Justia Daily Opinion Summaries

Criminal Law
May 10, 2024

Table of Contents

Deaton v. Town of Barrington

Civil Rights, Criminal Law

US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

United States v. Morales-Velez

Criminal Law

US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

US v. Ramirez-Ayala

Criminal Law

US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

USA v. Cora-Alicea

Criminal Law, Government & Administrative Law

US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

United States v. Lamartiniere

Criminal Law, Drugs & Biotech, Health Law

US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

United States v. Caver

Criminal Law

US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

United States v. Kirtdoll

Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

Pope v. Taylor

Criminal Law, Legal Ethics, Professional Malpractice & Ethics

US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

USA v. Colon

Criminal Law

US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

Fisherman v. Launderville

Civil Rights, Criminal Law

US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

SBFO Operator No. 3, LLC v. Onex Corporation

Business Law, Contracts, Criminal Law, White Collar Crime

US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

Sergio Rosas-Martinez v. Garland

Criminal Law, Immigration Law

US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

BRADFORD V. PARAMO

Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

USA V. DUARTE

Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

United States v. Daniels

Civil Rights, Criminal Law

US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

United States v. Murphy

Criminal Law, Native American Law

US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

United States v. Smith

Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Native American Law

US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

Greene v. Patterson

Criminal Law

Supreme Court of Alabama

BUSH v. STATE OF ARKANSAS

Criminal Law

Arkansas Supreme Court

Richardson v. State

Criminal Law

Arkansas Supreme Court

In re Randy C.

Criminal Law, Juvenile Law

California Courts of Appeal

Washington v. People

Criminal Law

Colorado Supreme Court

Whiteaker v. People

Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

Colorado Supreme Court

State v. J.L.J.

Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Juvenile Law

Kansas Supreme Court

State of Maine v. Peters

Criminal Law

Maine Supreme Judicial Court

Makis M. v. Commonwealth

Criminal Law, Juvenile Law

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

State of Minnesota vs. Hinckley

Criminal Law

Minnesota Supreme Court

State v. Woolridge-Jones

Criminal Law

Nebraska Supreme Court

GILBERT VS. STATE

Civil Rights, Criminal Law

Supreme Court of Nevada

State of New Jersey v. Higginbotham

Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

Supreme Court of New Jersey

Glaum v. State

Criminal Law

North Dakota Supreme Court

State v. Hartson

Criminal Law

North Dakota Supreme Court

State ex rel. Boyd v. Tone

Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

Supreme Court of Ohio

State ex rel. Salem v. Jones

Criminal Law

Supreme Court of Ohio

State v. Taylor

Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Juvenile Law

Supreme Court of Ohio

State v. Satter

Criminal Law

Oregon Supreme Court

State v. Jones

Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

South Carolina Supreme Court

State v. Lanpher

Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

South Dakota Supreme Court

Hart v. State of Texas

Criminal Law, Entertainment & Sports Law

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals

Commonwealth v. Garrick

Criminal Law

Supreme Court of Virginia

State of West Virginia ex rel. State of West Virginia v. Gwaltney

Criminal Law, Family Law

Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia

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Criminal Law Opinions

Deaton v. Town of Barrington

Court: US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

Docket: 23-1794

Opinion Date: May 3, 2024

Judge: GELPÍ

Areas of Law: Civil Rights, Criminal Law

The plaintiff, John Deaton, was arrested and charged with assault, battery, and disorderly conduct following an altercation at a youth football game. Although the charges were later dismissed, Deaton filed state and federal claims against the Town of Barrington and several individuals, including police officers and the town manager. The case was removed from state court to the United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants on most counts and remanded three counts to the state court for resolution. Deaton appealed, arguing that the district court improperly found that probable cause to arrest him existed, improperly denied his post-judgment motion, and should have abstained and remanded to state court to allow the state claims to be resolved.

The district court had granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants, finding that there was probable cause for Deaton's arrest. The court also denied Deaton's post-judgment motion for relief. Deaton appealed these decisions, arguing that the district court had improperly found probable cause for his arrest, improperly denied his post-judgment motion, and should have abstained from hearing the case and remanded it to state court.

The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit affirmed the district court's decisions. The court found that the district court had correctly determined that there was probable cause for Deaton's arrest. The court also found that the district court had not erred in denying Deaton's post-judgment motion for relief. Finally, the court determined that abstention was not appropriate in this case, as resolution of the state law question would not avoid the need to resolve a significant federal constitutional question.

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United States v. Morales-Velez

Court: US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

Docket: 21-1264

Opinion Date: May 3, 2024

Judge: RIKELMAN

Areas of Law: Criminal Law

The case involves Andy G. Morales-Veléz, who appealed two rulings related to his guilty plea for possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Morales argued that his 120-month sentence was both procedurally and substantively unreasonable because the district court did not provide adequate justification for imposing a higher sentence than that recommended by the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines. He also contended that the district court erred by refusing to consider his motion to return $20,000 in cash the government seized from his vehicle during his arrest.

The district court had denied Morales's motion to return the seized cash, arguing that a separate civil forfeiture proceeding against the money had already commenced. At the sentencing hearing, the court imposed a sentence of 120 months, higher than the parties' proposed ninety-six-month sentence, based on the fact that Morales possessed not only a machine gun but four magazines, two of which were high capacity, and 125 rounds of radically invasive projectiles.

The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit affirmed the district court's rulings. The court found that the district court provided an adequate explanation for the upward variance in Morales's sentence, considering the nature of the machine gun and the amount of ammunition found with the gun. The court also concluded that Morales's claims regarding the return of the seized cash were moot because he had reached a settlement with the government over the seized $20,000.

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US v. Ramirez-Ayala

Court: US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

Docket: 22-1181

Opinion Date: May 9, 2024

Judge: GELPÍ

Areas of Law: Criminal Law

The case involves Miguel F. Ramirez-Ayala, who pleaded guilty to illegal possession of firearms and controlled substances in 2015. After serving his federal prison sentence, he began a three-year supervised-release term. However, within a year, Ramirez-Ayala violated his supervised-release conditions by possessing controlled substances and a firearm, among other violations. This led to a revocation sentence of eighteen months, after which he began another supervised-release term. During this second term, Ramirez-Ayala committed multiple violations, including drug and firearm possession, and evaded police in a high-speed car chase. In 2021, he pleaded guilty to these most recent drug and firearm possession charges, leading to another round of revocation proceedings.

The district court sentenced Ramirez-Ayala to twenty-four months' imprisonment, the maximum revocation sentence, to be served consecutively to his new conviction. He appealed, arguing that the district court sentenced him in a procedurally and substantively unreasonable manner.

The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit found no error in the district court's decision. The court noted that the district court had considered the relevant factors, including the seriousness of Ramirez-Ayala's violations, his repeated violations of supervised-release conditions, and his disregard for the law and public safety. The court concluded that the district court's upward variance in sentencing was reasonable given these circumstances. Therefore, the court affirmed the district court's decision.

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USA v. Cora-Alicea

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

Docket: 23-1927

Opinion Date: May 6, 2024

Judge: Restrepo

Areas of Law: Criminal Law, Government & Administrative Law

The case revolves around Victor Cora-Alicea, who was involved in a drug trafficking operation led by Ramone Velazquez. Cora-Alicea, who had no supervisory responsibilities and was merely tasked with bagging drugs, was arrested and pleaded guilty to violations of drug trafficking laws. His sentencing was calculated based on a base offense level of 31, with reductions for his safety-valve eligibility, minor role, and acceptance of responsibility, resulting in a total offense level of 24. His criminal history category I was based on a nonexistent criminal record. The District Court set his Guidelines range at 51–63 months. Cora-Alicea requested a mitigation-based variance from the range, arguing that his life history, personal characteristics, and an anticipated change to the Guidelines for people with zero criminal history points justified a variance to approximately 24 months’ imprisonment.

