Successful Appeal Cases

A good law firm is defined by it’s successes. Take a look at some of the cases we’ve won…


Stinchcomb v. Georgia

Supreme Court of Georgia

We are very proud of the firm and our law partner Leigh Schrope as she put all the pieces together to file a request to overturn the conviction of our client Mr. Stinchcombe through the newly structured Conviction Integrity Unit in Fulton County. The result of hard work and investigation is our firms’ purpose, and it matters.

Mr. Stinchcomb was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison, but maintained that he was innocent and acting in self-defense. In August of 2018, our firm filed an extraordinary motion for new trial on Mr. Stinchcomb’s behalf in Fulton County Superior Court based on newly discovered evidence that was previously unavailable in the form of a critical eyewitness who was not located earlier because the State had indicated that it believed he was dead. While the Fulton County Superior Court denied this extraordinary motion for new trial in June of 2019 without an evidentiary hearing, our firm filed a discretionary appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court which was granted and the case was remanded for an evidentiary hearing. S20A0355. Our firm then approached the newly formed Fulton County Conviction Integrity Unit with the newly discovered evidence and, after discussions and investigation, the Fulton County Conviction Integrity Unit and our firm presented a Consent Order Granting the Extraordinary Motion for New Trial agreeing that the newly discovered evidence establishes that Mr. Stinchcomb was acting in self-defense and exonerates him. The Court signed the order on April 12, 2021, the original indictment was nolle prossed, and Mr. Stinchcomb was released that same day after serving over 18 years in prison.

This incredible victory was highlighted in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution by Bill Rankin. Ms. Schrope was quoted: “This case is another example of an innocent person having to wait a long time for justice. We are so happy that Mr. Stinchcomb has been exonerated and that he has been reunited with his loving family.”


State v. Thomas, S21A0324

Georgia Supreme Court

Attorney Elizabeth Brandenburg, with co-counsel, Howard Weintraub represents Mr. Thomas and is pleased to announce success in the appeal of this murder case. In September 2020 Fulton County Superior Court granted our motion for new trial based on a Brady violation by the State. The court agreed that the State had suppressed a deal it made with an important witness. The Supreme Court upheld the grant of the motion for new trial due to the State’s failure to disclose this deal. The witness was important because other than this witness, there was very little evidence to corroborate the alleged co-conspirator’s biased testimony, which is required by law. The witness had a deal with the State in exchange for her testimony to request dismissal of her felony charge in another county where she was facing mandatory prison time if convicted. After the trial, the charge was dismissed. This deal was not disclosed. Our firm is very pleased that Mr. Thomas will get a new trial with all of the evidence presented to the jury.


State v. Morgan, 12-9-612-52

Cobb County Superior Court

On October 23, 2020, the Court of Appeals remanded the superior court’s denial of a motion for new trial for additional findings. On May 20, 2021, the superior court granted Mr. Morgan’s motion for new trial. Attorney Elizabeth Brandenburg, with co-counsel, Max Hirsh, represents Mr. Morgan.

Mr. Morgan rejected a plea offer and went to trial after being told by counsel that if convicted of armed robbery he could receive life with parole. However, the law required life without parole. He was convicted and sentenced to life without parole.

The court agreed that Mr. Morgan received ineffective assistance of counsel for the erroneous advice given by counsel. Mr. Morgan will get a new trial.

It is important to scrutinize the advice given by counsel in deciding whether to go to trial or take a plea. Contact us if you have concerns over the advice you were given in making this important decision. 


Parole Eligibility for Murder in the Second Degree

After our firm’s advocacy on the subject on behalf of a client, the Parole Board has provisionally adopted a rule adding murder in the second degree to the Crime Severity Chart. Previously, the Board has not reviewed those convicted of murder in the second degree, claiming they are not eligible for parole. This is an important first step in righting this wrong and our firm will continue to support this change.

Once the change becomes permanent, over one-hundred incarcerated individuals will become eligible for parole. Contact our Firm for representation.

April 14th – Stinchcomb Exonerated & Walks Out A Free Man After 18 Years in Prison

Attorney Leigh Schrope helped to exonerate an innocent man after spending 18 years in prison.  A motion for new trial was submitted but originally denied, but then was appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court, where it was overturned.  New sworn testimony was provided to provide additional evident that Stinchcomb was innocent.

