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The sexual abuse of Jane occurred for two years ending in 1994 when she was 13. At the time of the offenses, the statute of limitations was six years. An extension allowed the filing of a criminal complaint within one year of a report to a law enforcement agency by a person alleging he was the victim of such an offense while under 18 years of age if the offense involved substantial sexual conduct and there is independent corroborating evidence, Penal Code 803(f). Jane’s mother had attempted to report the abuse to the police and Child Protective Services in 1994, without results. Jane, as an adult, reported Brown’s conduct in December 2012; he was charged in February 2013. Convicted of continuous sexual abuse of a child under the age of 14 years old and eight counts of lewd acts upon a child under the age of 14 years, Brown argued the prosecution was time-barred. The court of appeal affirmed, holding that a report of sexual abuse made to law enforcement by a person or agency other than the victim does not constitute a report by the victim under former section 803(g), even if that report is based on the victim’s allegations of abuse. View "People v. Brown" on Justia Law

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A second-in-time collateral claim based on a newly revealed actionable Brady violation is not second-or-successive for purposes of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act. Consequently, such a claim is cognizable, regardless of whether it meets AEDPA's second-or-successive gatekeeping criteria. The Eleventh Circuit urged the district court to rehear this case en banc in order to reevaluate the framework in Tompkins v. Secretary, Department of Corrections, 557 F.3d 1257 (11th Cir. 2009). The court in Tompkins held that a second-in-time collateral motion based on a newly revealed Brady violation is not cognizable if it does not satisfy one of AEDPA's gatekeeping criteria for second-or-successive motions. The court explained that Tompkins was indistinguishable from the facts and law in this case, but Tompkins was fatally flawed and the rule established in Tompkins eliminated the sole fair opportunity for petitioners to obtain relief. Because the court was bound by Tompkins, the court held that petitioner's 2011 motion was second or successive under 28 U.S.C. 2255(h). View "Scott v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of habeas relief to a petitioner that was convicted of aggravated rape of a child under the age of thirteen. The court held that clearly established Supreme Court precedent demanded proof that the prosecution made knowing use of perjured testimony to establish a constitutional violation. In this case, the district court found no evidence to suggest that the State, or anyone else, knew that the victim was offering false testimony at trial. Therefore, the Louisiana Supreme Court decision denying relief was neither contrary to, nor involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Supreme Court precedent. View "Pierre v. Vannoy" on Justia Law

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Ariz. Rev. Stat. 15-108(A), which makes it unlawful for a person, including a qualified Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA) cardholder, to possess or use marijuana on the campus of any public university, college, community college or postsecondary educational institution, violates Arizona’s Voter Protection Act (VPA) with respect to AMMA-compliant marijuana possession or use. Defendant, an AMMA cardholder, was convicted ofpossessing marijuana in his dormitory on the campus of Arizona State University. The Supreme Court vacated the conviction, holding (1) section 15-108(A) is unconstitutional under the VPA because the statute amends the AMMA by re-criminalizing AMMA cardholders’ marijuana possession on public college and university campuses; and (2) therefore, the statute is unconstitutional as applied to Defendant. View "State v. Maestas" on Justia Law

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Groce faced nine counts: three for sex trafficking; conspiracy to engage in interstate transportation for prostitution; interstate transportation for prostitution; maintaining a drug house; using or carrying a firearm in maintaining the drug house; attempted sex trafficking; and witness retaliation. The jury heard evidence he abused and coerced two women to cause them to prostitute involuntarily. He preyed on their drug addictions and other vulnerabilities, manipulated debts, and physically abused or threatened them and caused a third woman to prostitute involuntarily. He was convicted on all but Count 8, and sentenced to 25 years in prison. The Seventh Circuit vacated the witness retaliation convictions after the government conceded that the jury instruction failed to state a particular unsupported element. The court affirmed the sex trafficking convictions, rejecting Groce’s arguments that the trial court erred by excluding evidence of the victims’ alleged prostitution histories; barring cross-examination of a victim on her alleged prostitution history after she testified she had no such history; issuing an instruction lowering the mens rea (reckless disregard) required for sex trafficking; admitting prejudicial evidence of uncharged sex trafficking. View "United States v. Groce" on Justia Law