The District Court sentenced Cora-Alicea to 45 months on each count, to be served concurrently, followed by a total of three years on supervised release. The court took into consideration his zero-point status but ignored Cora-Alicea’s other bases for a variance. Cora-Alicea appealed the District Court’s judgment, arguing that the court procedurally erred at sentencing by dismissing the majority of his personal mitigation evidence offered in support of a variance under 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a) on the ground that it was “already taken into account” by the downward adjustments under the Guidelines.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit found that the District Court had erred in its interpretation of the Guidelines. The court noted that the safety-valve provision, minor-role, and acceptance-of-responsibility adjustments considered in Cora-Alicea’s sentencing had nothing to do with the myriad of mitigating circumstances he raised under § 3553(a). The court concluded that the District Court's erroneous legal conclusion preempted any weighing of the mitigation evidence against the Guidelines range or the other sentencing factors. As a result, the court vacated Cora-Alicea’s sentence and remanded his case to the District Court for resentencing.

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United States v. Lamartiniere

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

Docket: 23-30191

Opinion Date: May 6, 2024

Judge: Davis

Areas of Law: Criminal Law, Drugs & Biotech, Health Law

Dr. Randy Lamartiniere, an internal medicine doctor, was convicted of twenty counts of unlawful distribution of controlled substances. Lamartiniere had been practicing medicine for approximately thirty years and had a growing number of chronic pain patients. Concerns arose about his management of opioid and narcotic prescriptions and his inability to maintain timely patient records, leading to his termination from a clinic. He then opened his own practice, where a significant portion of his patients were pain management patients. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) launched an investigation into his prescription practices, which included undercover agents posing as chronic pain patients. Lamartiniere was subsequently charged with twenty-eight counts of unlawful distribution of Schedule II controlled substances.

At trial, the Government presented evidence from Lamartiniere’s former patients, undercover agents, and expert witnesses. Lamartiniere testified in his own defense, arguing that he was genuinely trying to treat his patients' legitimate medical conditions. The jury convicted Lamartiniere on twenty counts, and he was sentenced to 180 months per count, to run concurrently. Lamartiniere appealed, challenging the jury instructions and the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his convictions. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the convictions, finding no reversible error.

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United States v. Caver

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

Docket: 21-3753

Opinion Date: May 7, 2024

Judge: MURPHY

Areas of Law: Criminal Law

Calvin Caver was sentenced to life imprisonment for conspiring to distribute more than 50 grams of crack cocaine, having committed three prior felony drug offenses. The Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 later increased the amount of crack cocaine required to trigger a life sentence to 280 grams. The First Step Act of 2018 allowed defendants like Caver to seek retroactive relief as if they had committed their crimes after the Fair Sentencing Act. Caver sought a reduced sentence under the First Step Act, but the district court held that the Act gave it no discretion to grant him relief. The court reasoned that Caver's jury had found that his drug crime involved at least 500 grams of crack cocaine, an amount that still exceeded the 280 grams required to trigger a mandatory life sentence after the Fair Sentencing Act.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed the district court's decision. The court clarified that if the Fair Sentencing Act's changes would still trigger the same mandatory-minimum sentence that a district court originally imposed, a district court lacks discretion to reduce the defendant’s sentence below that minimum under the First Step Act. The court also noted that the First Step Act allows a court to impose a reduced sentence as if the Fair Sentencing Act were in effect at the time the covered offense was committed. The court concluded that no plausible reading of the First Step Act or the caselaw interpreting it permitted the district court to sentence Caver below the mandatory-minimum term that he faced under the Fair Sentencing Act.

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United States v. Kirtdoll

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

Docket: 23-1585

Opinion Date: May 8, 2024

Judge: Thapar

Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

The case involves Tommy Kirtdoll, who was under investigation by a multijurisdictional task force in southwest Michigan for leading a drug-trafficking organization. After several undercover drug deals, the task force obtained a search warrant for Kirtdoll's house, which was described in detail in the warrant application. Upon executing the warrant, officers found drugs and distribution equipment, leading to Kirtdoll's indictment on multiple drug offenses.

Kirtdoll challenged the validity of the search warrant, citing three errors: the address listed was not his, the tax identification number was incorrect, and the property owner's name was not his. He argued that these mistakes rendered the warrant unconstitutional due to lack of particularity, as required by the Fourth Amendment. The district court denied Kirtdoll's motion, ruling that the warrant's other accurate descriptors were particular enough to satisfy the Fourth Amendment. Kirtdoll pleaded guilty but reserved the right to appeal the district court's decision.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reviewed the warrant's particularity de novo. The court held that the Fourth Amendment does not require perfection in search warrants, but rather enough detail for the executing officer to identify the intended place with reasonable effort. The court found that despite the errors, the warrant contained three descriptors that indisputably applied only to Kirtdoll's house and clearly identified it as the premises to be searched. These included the house's geographic location, a detailed description of the house, and a unique identifier - a red star affixed to its west side. The court concluded that the warrant for Kirtdoll's house was specific enough to meet the Fourth Amendment's particularity requirement, and thus, the district court properly denied Kirtdoll's motion to suppress. The court affirmed the district court's decision.

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Pope v. Taylor

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

Docket: 23-2894

Opinion Date: May 6, 2024

Judge: EASTERBROOK

Areas of Law: Criminal Law, Legal Ethics, Professional Malpractice & Ethics

In 1996, Robert Pope was convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. He sought post-conviction relief, but his lawyer, Michael J. Backes, abandoned him and failed to take necessary steps to protect Pope's rights. After 14 months of inaction, Pope sought help from Wisconsin's public defender, who informed him that he first needed an extension from the court of appeals. However, the court of appeals denied his request, stating that he had waited too long. Pope then sought relief from the trial court, which also denied his request due to the appellate decision. Despite multiple attempts to reinstate his appeal rights, all were unsuccessful until 2016 when the state acknowledged his right to an appeal.

The state court of appeals and the Supreme Court of Wisconsin reversed a 2017 decision granting Pope a new trial due to the absence of a trial transcript, which was not ordered by his lawyer and was later destroyed. The Supreme Court of Wisconsin held that a new trial based on the absence of a transcript is only appropriate if the defendant first makes a "facially valid claim of arguably prejudicial error" that requires a transcript to substantiate. Pope, not being a lawyer and barely remembering the events of 1996, was unable to do so.

In the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, Pope filed a petition for collateral review under 28 U.S.C. §2254. The district court issued a conditional writ and directed the state to release Pope unless it set a retrial in motion within six months. The state appealed, leading to a deferral of the deadline. The Court of Appeals affirmed the district court's decision, modifying it to include deadlines for Pope's release on bail and unconditional release if a trial does not start within the specified timeframes. The court noted that Pope had suffered at least two violations of his constitutional rights: the right to assistance of counsel and the right to an appeal equivalent to that available to well-heeled litigants.

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USA v. Colon

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

Docket: 23-1318

Opinion Date: May 7, 2024

Areas of Law: Criminal Law

Gustavo Colon, serving a life sentence for engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise (CCE) in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 848(a), appealed the denial of his motion for a reduced sentence under § 404 of the First Step Act of 2018. The district court denied his motion on the grounds that Colon’s CCE conviction was not a “covered offense” under the Act.

Previously, Colon was found guilty of conspiring to distribute various drugs, engaging in a CCE, using a telephone in commission of his conspiracy, and distributing cocaine. The sentencing judge vacated Colon’s conspiracy conviction, determining that it violated the double jeopardy clause because conspiracy was a lesser-included offense of the CCE offense of which Colon was also convicted. The judge imposed a life sentence for the CCE conviction. In 2003, this court affirmed Colon’s conviction and sentence.

In 2021, Colon moved for a sentence reduction under § 404 of the First Step Act, which allows a court to reduce the sentence of a “covered offense”—that is, an offense that had its statutory penalties modified by the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010. The district judge denied the motion, concluding that Colon’s CCE conviction was not a “covered offense” because the Fair Sentencing Act did not modify 21 U.S.C. § 848(a).