“I am so happy to be out,” Stinchcomb said. “This experience has been a total nightmare. I never knew when I’d see my family again.”

Read the full article on the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s website.

Smith  v. MagnusonSuccessful Appeal Cases

In 2001, Magnuson was indicted for two counts of enticing a child for indecent purposes, as well as for attempted kidnapping and child pornography. In a group plea, Magnuson entered a guilty plea on all charges and was sentenced to a total of 40 years in prison, along with combined probated sentences of another 25 years.

The State of Georgia appealed the decision, citing court records that Magnuson had been properly advised of the consequences of waiving his rights with a guilty plea, and had acknowledged that he understood. Upon review, however, the Georgia Supreme Court refuted this argument on the grounds that it did not account for the fact that Magnuson’s mental health was affecting his answers as reflected in the court records. Since the State had produced no evidence to show that the habeas court’s findings were clearly erroneous, the Supreme Court justices unanimously affirmed the decision. Read more…

United States v. Derrick Johnson

United States Court Of Appeals For The Eleventh Circuit (2013).
Derrick Johnson appeals his total 66-month upward variance sentence, imposed after pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, and to distribute, more than 400 grams of cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), 846, and 18 U.S.C. § 2, and one count of distribution of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine hydrochloride, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and 18 U.S.C. § 2. On appeal, Johnson first argues that the district court erred by departing upward from the guideline range. Second, Johnson argues that the district court exhibited bias against him by considering his family situation-his children born out of wedlock and his marital status-at sentencing, and, therefore, should have recused itself under 28 U.S.C. § 455(a). After thorough review, we vacate Johnson’s sentence and remand for resentencing. Read More

United States v. House

United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit (2012).
This case involved a number of issues; (1) whether the record contains sufficient evidence to support a conviction, (2) whether the district court erred in instructing the jury, (3) whether the district court improperly interjected itself into the trial, (4) whether the district court improperly excluded evidence, (5) whether the prosecutor improperly commented on House’s decision not to testify, (6) whether his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance, and (7) whether the cumulative effect of any errors deprived him of a fair trial.

During trial the court gave improper jury instructions regarding traffic stops as applied to law enforcement under Wren v. United States, 517 U.S. 806, 116 S.Ct. 1769, 1774-76 (1996). As a result the court of appeals overturned four of the 12 counts of conviction resulting in remand for further proceedings.

United States v. Patterson

United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit (2011).
Patterson was originally sentenced to serve 324 months, the low end of the guidelines. The district court failed to provide any explanation in support of the sentence it ultimately imposed. As such, it did not allow for meaningful adequate review of the sentence, as set out in United States v. Carter, 564 F.3d 325, 328 (4th Cir. 2009). This error was not harmless and the government conceded the error. Therefore, Patterson was ordered to be resentenced.

The firm also represented Patterson for his resentencing on February 6, 2012. Given his rehabilitative efforts since beginning his sentence, pursuant to the Supreme Court’s holding in Pepper v. United States, 131 S.Ct. 1229 (2011); the crack-cocaine amended guidelines; and the fact that one of his prior North Carolina convictions was no longer considered a felony under United States v. Simmons, 649 F.3d 237 (4th Cir. 2011), his sentence was reduced from 324 to 240 months.

United States v. P.W.

United States District Court Northern District of Georgia (2011).
Here the client was charged with possession of child pornography (cp). The guideline sentencing range was 210-162 months. We filed a sentencing mitigation memorandum citing United States v. Dorvee, 616 F.3d 174, (2d Cir. 2010); United States v. Grober, 595 F.Supp.2d 382, (D. N.J. 2008), United States v. Hanson, 561 F.Supp.2d 1004 (E.D. Wis. 2008), and United States v. Autery, 555 F.3d 864 (9th Cir. 2009). Our client was sentenced to 27 months.

United States v. Pahua-Martinez

United States District Court in Nebraska, Omaha. (2009). Here the client reentered the United State illegally for the second time after being convicted of a drug offense in the state of California several years before the second illegal reentry. The government requested a 16 level increase in the sentencing guidelines based on the guideline provision authorizing such an enhancement for the type of drug offense charged. We were able to argue that the enhancement did not apply to the first illegal reentry and therefore should not apply on the second one. The first illegal reentry was prosecuted in Federal court in California. The Nebraska court did not agree with the California court but none the less determined the inconsistent results would not be reasonable and as a result sentenced the client without the 16 levels enhancement. Sentenced to 27 months instead of 210 months.