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Petitioner, J.N., 17 years old at the time of the alleged offenses, was charged with murder. The evidence presented at the hearing in juvenile court established he did not kill anyone. The murder was committed while J.N. and two other minors, including the killer, were tagging (making graffiti) in a rival gang’s claimed territory. The killing occurred when the three minors were surprised by an adult rival gang member. The rival approached S.C., who pulled out a gun to scare the man. Undeterred, the man grabbed the gun in S.C.’s hand and a struggle ensued. Shots were fired as they wrestled over the gun. J.N. and the other minor stood frozen nearby. After the passage of Proposition 57, the Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016, the superior court suspended criminal proceedings and certified J.N. to the juvenile court to determine whether he should be treated in the juvenile court system or prosecuted as an adult. The juvenile court determined J.N. was not suitable for treatment in the juvenile court. J.N. filed a petition for a writ of mandate/prohibition, arguing the court abused its discretion in applying Welfare and Institutions Code section 707. The Court of Appeal determined a trial court must consider five statutory factors in making its decision whether the minor should be tried as an adult. Relevant here were two : (1) the circumstances and gravity of the charged offense; and (2) whether the minor could be rehabilitated prior to the expiration of the juvenile court’s jurisdiction. The Court of Appeal found the juvenile court’s determination J.N. was not suitable for treatment in the juvenile court was not supported by substantial evidence and was, therefore, an abuse of discretion. View "J.N. v. Superior Court" on Justia Law

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After Peter Balov was arrested for suspected drunk driving, the arresting officer advised Balov "that per California law he was required to submit to a chemical test, either a breath or a blood test." Balov did not object and chose a blood test, which showed his blood alcohol level was above the legal limit. Balov was charged with misdemeanor driving under the influence. Before trial, Balov moved to suppress the results of the blood test, arguing primarily that his consent to the test was coerced. The court denied the motion, the appellate division affirmed. Balov brought the same argument to the Court of Appeal, which found no error in the lower court's judgment, and affirmed. View "California v. Balov" on Justia Law

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The Fourth Amendment permits forensic searches of electronic devices at the border without suspicion. Defendant appealed the denial of his motions to suppress the child pornography found on electronic devices that he carried with him when he entered the country and the fruit of later searches. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the judgment, holding that precedents about border searches of property make clear that no suspicion was necessary to search electronic devices at the border. In the alternative, the court held that the border agents had reasonable suspicion to search defendant's electronic devices. View "United States v. Touset" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for unlawful procurement of naturalization because he concealed from immigration authorities his past as a guard at a Serbian prison camp. The court held that the district court did not err when it prevented defendant from presenting hearsay statements of foreign witnesses who were unavailable to testify at trial; defendant failed to demonstrate that his constitutional right to present a complete defense was violated under Chambers v. Mississippi, 410 U.S. 284 (1973); assuming arguendo that the Geneva Convention could be judicially noticed, the district court did not err in determining that its probative value was substantially outweighed by the possibility of confusing the issues and potentially misleading the jury; and the district court did not violate defendant's rights under Chambers when it declined to take judicial notice. View "United States v. Mitrovic" on Justia Law

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Appellant Jose Oliva was charged by information with DWI. The information contained two paragraphs: the first alleged the commission of the current DWI, and the second alleged a prior DWI conviction. The focus of the guilt stage of trial was solely on the first paragraph. The prior-conviction allegation was not read to the jury at the guilt stage, no evidence of the prior conviction was offered at the guilt stage, and there was no mention of a prior conviction in the guilt-stage jury instructions. Appellant was found guilty. At the punishment stage, the State read the prior-conviction allegation to the jury and introduced evidence of a prior DWI conviction. The jury found the prior-conviction allegation to be true and assessed punishment at 180 days’ confinement. The judgment labeled Appellant’s current conviction as a “DWI 2ND” and the degree of offense as a “Class A Misdemeanor.” The court of appeals held that the existence of a prior conviction was an element of the offense of “Class A misdemeanor DWI.” The court reasoned that a fact that elevates the degree of an offense is necessarily an element of the offense and that Penal Code Section 49.09 lacked the “shall be punished” language present in other statutes containing punishment enhancements. Because no evidence of a prior conviction was introduced at the guilt stage of trial, the court of appeals held that the evidence was legally insufficient to support the prior-conviction allegation. Consequently, the court of appeals reversed and remanded the case to the trial court with instructions to reform the judgment to reflect a conviction for Class B misdemeanor DWI and to conduct a new punishment hearing. Under Penal Code section 49.09(b), the existence of two prior convictions for DWI elevated a third DWI from a Class B misdemeanor to a third degree felony. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals addressed the status of section 49.09(a), which provided that the existence of a single prior conviction elevated a second DWI offense from a Class B misdemeanor to a Class A misdemeanor. The Court held in this case that, unlike the existence of two prior convictions for felony DWI, the existence of a single prior conviction for misdemeanor DWI was a punishment issue; the litigation of the prior-conviction allegation at the punishment stage of trial was proper. The Court reversed the court of appeals and affirmed the judgment of the trial court. View "Oliva v. Texas" on Justia Law