The United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit affirmed the district court's decision. The court concluded that a CCE conviction under § 848(a) is not a “covered offense” under the First Step Act because its penalties—twenty years to life imprisonment—were not altered by the Fair Sentencing Act. Therefore, Colon was not eligible for a sentence reduction under the First Step Act.

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Fisherman v. Launderville

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

Docket: 23-1869

Opinion Date: May 6, 2024

Judge: Stras

Areas of Law: Civil Rights, Criminal Law

The case revolves around an incident involving Corey Fisherman, an inmate at Minnesota’s maximum-security prison, and David Launderville, a prison guard. Fisherman was being transferred to a more restrictive area after a shank was found in his cell. During the transfer process, Fisherman initially refused to undergo a strip search, leading to the intervention of the A-Team, a group of guards trained to handle noncompliant inmates, which included Launderville. After the search, Fisherman objected to kneeling and placing his hands through a small opening in his cell door. Once he complied, he was handcuffed. Fisherman alleges that Launderville kneed him six times, three times each in the face and body, while another guard kneeled on his legs. Launderville, however, claims he struck Fisherman twice in the leg because he was resisting.

The case was initially heard in the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota. The magistrate judge identified a potential jury issue: whether Launderville struck a restrained inmate six times in the face and body or a partially unrestrained one just twice in the leg. The district court adopted the report and recommendation, leading to an appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.

The Court of Appeals affirmed the district court's decision, denying Launderville's claim of qualified immunity. The court found that a reasonable jury could conclude that the repeated blows to Fisherman's head and body were "malicious and sadistic." The court also determined that the law was clearly established that repeatedly striking a fully restrained inmate violates the Eighth Amendment. Therefore, the court concluded that every reasonable official in Launderville's position would have understood that kneeing a restrained inmate several times in the face and body violated that right.

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SBFO Operator No. 3, LLC v. Onex Corporation

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

Docket: 23-1786

Opinion Date: May 8, 2024

Judge: Kobes

Areas of Law: Business Law, Contracts, Criminal Law, White Collar Crime

The case involves a group of grocery store owner-operators and their related company, Anchor Mobile Food Markets, Inc. (AMFM), who sued Onex Partners IV, Onex Corporation, Anthony Munk, and Matthew Ross (collectively, Onex) for violations of Missouri common law and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). The owner-operators had invested in the discount grocery chain Save-A-Lot and its independent licensee program, which turned out to be a disastrous investment. They alleged that Onex, which had acquired Save-A-Lot, had fraudulently induced them into the investment.

The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri had granted summary judgment to Onex. The court found that the owner-operators had signed multiple contractual releases and anti-reliance disclaimers before opening their stores, which barred their claims. The owner-operators and AMFM argued that these releases and disclaimers were fraudulently induced.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's decision. The court found that the owner-operators failed to raise a genuine dispute of material fact that they were fraudulently induced to enter the releases. The court also found that the releases were valid and barred the owner-operators' claims. The court further found that AMFM's claims against Onex failed, as neither Save-A-Lot nor Onex had contracted with AMFM. Finally, the court affirmed the district court's denial of the owner-operators and AMFM's request for leave to amend their complaint.

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Sergio Rosas-Martinez v. Garland

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

Docket: 21-3880

Opinion Date: May 3, 2024

Areas of Law: Criminal Law, Immigration Law

Sergio Rosas-Martinez, who had been living in the United States since he was nine years old, was arrested in 2019 for possessing illegal drugs. Following his conviction, the Department of Homeland Security initiated removal proceedings. Rosas-Martinez applied for deferral of removal under the Convention Against Torture (CAT), arguing that if he returned to Mexico, the Sinaloa Cartel would kill or capture him because he lost their drugs when police arrested him. An immigration judge granted his CAT application, but the Board of Immigration Appeals reversed the decision. Rosas-Martinez then filed a motion for reconsideration with the Board, which was also denied.

The Board of Immigration Appeals reversed the immigration judge's decision to grant Rosas-Martinez's CAT application. The Board found clear error in the immigration judge's predictive findings and legal error in the application of the law. The Board used the factual findings to show that the immigration judge clearly erred in predicting that Rosas-Martinez would be tortured if he returned to Mexico. The Board also justified its decision that the Mexican government would not acquiesce to or be directly involved in any torture of Rosas-Martinez, citing evidence of Mexico's recent efforts to purge corruption from its ranks.

Rosas-Martinez then petitioned the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit to review the Board's reversal of the immigration judge's decision and its denial of his motion for reconsideration. The court denied both petitions for review, holding that the Board correctly applied its standard of review and refrained from independent fact finding. The court also found that the Board provided sufficient justification for its determination that the immigration judge erred in predicting that Rosas-Martinez would be tortured if he returned to Mexico and that the Mexican government would acquiesce to or be directly involved in his torture.

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BRADFORD V. PARAMO

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Docket: 21-55038

Opinion Date: May 3, 2024

Judge: Rawlinson

Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

A man named Douglas Bradford was convicted of first-degree murder in a "cold case" that was solved 35 years after the crime occurred. The case was based entirely on circumstantial evidence. The trial judge excluded exculpatory evidence of another viable suspect, Joseph Giarrusso, who had dinner with the victim on the evening of the murder and was the last known person to see her alive.

The California Court of Appeal upheld the conviction, ruling that the exclusion of the evidence was consistent with the rules of evidence and therefore did not violate the Constitution. The court also found that the evidence related to Giarrusso was not sufficient to raise a reasonable doubt about Bradford's guilt.

Bradford appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, arguing that the exclusion of the evidence violated his constitutional right to present a defense. The Ninth Circuit reversed the lower court's decision, finding that the exclusion of the evidence was both contrary to and an unreasonable application of clearly established Supreme Court law. The court also found that the decision was based on an unreasonable determination of facts. The court remanded the case with instructions to grant a conditional writ of habeas corpus, ordering Bradford's release unless the state of California notifies the district court within thirty days of the issuance of the court’s mandate that it intends to retry Bradford without excluding the evidence pertaining to Giarrusso, and commences Bradford’s retrial within seventy days of issuance of the mandate.

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USA V. DUARTE

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Docket: 22-50048

Opinion Date: May 9, 2024

Judge: Bea

Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

The case involves Steven Duarte, who was convicted for violating 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1), a law that prohibits anyone previously convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for over a year from possessing a firearm. Duarte, who had five prior non-violent state criminal convictions, was charged and convicted under this law after police saw him discard a handgun from a moving car.

Duarte appealed his conviction, arguing that § 922(g)(1) violated his Second Amendment rights. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit agreed with Duarte, finding that the law was unconstitutional as applied to him, a non-violent offender who had served his time in prison and reentered society. The court held that under the Supreme Court's decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Ass'n v. Bruen, § 922(g)(1) violated the Second Amendment as applied to Duarte. The court concluded that Duarte's weapon, a handgun, is an "arm" within the meaning of the Second Amendment, and that the government failed to prove that § 922(g)(1)'s categorical prohibition, as applied to Duarte, is part of the historic tradition that delimits the outer bounds of the Second Amendment right. As a result, the court vacated Duarte's conviction and reversed the district court's judgment.

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United States v. Daniels

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

Docket: 22-1378

Opinion Date: May 8, 2024

Judge: Seymour

Areas of Law: Civil Rights, Criminal Law

The case revolves around Mr. Lyndell Daniels, who was detained by law enforcement officers who linked him to a stolen Glock firearm based on his name. Daniels was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm. Daniels moved to suppress his name as the fruit of an unlawful investigative detention, arguing that the officers had no reasonable suspicion to detain him. The district court agreed with Daniels and granted his motion. The government appealed this decision, arguing that the district court erred because there was reasonable suspicion to detain Daniels.

