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Castillero was charged with serious sexual offenses that occurred when he was 14-15 years old. The juvenile court found him unfit for juvenile adjudication and transferred the matter to a court of criminal jurisdiction. In adult/criminal court, Castillero pleaded guilty to four crimes and agreed to serve 40 years in prison. Before sentencing, the trial court denied Castillero’s request for transfer back to juvenile court for a hearing under the procedures set out in Proposition 57, which took effect in November 2016, after Castillero’s original juvenile court hearing. The court of appeal vacated. Proposition 57 significantly amended Welfare and Institutions Code sections 602 and 707. Now, if a prosecutor wishes to try an accused minor as an adult, the prosecutor must file a motion in the juvenile court requesting a transfer to adult/criminal court. The juvenile court must conduct a “transfer hearing.” Under prior law, the juvenile court was bound by a rebuttable presumption that the defendant was not fit for the juvenile court system; under current law, there is no such presumption. In a transfer hearing under current law, the court must consider five factors but has broad discretion in weighing them. The court noted that, because of Castillero’s age, two of the charges against him are not subject to transfer. View "People v. Castillero" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of Defendant's motion to dismiss and motion to suppress, which Defendant filed before he was convicted of legal reentry after removal from the United States, holding that the district court did not err in not dismissing Defendant's indictment for delay in presentment or in not suppressing information that law enforcement had gathered about Defendant, including his identity. Defendant was a passenger in a van that was stopped for seatbelt violations. A Maine State Trooper who conducted the stop contacted an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officer for help identifying the passengers, several of whom did not appear to speak English. When he was asked for his identification, Defendant produced a consular ID card. ICE officers ran the card through ICE databases and determined that Defendant was suspected of illegal reentry. Defendant was subsequently convicted of illegally entering the United States after removal. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) because Defendant made his initial appearance just as the criminal process was initiated, there was no unnecessary delay before his initial appearance and so no violation of Fed. R. Crim. P. 5(a); and (2) the district court properly denied Defendant's motion to suppress. View "United States v. Garcia-Zavala" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant's conviction of conspiracy to deprive a person of civil rights and sentence of eighty-seven months in prison, holding that the evidence was sufficient to sustain Defendant's conviction and that there was no other reversible error. Specifically, the Court held (1) the district court did not err in denying Defendant's motions for judgment of acquittal based on the insufficiency of the evidence; (2) the district court properly admitted testimony of two government witnesses under Fed. R. Evid. 404(b); (3) the district court did not violate Defendant's rights under the Sixth Amendment's Compulsory Process Clause or the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause; (4) the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying Defendant's second motion for a new trial based on newly discovered evidence; and (5) Defendant's sentence was procedurally reasonable. View "United States v. Martinez-Mercado" on Justia Law

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Defendant-appellant John Walker pled guilty to two counts of bank robbery and was originally sentenced to time served (33 days in pretrial detention, and three years of supervised release). The government appealed, and the Tenth Circuit reversed the sentence as substantively unreasonable. The matter was remanded for resentencing, and a second sentencing hearing resulted in ten years’ probation, two years of home confinement, and 500 hours of community service. The government appealed again. The issues presented for the Tenth Circuit on re-review were: (1) whether the district court violated the mandate issued in the first case; and (2) whether, even if the district court complied with the Tenth Circuit’s mandate, Walker’s sentence following remand nevertheless remained substantively unreasonable. The government also requested, in the event that the sentence was reversed and remanded, that it be reassigned to a different district court judge. Because the Tenth Circuit concluded the district court did not run afoul of Walker I’s mandate when it declined to sentence Walker to a prison term, and further concluded the government waived its remaining substantive reasonableness challenge, the Court affirmed the district court’s sentence. View "United States v. Walker" on Justia Law