United States v. Munoz

United States District Court, Middle District of North Carolina, Charlotte division (2009). Here our client was charged with a cocaine offense. After lengthy negotiations the case was reduced from a sentencing range of 13 to 15 years to a sentence of 8.6 years.

United States v. Lahr

United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia (2009). The client was charged with Tax fraud. After lengthy negotiations the sentencing range was reduced and instead of a five year sentencing exposure the client received 37 months.

United States v. Smith

United States District Court Middle District of Georgia, Augusta division (2008). Here our client was stopped while speeding. A request to search her vehicle was made. After consent marijuana and cocaine were found in the vehicle. After a polygraph exam revealed the client did not know about the cocaine hidden in a spare tire we were able to get the sentence reduced from five years to 11 months.

United States v. Greer

United States District Court, Middle District of Georgia, Columbus division (2008). Here the client was charged with multiple counts related to causing the death of a child using an explosive device. It took several years to indict our client. The government had done an extensive investigation before charging our client. Once we got into the case we established a plan to fully investigate the government’s accusations and evidence as well as address the forensic evidence using our own experts. After continuously showing the government that there was other evidence that implicated another suspect and there was no forensic evidence associating our client with the bomb making materials the charges were dismissed entirely.

There are many other cases we have represented successfully from pretrial through plea, sentencing and appeal. If you have a federal case and need representation do not hesitate to call us. Feel free to contact us online.


Successful Appeal Cases from the Federal Criminal Law Group


  • Miller v. State of Georgia, 464 S.E.2d 860 (Ga. App. 1995)
  • Holland v. State of Georgia, A11A0100
  • Bourassa v. State of Georgia, A13A0092
  • Gilreath v. State of Georgia


  • U.S. v. Cudemo, 100 F.3d 948 (3rd Cir. 1996)
  • U.S. v. Funkhouser, 185 F.3d 863 (3rd Cir. 1999)
  • U.S. v. Holtz, 116 F.3d 470 (3rd Cir. 1997)
  • U.S. v. Kapral, 166 F.3d 565 (3rd Cir. 1999)
  • U.S. v. Salb, 60 F.3d 819 (3rd Cir. 1995)


  • U.S. v. Brightwell, 104 F.3d 47 (4th Cir. 1996)
  • U.S. v. Peterson, 27 Fed. Appx. 193 (4th Cir. 2001)
  • U.S. v. Sanson, 85 Fed. Appx. 967 (4th Cir. 2004)


  • U.S. v. Schreiber, 167 F.3d 213 (5th Cir. 1999)
  • U.S. v. Rose, 449 F.3d 627 (5th Cir. 2006)


  • U.S. v. Landivar, 110 F.3d 71 (9th Cir. 1999)
  • Marquez-Perez v.Rardin, 221 F.3d 1139 (9th Cir. 2000)
  • U.S. v. Osborne, 129 F.3d 128 (9th Cir. 1997)
  • U.S. v. Reagan, 218 F.3d 957 (9th Cir. 2000)


  • U.S. v. Kirby, 31 Fed. Appx. 934 (11th Cir. 2002)
  • U.S. v. Hands, 184 F.3d 1322 (11th Cir. 1999)
  • U.S. v. Nolan, 117 F.3d 1430 (11th Cir. 1997)
  • U.S. v. Ramsdale, 61 F.3d 825 (11th Cir. 1997)
  • U.S. v. Stone, 139 F.3d 822 (11th Cir. 1998)


  • U.S. v. Husband, 126 S.Ct. 322 (2006)

We have also represented appeal cases and section 2255 motions in other federal circuits not mentioned here.


  • State v. MI


  • State v. Aberle


  • State v. Dawn
  • State v. Jones
  • State v. Makoni
  • State v. O’Neal
  • State v. Roberts
  • State v. Ross
  • State v. Stovall
  • State v. Taylor
  • State v. Smith
  • State v. Davis
  • State v. Hudson
  • State v. Adams
  • State v. McManus


  • State v. S.E.
  • State v. D.G.
  • State v. B.M.
  • State v. J.C.
  • State v. J.W.