The case originated from a near-anonymous call to the Aurora Police Department, expressing concern about three Black men, wearing dark hoodies and jeans, intermittently taking guns in and out of their pockets and getting in and out of a dark SUV. The caller believed they were “getting ready to do something,” but reported no illegality. The police arrived at the scene and detained Daniels, who was standing near the SUV. The officers did not observe any illegal activity or firearms when they arrived.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court's decision. The court found that the totality of the circumstances known to the officer when he detained Daniels did not amount to reasonable suspicion. The court noted that the 911 call, the presence and actions of the SUV, the time of the encounter, and the location of the encounter were not sufficient to establish reasonable suspicion. The court concluded that Daniels' detention was unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment, and the district court's grant of Daniels' motion to suppress was proper.

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United States v. Murphy

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

Docket: 22-7021

Opinion Date: May 7, 2024

Judge: Holmes

Areas of Law: Criminal Law, Native American Law

In this case, the defendant, Patrick Murphy, was convicted of murder, murder in perpetration of kidnapping, and kidnapping resulting in death. The crimes occurred in 1999, but Murphy was not indicted until 2020, following a Supreme Court decision that clarified jurisdictional issues related to crimes committed in Indian Country. Murphy appealed his convictions, arguing that there was insufficient evidence to support the kidnapping charges, that the prosecution was barred by the statute of limitations, and that the nearly two-decade delay between the murder and the federal prosecution violated his Fifth Amendment due process rights.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit agreed with Murphy's argument regarding the kidnapping charges. The court held that, even viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the government, it did not show that Murphy held the victim for an appreciable period of time, which is a requirement under the federal kidnapping statute. However, the court rejected Murphy's other two arguments. The court found that the statute of limitations did not bar the prosecution because the crimes with which Murphy was charged are, as a general matter, punishable by death and thus not subject to the general five-year statute of limitations for non-capital federal crimes. The court also found that Murphy failed to demonstrate that the twenty-year delay in bringing the federal prosecution against him violated his Fifth Amendment due process rights.

As a result, the court reversed Murphy's kidnapping-related convictions but affirmed his conviction for murder. The case was remanded to the district court for resentencing.

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United States v. Smith

Court: US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

Docket: 22-2142

Opinion Date: May 7, 2024

Judge: CARSON

Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Native American Law

The case involves Douglas Smith, a non-Indian, who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for an act he committed on his property located within the exterior boundaries of the Pueblo of Santa Clara. Smith shot and killed Maria Gallegos, who he saw trying to break into a trailer on his property. Prior to trial, Smith moved to dismiss the case for lack of federal jurisdiction, arguing that the federal district court lacked criminal jurisdiction over crimes committed on his property and that Congress acted outside its constitutional authority when it passed the Indian Pueblo Land Act Amendments of 2005. The district court denied his motion.

Smith's case was appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. The appellate court had to decide whether federal criminal jurisdiction extends to land owned by a non-Indian within the exterior boundaries of a Pueblo. The court affirmed the district court's decision, concluding that Smith's property is Indian country under 18 U.S.C. § 1151, and therefore, his crime is subject to federal criminal jurisdiction under 18 U.S.C. § 1152.

Smith also claimed that the 2005 Amendment is unconstitutional as applied to him. The court disagreed, holding that the 2005 Amendment did not unconstitutionally extend federal criminal jurisdiction to Smith's land. The court reasoned that the 2005 Amendment only exercised preexisting federal jurisdiction over Smith's land and was thus not an unconstitutional enactment as applied to Smith.

Lastly, Smith contended that the district court erred in declining his request for a two-level sentence reduction for accepting responsibility for his crime. The appellate court found no clear error in the district court's determination, noting that Smith had challenged the factual element of intent at trial, which provided a clear basis to conclude that he did not accept responsibility. The court affirmed the district court's decision.

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Greene v. Patterson

Court: Supreme Court of Alabama

Docket: SC-2023-0945

Opinion Date: May 3, 2024

Judge: Sellers

Areas of Law: Criminal Law

In November 2015, Raymond Shane Greene was convicted of rape, sodomy, and sexual abuse of a child under 12 years of age. The trial court sentenced Greene to life imprisonment for the rape conviction, 99 years' imprisonment for the sodomy conviction, and 10 years' imprisonment for the sexual-abuse conviction. Greene had initially been tried for these offenses in August 2015, but a mistrial was declared due to the State's inadvertent failure to provide defense counsel with certain evidence. Greene was retried in November 2015 and convicted.

Following the mistrial, Greene filed a motion to dismiss the charges against him on the ground of double jeopardy stemming from alleged prosecutorial misconduct. The trial court presumably denied that motion, as Greene was retried and convicted. On July 7, 2023, Greene, acting pro se, commenced an action in the Mobile Circuit Court, arguing that his November 2015 criminal convictions were due to be set aside on double-jeopardy grounds. He accused Nicki E. Patterson, the assistant district attorney who had prosecuted him, of prosecutorial misconduct. The Mobile County District Attorney's Office, on behalf of Patterson, filed a motion to dismiss, which the circuit court granted.

The Supreme Court of Alabama affirmed the circuit court's decision. The court held that Greene could not use a rule of civil procedure to collaterally attack a criminal judgment; rather, Rule 32, Ala. R. Crim. P., provides the exclusive remedy for challenging a final judgment of conviction. Because the circuit court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction to entertain Greene's civil action, it properly granted Patterson's motion to dismiss.

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BUSH v. STATE OF ARKANSAS

Court: Arkansas Supreme Court

Citation: 2024 Ark. 77

Opinion Date: May 9, 2024

Judge: Hudson

Areas of Law: Criminal Law

The case revolves around the appellant, Jacovan Bush, who was convicted of capital murder, aggravated residential burglary, aggravated robbery, and theft of property. The charges stemmed from an incident where men broke into Devon Howard's apartment and killed him. Bush was arrested after his blood was found at the crime scene and matched the DNA samples. Bush's defense argued that the blood stains were dry when found, suggesting they were shed before the murder. However, a crime-scene specialist testified that a specific blood sample was fresh when she arrived but had dried by the time law enforcement finished clearing the scene.

Prior to the trial, Bush had moved to exclude the crime-scene specialist's testimony, arguing it was improper expert testimony. The circuit court denied this motion. During the trial, the State presented several witnesses, including the crime-scene specialist, who testified about the blood evidence. After the State rested, Bush moved for a directed verdict on all counts, which the circuit court denied. The jury found Bush guilty on all counts, and he was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole, plus an additional forty years.

On appeal, Bush argued that the circuit court erred in denying his motion for a directed verdict due to insufficient evidence and in denying his motion to exclude the crime-scene specialist's testimony. The Supreme Court of Arkansas affirmed the lower court's decision, holding that there was substantial evidence to support the convictions and that the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in admitting the crime-scene specialist's testimony. The court noted that the jury could have reasonably concluded that Bush was in the apartment around the time of the murder based on the DNA evidence and the testimony about the blood's condition.

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Richardson v. State

Court: Arkansas Supreme Court

Citation: 2024 Ark. 81

Opinion Date: May 9, 2024

Judge: Webb

Areas of Law: Criminal Law

The case revolves around Maurice Richardson, who was convicted of second-degree murder, rape, and abuse of a corpse. The victim, Tonia Tran, was found suffocated to death, severely beaten, and with vaginal injuries. Evidence linked Richardson to the crime, including Tran's blood found in his bedroom and her car, her body wrapped in a bedspread matching pillow shams from his home, and a cigarette butt with his DNA near her body. Richardson had initially denied his relationship with Tran but later admitted to living with her and having sex recently. However, he denied involvement in the murder.

