, Farrington, and Reagan argue that the district court erred by sealing the courtroom during voir dire and during a post-verdict discussion with a juror. (E) Reagan argues that the district court erred in permitting him to waive a challenge to the Government’s purportedly racially discriminatory use of peremptory strikes during jury selection. (F) Lee and Reagan challenge a number of the district court’s evidentiary rulings, specifically its limiting the scope of permissible cross-examination of Fisher and by allowing evidence related to Reagan’s prior business dealings. (G) Reagan contends that the district court judge should have recused herself because she presided over a previous case involving Fisher. (H) Reagan contends that the district court erred in failing to sever his trial from that of his co-defendants. (I) Hill and Farrington charge that the Government committed prosecutorial misconduct during closing argument, necessitating a new trial. (J) Finally, Lee and Reagan challenge a number of the district court’s sentencing decisions.

The Fifth Circuit unanimously upheld all of Judge Lynn’s challenged rulings on August 2, 2013 (decision available here).

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