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Petitioner Benjamin Roina was charged with harassment and assault on an at-risk adult. At his preliminary hearing, Roina’s defense counsel filed a sealed motion with the trial court contesting his competency and requested that the court order a competency evaluation. Defense counsel provided notice of the motion to the prosecution but did not provide the prosecution with a copy of the motion. The trial court refused to review the sealed motion unless defense counsel provided the prosecution with a copy. In its written order, the trial court explained that engaging in an ex parte communication with the defense would contravene Rule 2.9(A) of the Colorado Code of Judicial Conduct, which prohibited communications made to the judge outside the presence of the parties or their lawyers unless, as relevant here, expressly authorized by law. The court further concluded that section 16-8.5-102(2)(b) was ambiguous as to whether ex parte review of defense counsel’s motion would be permitted. The issue this case presented for the Colorado Supreme Court’s review centered on whether the trial court erred by declining to review the defense’s sealed motion. The Court ruled that it did: “Although Rule 2.9(A) of the Colorado Code of Judicial Conduct generally prohibits judges from considering communications that are shared with only one party in a pending matter, this type of ex parte communication is permitted when expressly authorized by law. Because section 16-8.5-102(2)(b), C.R.S. (2018), requires the trial court to consider defense counsel’s motion raising competency without disclosing that motion to the prosecution.” The case was remanded back to the trial court for further proceedings. View "In re Colorado v. Roina" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence as a career offender after he pleaded guilty to one count of possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute. The court held that defendant's prior Louisiana drug conviction qualified as a predicate conviction for career offender sentencing under USSC 4B1.1(a). On this record, the court held that it was no more likely that defendant was convicted of simple possession of cocaine than it was he was convicted of possession with intent to distribute. The court also held that the district court's failure to inquire into the Louisiana conviction was clearly or obviously wrong in the absence of controlling precedent requiring district courts to sua sponte confirm the accuracy of the PSR's description of the defendant's prior convictions. View "United States v. Benton" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's sentence for two counts of second-degree murder and two counts of mutilation of dead human bodies, holding that the State did not breach the plea agreement when it recommended the agreed-upon sentence but made negative comments about Defendant's conduct. Defendant pleaded no contest to the crimes for which he was convicted as part of a plea agreement. The district court accepted the pleas but rejected the agreement's joint sentencing recommendation. On appeal, Defendant argued that the State violated the plea agreement by commenting on the evidence. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the State did not breach its plea agreement with Defendant by commenting on the evidence. View "Montano v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Appellate Court concluding that the improper exclusion of P's testimony during the underlying criminal proceedings was not harmless, holding that the testimony was necessary for the jury to assess the complainant's credibility, and therefore, the exclusion of P's testimony was not harmless. Defendant was charged with sexual assault in the second degree and two counts of risk of injury to a child. The trial court precluded Defendant from calling P, the complainant's longtime boyfriend, as a witness regarding his observations of certain aspects of the complainant's behavior that the State's expert witness had testified were commonly exhibited by child victims of sexual assault. The Appellate Court reversed, holding that P's testimony was improperly excluded because it was relevant to the issue of whether the complainant had exhibited behaviors associated with some sexual assault victims, which had a clear and direct bearing on the central issue in this case - whether the complainant had been sexually assaulted by Defendant. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the improper exclusion of P's testimony was not harmless. View "State v. Fernando V." on Justia Law

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Defendant Bernard Rougeau appealed a trial court’s requirement that he post $100,000 cash or surety bond to mitigate any potential risk that he flee from prosecution. He was being held in custody for failure to post bail while he awaited trial on three counts: aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer by threatening with a deadly weapon, and interference with access to emergency services. In October 2018, defendant’s sister telephoned the state police to report that defendant was suicidal and had cut himself. The police arrived at the home and an officer located defendant outside, emerging from the surrounding woods, armed. According to the affidavit of probable cause, the officer warned him to drop the weapon, yet defendant advanced toward the officer, still holding the gun. Then defendant raised the firearm. In that moment, according to the affidavit, the officer shot defendant in the abdomen. Defendant was taken into custody and airlifted to Albany Medical Center to treat his wounds. In November 2018, he waived extradition from New York and was arraigned in Vermont on the above-three counts. The State argued that defendant’s charges involved a “mental health break,” threats of self-harm, and a firearm. Moreover, “an individual who flees into the woods with a firearm, indicating to his mother that he wants to be shot by the police, poses a significant risk of flight.” The State also recounted defendant’s criminal history, which involved felony convictions for arson, DUI III, multiple contempt-of-court convictions, and a failure to appear. The trial court concluded defendant posed a flight risk, and set bail based on his criminal record, the seriousness of the offenses, and the nature and circumstances of those offenses. On appeal, defendant challenged the imposition of bail and the amount of bail imposed. Finding no reversible error or abuse of discretion, the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed. View "Vermont v. Rougeau" on Justia Law

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Defendant Mark Bergquist appealed after a jury convicted him of sexually assaulting his seven-year-old daughter, A.B. On appeal, defendant raised multiple arguments challenging the trial court’s: (1) admission of A.B.’s out-of-court statements pursuant to Vermont Rule of Evidence 804a; (2) exclusion of certain evidence concerning A.B.’s mother’s state of mind and conduct; (3) ruling allowing A.B. to testify out of defendant’s presence pursuant to Vermont Rule of Evidence 807(f); (4) denial of discovery of some of A.B.’s mental-health records; and (5) admission of expert testimony that he argues improperly “vouched” for A.B.’s credibility. Finding no reversible error, the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed defendant's conviction. View "Vermont v. Bergquist" on Justia Law