There appeared to be little love Wednesday on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for a money-laundering case against prominent Miami attorney Ben Kuehne and two Colombians charged with funneling drug money to the United States to pay the legal bills of Medellin drug kingpin Fabio Ochoa.

The outcomes of appellate hearings are hard to handicap, being by nature a devil’s advocate forum. But Assistant U.S. Attorney Vijay Shanker with the Justice Department’s appellate division in Washington was on the ropes much of the time in two sets of arguments defending the government’s positions. After the judges left the bench, Shanker shrugged at the prosecutor trying the case, who was observing from the gallery.