Richardson was initially charged with first-degree murder, rape, and abuse of a corpse. He moved for a directed verdict on all charges, arguing insufficient evidence to prove he caused Tran's death, that Tran was alive during the sexual activity, or that it was done for sexual gratification. He also argued that there was no evidence he knowingly mistreated or concealed a corpse in an offensive manner. The circuit court denied the motions, and the jury convicted him of second-degree murder, rape, and abuse of a corpse. He was sentenced as a habitual offender to sixty years’ imprisonment, life imprisonment, and thirty years’ imprisonment, respectively.

In the Supreme Court of Arkansas, Richardson argued that insufficient evidence supported his murder and rape convictions. The court, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict, found substantial evidence to support the convictions. The court noted that Richardson's DNA was found near Tran's body, her blood was found in his bedroom and her car, and her body was wrapped in bedding matching items from his home. The court also noted Richardson's attempts to conceal the crime, including moving a blood-stained mattress and Tran's belongings, buying new bedding, and lying about his relationship with Tran. The court affirmed the lower court's decision.

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In re Randy C.

Court: California Courts of Appeal

Docket: A167331(First Appellate District)

Opinion Date: May 3, 2024

Judge: Jackson

Areas of Law: Criminal Law, Juvenile Law

The case involves a minor, Randy C., who was stopped by police for driving a car with illegally tinted windows. During the stop, the officer smelled unburnt marijuana and observed a marijuana blunt on the passenger's lap. The officer conducted a search of the vehicle, finding a handgun in the glove compartment and an AR-15 firearm in the trunk. Randy C. was subsequently charged with multiple felony offenses, including possession of an assault weapon by a minor and possession of a concealed firearm and ammunition in a vehicle by a minor. He moved to suppress the evidence, arguing there was no probable cause to search the vehicle.

The juvenile court denied Randy C.'s motion to suppress the evidence. Following this ruling, Randy C. admitted to the felony offenses charged, and the remaining counts were dismissed pursuant to a negotiated plea deal. The juvenile court declared wardship and committed Randy C. to juvenile hall for 274 days with 55 days of credit for time served. Randy C. appealed the denial of his motion to suppress, arguing that the search and seizure conducted by police were unlawful.

The Court of Appeal of the State of California First Appellate District affirmed the juvenile court's decision. The court held that the officer had probable cause to search the vehicle based on the smell of unburnt marijuana and the observation of a marijuana blunt in the passenger's lap, which was considered an open container of marijuana in violation of the law. The court rejected Randy C.'s argument that the marijuana blunt was not an "open container" within the meaning of the law, concluding that the paper wrapping enclosing the marijuana presented no barrier to accessing the marijuana, thereby facilitating its consumption.

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Washington v. People

Court: Colorado Supreme Court

Citation: 2024 CO 26

Opinion Date: May 6, 2024

Judge: Hart

Areas of Law: Criminal Law

The case revolves around Joseph Wayne Washington, who was charged with multiple crimes including murder, drug possession, witness tampering, violation of a protection order, and solicitation of murder. Washington argued that these charges should not have been tried together, citing a previous case, Norman v. People, which he believed established a rule of automatic reversal for improper joinder of charges.

The case was first tried in a lower court where Washington's motion to sever the charges into four separate cases was denied. The court ruled that all seventeen charges were interconnected and part of the same incident. The case proceeded to trial, and Washington was found guilty of second degree murder, ten drug possession counts, violation of a protection order, and witness tampering. He was acquitted of first degree murder, one of the drug possession counts, and the murder solicitation charges.

Washington appealed, arguing that his convictions should be reversed due to prejudicial misjoinder under Rule 8(a)(2). The court of appeals affirmed Washington’s conviction, concluding that misjoinder is not a structural error and requires the same harmless-error review that applies to other trial errors.

The Supreme Court of the State of Colorado affirmed the decision of the court of appeals. The court clarified that the previous case, Norman v. People, did not create a rule of automatic reversal for improper joinder of charges. Instead, the court held that harmless-error review applies to misjoinder. The court concluded that if there was any error in joining the various charges in Washington’s case, that error was harmless.

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Whiteaker v. People

Court: Colorado Supreme Court

Citation: 2024 CO 25

Opinion Date: May 6, 2024

Judge: Hood

Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

The case revolves around Taunia Marie Whiteaker, who was convicted of second degree burglary, first degree criminal trespass, third degree assault, and harassment following a physical altercation at her mother-in-law's house. Whiteaker appealed her conviction, arguing that the district court erred by failing to merge her conviction for first degree criminal trespass into her conviction for second degree burglary.

The Colorado Court of Appeals rejected Whiteaker's argument, relying on a previous ruling that first degree criminal trespass is not a lesser included offense of second degree burglary. The court reasoned that even though subsequent opinions cast doubt on the previous ruling, it was the prerogative of the Supreme Court alone to overrule its cases. One judge disagreed, believing that a recent opinion had abrogated the previous ruling, but agreed that both convictions should survive because the district court's error in failing to merge the two offenses was not plain.

The Supreme Court of the State of Colorado reversed the judgment of the Court of Appeals. The court agreed with Whiteaker that first degree criminal trespass is a lesser included offense of second degree burglary, and that her overlapping convictions violated the double jeopardy clauses of the federal and state constitutions. The court held that double jeopardy sentencing errors require automatic reversal even when the error isn't obvious to the district court. Therefore, Whiteaker's convictions for trespass and burglary merge. The court remanded the case to the Court of Appeals to instruct the district court to amend the mittimus to reflect the merger of Whiteaker's conviction for first degree criminal trespass into her conviction for second degree burglary.

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State v. J.L.J.

Court: Kansas Supreme Court

Docket: 125430

Opinion Date: May 3, 2024

Judge: WALL

Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Juvenile Law

The case involves a juvenile, J.L.J., who was charged with first-degree felony murder and several other offenses after he opened fire on a car, killing a 12-year-old boy. J.L.J. was certified for adult prosecution and testified that he was acting in self-defense. The jury rejected his self-defense claim and convicted him on all charges.

The case was previously heard in the Leavenworth District Court where J.L.J. was convicted. On appeal, J.L.J. raised several claims of error, including prosecutorial errors and the argument that the State unconstitutionally pitted his right to prepare for his defense against his right to testify at trial.

The Supreme Court of the State of Kansas affirmed the lower court's decision. The court found that while the prosecutor erred by asking potential jurors if they would do their "job" and convict J.L.J., this error was harmless and did not affect the jury's verdict. The court also disagreed with J.L.J.'s argument that the prosecutor misstated the law on self-defense during closing argument. Furthermore, the court found that the State's impeachment of J.L.J. did not violate the unconstitutional-conditions doctrine. Lastly, the court declined to invoke an exception to the general preservation rule to address J.L.J.'s argument that the adult certification process violates his constitutional rights.

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State of Maine v. Peters

Court: Maine Supreme Judicial Court

Citation: 2024 ME 33

Opinion Date: May 7, 2024

Judge: Mead

Areas of Law: Criminal Law

The case involves Richard Peters, who was convicted for hunting a deer after having killed one and unlawful possession of wild animals. Peters appealed his conviction, challenging the denial of his motions for a mistrial, the sufficiency of the State’s bill of particulars, and the jury instructions. He also argued that double jeopardy protections barred his conviction on the charge of unlawful possession of wild animals.

Previously, the trial court had stayed Peters’s sentence to require him to report to the Androscoggin County Sheriff’s alternative sentencing program. However, after Peters appealed, the court amended the stay to require him to surrender to the Penobscot County Sheriff to serve his sentence, interpreting M.R.U. Crim. P. 38(d) strictly.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court disagreed with Peters's contentions and affirmed the judgment. However, the court agreed with Peters that the trial court retained the authority to order the original stay and remanded the case for the trial court to consider whether to reinstate it. The court clarified that the trial court, having determined that the alternative sentencing program was appropriate, retained the discretion to order a stay to effectuate that determination.

