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NOV 29
Thomas Burns wins Appeal in the Eleventh Circuit

On November 29, of counsel Thomas Burns won a pain clinic appeal in the Eleventh Circuit. His client, a pain physician, had been convicted of one count of conspiracy and three substantive counts of illegally distributing opioids after a contentious 16-day jury trial in early 2019. Initially, after briefing and oral argument, the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the convictions and sentence in December 2021. But in October 2022, the Supreme Court granted Thomas's certiorari petition, vacated that decision, and remanded the case for reconsideration in light of Ruan v. United States, 142 S. Ct. 2370 (2022). After supplemental briefing and a second oral argument on remand, the Eleventh Circuit issued a unanimous precedential 57-page opinion vacating the substantive counts and remanding for retrial and resentencing. The Court agreed with Thomas's argument that the jointly proposed jury instructions didn't qualify as invited error and were plainly erroneous because they misstated the crime's mens rea requirements.