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Makis M. v. Commonwealth

Court: Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

Docket: SJC-13476

Opinion Date: May 7, 2024

Judge: Gaziano

Areas of Law: Criminal Law, Juvenile Law

The case involves a juvenile who was apprehended with firearms and ammunition and charged with various offenses. After being arraigned as a youthful offender, the juvenile was diagnosed with several information-processing disorders, including a language-based learning disorder. The juvenile was found incompetent to stand trial but capable of attaining competency in the future. However, after two competency proceedings, the juvenile was again found incompetent to stand trial, and the judge declined to make a definite finding on whether the juvenile could attain competency in the foreseeable future. The juvenile filed motions to dismiss the charges under the statute governing the dismissal of pending charges against incompetent persons, but these motions were denied.

The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts was tasked with deciding three main issues. First, whether the mental health code provides for the remediation of incompetent juveniles, particularly those incompetent but not mentally ill. Second, whether, in the absence of remediation programming under the mental health code, the ability to create and mandate remediation programming is within the scope of the Juvenile Court's inherent authority. Lastly, whether the pending charges against the juvenile can be dismissed "in the interest of justice."

The court held that the mental health code does not provide for the remediation of juveniles found incompetent for reasons other than mental illness. It also rejected the argument that the ability to create and mandate remediation programming for incompetent juveniles falls within the purview of the Juvenile Court's inherent authority, stating that the creation of remediation programming falls within the purview of the Legislature. Regarding the dismissal of charges, the court remanded the matter to the Juvenile Court for further findings on whether the juvenile poses a present danger to the community.

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State of Minnesota vs. Hinckley

Court: Minnesota Supreme Court

Docket: A22-1206

Opinion Date: May 1, 2024

Judge: Anderson

Areas of Law: Criminal Law

Tyson Joe Hinckley was convicted of first-degree arson, second-degree burglary, and theft of a motor vehicle. Hinckley had stolen a vehicle from a garage and started a fire that damaged the garage and an adjacent home. He sought to assert a mental-illness defense at trial, submitting multiple psychological reports attesting to his mental illness at the time of his offenses. However, the district court rejected the mental-illness defense, concluding that Hinckley had not provided sufficient evidence that he was acting under a defect in reasoning caused by mental illness at the time of the offenses. Hinckley was found guilty at trial, and the court of appeals affirmed the convictions.

The Minnesota Supreme Court reversed the lower courts' decisions, holding that the district court had abused its discretion by denying Hinckley the right to assert a mental-illness defense. The Supreme Court found that the psychological reports submitted by Hinckley provided sufficient evidence to establish a prima facie case of a mental-illness defense. The court concluded that the district court's error was not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt, as it could not be certain that the jury's verdict was surely unattributable to the error. The case was remanded for further proceedings consistent with the Supreme Court's opinion.

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State v. Woolridge-Jones

Court: Nebraska Supreme Court

Citation: 316 Neb. 500

Opinion Date: May 3, 2024

Judge: Papik

Areas of Law: Criminal Law

The case involves Makhi Woolridge-Jones, who was convicted of second-degree murder, second-degree assault, and two counts of use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony. The charges stemmed from a shooting at a shopping mall that resulted in the death of one man and injury to a woman. Woolridge-Jones fired multiple shots, hitting the man. On appeal, Woolridge-Jones argued that the district court erred in excluding expert testimony that would have opined that the initial shot fired by him put him in a state of peritraumatic dissociation. He also claimed that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions and that his sentences were excessive.

The District Court for Douglas County had previously found Woolridge-Jones guilty of the lesser-included offense of second-degree murder, second-degree assault, and two counts of use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony. The court had also excluded the expert testimony of a licensed psychologist who had evaluated Woolridge-Jones and opined that he experienced symptoms of peritraumatic dissociation during the shooting incident.

The Nebraska Supreme Court affirmed the lower court's decision. The court found that the expert's testimony would not have assisted the jury in determining whether Woolridge-Jones acted with the requisite intent to be found guilty of second-degree murder. The court also found that there was sufficient evidence to support Woolridge-Jones' convictions and that the district court did not abuse its discretion in sentencing him.

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GILBERT VS. STATE

Court: Supreme Court of Nevada

Citation: 140 Nev. Adv. Op. No. 33

Opinion Date: May 9, 2024

Judge: Cadish

Areas of Law: Civil Rights, Criminal Law

The case involves Jesse Calvin Gilbert, who was pulled over by a law enforcement deputy due to a non-operating license plate light. Gilbert was arrested on an active warrant, and the deputy conducted a warrantless search of the vehicle. During the search, the deputy found a handgun under the driver's seat. Gilbert, an ex-felon, was charged with possession of a firearm and moved to suppress the evidence, arguing that the search was not a true inventory search but a ruse to conduct an investigatory search.

The district court denied Gilbert's motion, finding that the deputy appropriately impounded the vehicle and the inventory search was reasonable. Gilbert appealed his subsequent conviction based on the search and the unsuppressed evidence.

The Supreme Court of Nevada affirmed the district court's decision. The court clarified that an investigatory motive does not necessarily invalidate an inventory search as long as the search that occurred is the same as the inventory-based search that would have happened absent any such motivation. The court also stated that a court deciding a suppression motion must determine the search's reasonableness under the totality of the circumstances by evaluating the extent to which law enforcement departed from the standardized procedures, whether the scope of the search was as expected in light of the underlying justifications for inventory searches, and whether the inventory produced served the purposes of an inventory search. The court concluded that the search was reasonable and denied Gilbert's motion to suppress.

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State of New Jersey v. Higginbotham

Court: Supreme Court of New Jersey

Docket: A-57-22

Opinion Date: May 8, 2024

Judge: Wainer Apter

Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

The case revolves around Andrew Higginbotham, who was charged with sixteen counts of endangering the welfare of a child under a specific subsection of New Jersey law. This law makes it a crime to depict a child in a sexually suggestive manner for the purpose of sexual stimulation or gratification, where the depiction lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value. The charges arose from photographs Higginbotham had distributed of a five-year-old girl, over which he superimposed sexually explicit, obscene text. Higginbotham moved to dismiss the indictment, arguing that the law was unconstitutionally vague and overbroad.

The trial court denied Higginbotham's motion, but the Appellate Division reversed the decision, holding that the definitions of "portray a child in a sexually suggestive manner" were unconstitutionally overbroad because they criminalized images that were neither child pornography nor obscenity. The case was then brought to the Supreme Court of New Jersey.

The Supreme Court of New Jersey held that the specific subsection of the law under which Higginbotham was charged was unconstitutionally overbroad because it criminalized a large amount of material that was neither obscenity nor child pornography. The court did not reach a decision on whether the law was also unconstitutionally vague. The court did not comment on the validity of other subsections of the law, as Higginbotham was not charged under those subsections and did not challenge them. The court affirmed the Appellate Division's decision as modified and remanded the case to the trial court for further proceedings.

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Glaum v. State

Court: North Dakota Supreme Court

Citation: 2024 ND 86

Opinion Date: May 2, 2024

Judge: McEvers

Areas of Law: Criminal Law

The case involves Joseph Glaum, who had pleaded guilty to various criminal charges in several cases between 1997 and 2008. In 2023, Glaum moved to reopen these cases and withdraw his guilty pleas. Around the same time, he made similar motions in four other closed cases. All these motions were denied by the district court. In April 2023, the presiding judge of the Northeast Central Judicial District entered a proposed pre-filing order under N.D. Sup. Ct. Admin. R. 58, finding Glaum to be a vexatious litigant. This order prohibited Glaum from filing any new litigation or new documents in existing litigation as a self-represented party without first obtaining leave of the court. Glaum appealed this pre-filing order.

The State moved to dismiss Glaum's appeal, arguing it was untimely. The State contended that Glaum's appeal of the pre-filing order was an appeal from an order in a criminal case, which should have been filed within 30 days after entry of the order being appealed. Glaum, however, argued that this was an appeal from an order in a civil case, which should be filed within 60 days from service of notice of entry of the judgment or order being appealed.

The Supreme Court of North Dakota denied the State’s motion to dismiss, concluding the appeal was timely. The court determined that the pre-filing order was not an order in a criminal case, but rather an order in a civil case or a postconviction proceeding. The court noted that the time for filing an appeal did not begin to run because Glaum was not served with the notice of entry of the pre-filing order, nor was there evidence of actual knowledge of entry. The court affirmed the pre-filing order, finding Glaum to be a vexatious litigant.

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State v. Hartson

Court: North Dakota Supreme Court

Citation: 2024 ND 78

Opinion Date: May 2, 2024

Judge: Jensen

Areas of Law: Criminal Law

The case involves Kevin Hartson, who was charged with felony murder, with the underlying offenses of attempted robbery and attempted felonious restraint. Hartson argued that the charge of felony murder was not legally cognizable due to an inconsistency in the elements of criminal attempt and the elements of the underlying predicate felonies. He contended that the charge of criminal attempt requires the actor to have intended to complete the commission of the underlying crime, while the underlying offenses of robbery and felonious restraint only require the actor to act knowingly. Hartson's motion to dismiss the charge was denied by the district court, which held that any inconsistency could be reconciled by requiring the State to apply intentional culpability to both the attempt and the underlying predicate felonies. Hartson was subsequently found guilty of felony murder by a jury.

On appeal, Hartson reiterated his argument that felony murder based on the predicate offenses of attempted robbery and attempted felonious restraint is not a cognizable offense. He also argued that the district court erred in allowing the State to remove “knowingly” from the charge of felony murder and use only the culpability level of “intentional”. Furthermore, he claimed that the court committed obvious error in instructing the jury by misstating the law and allowing for a verdict without a unanimous jury finding on the predicate felony offense.

The Supreme Court of North Dakota affirmed the lower court's decision. The court held that the district court did not err in modifying the level of culpability from "knowingly" to "intentionally". The court also found that the jury was properly instructed that they could convict Hartson on nothing less than intentional conduct with respect to the predicate felonies. Furthermore, the court concluded that Hartson failed to demonstrate an obvious error with regard to the absence of an instruction on attempt and the requirement of a unanimous decision on the attempted predicate offense. Lastly, the court found that the evidence was sufficient to sustain the conviction.

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State ex rel. Boyd v. Tone

Court: Supreme Court of Ohio

Citation: 2024-Ohio-1703

Opinion Date: May 7, 2024

Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

The case revolves around Deonta Boyd, an inmate at the Richland Correctional Institution, who pleaded guilty in 2006 to aggravated murder with a firearm specification, felonious assault, and aggravated burglary. The trial court accepted Boyd's pleas and sentenced him to life imprisonment with parole eligibility after 41 years. Boyd did not appeal his convictions or sentence but has attempted unsuccessfully to withdraw his guilty pleas multiple times. In March 2023, Boyd filed a complaint for a writ of prohibition, claiming that the trial court violated his rights under the Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and their counterparts in the Ohio Constitution. He alleged that the trial court failed to inform him that he was waiving his constitutional right to compulsory process at the 2006 plea hearing.

The Sixth District Court of Appeals dismissed Boyd's prohibition complaint, holding that Boyd could have challenged any defect in the plea colloquy on direct appeal and that any issue concerning the trial court’s alleged failure to advise him of his right to compulsory process is therefore barred by res judicata. Boyd appealed the dismissal of his complaint.

The Supreme Court of Ohio affirmed the Sixth District Court of Appeals' judgment. The court found that Boyd had adequate remedies in the ordinary course of the law to raise his claim, including a direct appeal, a petition for postconviction relief, and a motion to withdraw his guilty pleas. The court also found that the trial court did not patently and unambiguously lack subject-matter jurisdiction to convict him. Therefore, Boyd was not entitled to a writ of prohibition, and the Sixth District correctly dismissed the prohibition action.

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State ex rel. Salem v. Jones

Court: Supreme Court of Ohio

Citation: 2024-Ohio-1718

Opinion Date: May 8, 2024

Areas of Law: Criminal Law

The case revolves around Fadi Salem, who was convicted of third-degree-misdemeanor sexual imposition in February 2021. As per Ohio law, this conviction classified him as a Tier I sex offender, requiring him to register and report to the sheriff. However, the judgment entry of conviction did not explicitly state this classification. Salem later filed a motion to terminate his Tier I sex-offender classification and registration requirements, arguing that the initial judgment did not impose this classification. The trial court denied this motion and issued a nunc pro tunc judgment entry designating Salem a Tier I sex offender.

Salem appealed the trial court's denial of his motion to the Twelfth District Court of Appeals. The court of appeals upheld the trial court's decision, stating that the trial court had provided Salem with the required notice of his Tier I sex-offender classification and registration requirements during the sentencing hearing. The court also held that the trial court was permitted to issue a nunc pro tunc judgment entry reflecting the imposition of the Tier I classification.

While his appeal was pending, Salem filed a complaint for a writ of mandamus in the court of appeals, asking for a writ compelling the sheriff to enforce the initial judgment without the Tier I sanction. The court of appeals dismissed this complaint, stating that Salem's appeal was an adequate remedy that precluded relief in mandamus.

The Supreme Court of Ohio affirmed the judgment of the Twelfth District Court of Appeals. The court held that Salem's appeal from the trial court's judgment denying his motion to terminate his Tier I sex-offender classification and registration requirements was an adequate remedy. The court also noted that the fact that Salem's appeal was unsuccessful did not render that remedy inadequate.

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State v. Taylor

Court: Supreme Court of Ohio

Citation: 2024-Ohio-1752

Opinion Date: May 9, 2024

Judge: STEWART

Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Juvenile Law

The case involves Damon L. Taylor, who was charged with felony murder in the adult court after the juvenile court found probable cause to believe that Taylor was complicit in a murder. The adult court convicted Taylor of felony murder, but the Tenth District Court of Appeals vacated the conviction, arguing that the adult court lacked jurisdiction to convict Taylor of felony murder as the juvenile court had not found probable cause for that specific offense. The appellate court also ruled that Taylor's statements to the police should have been suppressed as his Sixth Amendment right to counsel had been violated.

The Supreme Court of Ohio disagreed with the appellate court's decision. The Supreme Court held that the adult court did have jurisdiction over the felony-murder charge against Taylor. The court reasoned that the felony-murder charge was rooted in the same acts and events as the complicity-to-commit-murder charge, which was the subject of the juvenile complaint. Therefore, under former R.C. 2151.23(H), the adult court had jurisdiction over the felony-murder charge.

Regarding Taylor's Sixth Amendment right to counsel, the Supreme Court held that this right did not attach until a criminal prosecution had commenced, which occurred after the police interrogated Taylor. Therefore, the state did not violate Taylor's Sixth Amendment right to counsel when it interviewed him in the absence of his attorney. Even if the Sixth Amendment right to counsel had attached, Taylor validly waived it when he relinquished his Fifth Amendment right to counsel after he received the Miranda warnings.

The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Tenth District Court of Appeals and remanded the matter to that court for further proceedings.

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State v. Satter

Court: Oregon Supreme Court

Docket: S069880

Opinion Date: May 9, 2024

Judge: Flynn

Areas of Law: Criminal Law

The case involves a defendant who was found guilty of driving under the influence of intoxicants. After his conviction, the defendant fled the state, delaying his sentencing and the entry of a judgment of conviction for over ten years. Upon his return to Oregon, the trial court imposed a sentence and entered a judgment of conviction, which the defendant appealed. The defendant argued that the trial court erred by failing to caution the jury that a defendant’s decision not to testify cannot be considered evidence of guilt.

The Court of Appeals dismissed the defendant's appeal based on the "former fugitive doctrine," which presumes that an appellate court has inherent authority to dismiss a criminal defendant’s direct appeal if the defendant was formerly a fugitive from justice and the flight significantly interfered with the appellate process. The state argued that the defendant's decade-long absence would prejudice the state in any retrial due to the passage of time and difficulty in locating witnesses.

The Supreme Court of the State of Oregon reversed the decision of the Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court held that while the Court of Appeals may have inherent authority to dismiss an appeal when the defendant's former fugitive status significantly interferes with the appellate process, this authority does not extend to dismissing a direct appeal to address the appellant’s flight from the jurisdiction of the trial court. The Supreme Court concluded that the defendant's former fugitive status did not interfere with the appellate court’s ability to address the merits of the appeal. The court held that concerns about potential prejudice that would arise in the trial court in relation to a retrial are most appropriately left for the trial court to address on any remand.

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State v. Jones

Court: South Carolina Supreme Court

Docket: 28203

Opinion Date: May 8, 2024

Judge: Few

Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

In July 2018, Thomas Jones was observing a traffic stop conducted by two deputies outside his home. Jones interacted with the deputies, asking questions about the stop. The deputies responded by arresting Jones, using a taser in the process. Jones was convicted under a Greenville County ordinance for interfering with a county law enforcement officer. He was sentenced to thirty days in jail and a $1,000 fine, which was suspended upon ten days in jail over weekends and a $500 fine. Jones appealed his conviction, arguing that the ordinance was unconstitutionally applied to him and that the ordinance itself was unconstitutional under the First Amendment and the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution.

Jones's case was transferred to the Supreme Court of South Carolina due to the constitutional challenges he raised. The State conceded that the ordinance was improperly applied to Jones under the specific facts of the case and asked the court to reverse his conviction and sentence. The State also requested that the court not address Jones's broader challenges to the ordinance.

The Supreme Court of South Carolina agreed with the State's position. The court noted that it generally declines to rule on constitutional issues unless necessary and that facial challenges to statutes are disfavored. The court found that Jones's actions of observing and asking questions were constitutionally protected conduct and could not support a conviction under the ordinance. The court was deeply disturbed by the deputies' behavior in this case but declined to go further than necessary in its ruling. The court reversed Jones's conviction on the narrow grounds that the ordinance was unconstitutionally applied to him and reserved judgment on the broader challenges to the ordinance for another case.

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State v. Lanpher

Court: South Dakota Supreme Court

Citation: JR., 2024 S.D. 26

Opinion Date: May 8, 2024

Judge: Kern

Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

The case involves James Joseph Lanpher, Jr., who pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated assault against a law enforcement officer and admitted to being a habitual offender. The charges stemmed from a dangerous high-speed chase during which Lanpher repeatedly fired weapons at pursuing officers. The circuit court sentenced Lanpher to serve two concurrent life sentences to run consecutively to sentences he was already serving for other offenses. Lanpher appealed, claiming his sentence was cruel and unusual in violation of the Eighth Amendment and was an abuse of the circuit court’s discretion.

The case was previously reviewed by the circuit court of the Third Judicial Circuit, Lake County, South Dakota. The court found Lanpher guilty and sentenced him to two concurrent life sentences, to be served consecutively to sentences he was already serving for other offenses.

The Supreme Court of the State of South Dakota reviewed the case and affirmed the decision of the lower court. The court found that Lanpher's sentence did not constitute cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment. The court also found that the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in the imposition of Lanpher’s sentence. The court noted that Lanpher's violent criminal history and demonstrated disregard for human life justified the severity of his sentence.

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Hart v. State of Texas

Court: Texas Court of Criminal Appeals

Docket: PD-0677-22

Opinion Date: May 8, 2024

Judge: McClure

Areas of Law: Criminal Law, Entertainment & Sports Law

The case revolves around the defendant, Larry Jean Hart, who was charged with capital murder while committing or attempting to commit the felony offense of burglary. Hart drove an acquaintance and three other individuals to an apartment complex where they robbed and shot the complainant, Michael Gardner. Hart claimed he remained in the car during the incident and was unaware of the group's intentions. The State argued that Hart knew about the planned crime and should have anticipated the outcome.

The trial court admitted rap videos during the guilt phase of the trial to demonstrate Hart's character and sophistication. Hart objected, arguing that the videos' prejudicial effect outweighed their probative value. The trial court overruled Hart's objections, stating that Hart's testimony opened the door to character witness evidence. The jury found Hart guilty and sentenced him to life without parole.

On appeal, Hart argued that the trial court erred in admitting the rap videos, among other things. The appellate court upheld the trial court's ruling, stating that the rap videos were relevant to Hart's ability to comprehend and form intent regarding the planned crime. The court also conducted a balancing test under Rule 403 and concluded that the trial court's ruling did not constitute a clear abuse of discretion.

The Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas disagreed with the lower courts. It found that the rap videos' probative value was outweighed by their potential for prejudice and confusion. The court reversed the judgment of the appellate court and remanded the case to the trial court for further proceedings.

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Commonwealth v. Garrick

Court: Supreme Court of Virginia

Docket: 230511

Opinion Date: May 9, 2024

Judge: RUSSELL

Areas of Law: Criminal Law

Stephen Lamar Garrick was found asleep in a vehicle with the engine running. Upon waking him, officers noticed signs of intoxication and a faint smell of marijuana. This led to a search of the vehicle, where they found a bag of heroin and a loaded handgun in the glove compartment. Garrick, the sole occupant of the vehicle, stated that his mother owned the car and he drove it three days a week. The glove compartment also contained two receipts for vehicle maintenance, both listing Garrick as the customer. Garrick was convicted of possession of heroin and possession of a firearm by a violent felon.

Garrick appealed his convictions, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to prove possession. The Court of Appeals reversed the convictions, stating that Garrick's occupancy of the vehicle, his proximity to the items, and his admission of driving the vehicle were insufficient to establish constructive possession. The Court of Appeals also noted that the maintenance receipts only served as evidence that Garrick regularly used the car, not that he knew about the heroin and firearm.

The Commonwealth appealed to the Supreme Court of Virginia. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Court of Appeals, stating that the evidence was sufficient to allow a reasonable factfinder to conclude that Garrick was aware of the presence of the heroin and firearm. The court noted that Garrick was the sole occupant of the vehicle, was in close proximity to the items, and had been in the vehicle for a significant period of time. The court also pointed out that the maintenance receipts indicated that Garrick was responsible for the vehicle's upkeep, suggesting that he used the glove compartment where the items were found. The court concluded that the combined circumstances were sufficient to support the conviction.

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State of West Virginia ex rel. State of West Virginia v. Gwaltney

Court: Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia

Docket: 23-155

Opinion Date: May 3, 2024

Judge: BUNN

Areas of Law: Criminal Law, Family Law

The State of West Virginia sought a writ of prohibition to prevent the Circuit Court of Monongalia County from enforcing its order dismissing a six-count indictment against J.L. and D.F., who were charged with crimes relating to child abuse and neglect. The Circuit Court had dismissed the indictment based on its assessment of the evidence presented in a related abuse and neglect proceeding, concluding that no trial jury could convict the parents based on that evidence. The State argued that the Circuit Court had exceeded its legitimate powers by dismissing the indictment.

Previously, the Circuit Court had dismissed the indictment on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence to support it. The court based its decision on its knowledge of the evidence from a related abuse and neglect proceeding, and its opinion regarding the State's likelihood of obtaining convictions by a petit jury.

The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia granted the writ of prohibition. The court found that the Circuit Court had exceeded its legitimate powers by dismissing the indictment based on its improper consideration of evidence in a prior proceeding. The court held that a circuit court may not grant a defendant's pretrial motion to dismiss an indictment on the basis of the sufficiency of the evidence or whether a factual basis for the indictment exists. The court concluded that the State was entitled to the requested writ of prohibition, as the Circuit Court's order was clearly erroneous as a matter of law, and the State would be damaged in a way that was not correctable on appeal.

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