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This case concerns implications of a warrant issued in the Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA), which authorized the FBI to use certain malware to identify and prosecute users of a child pornography website known as "Playpen" that operated on an anonymity network. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's motion to suppress evidence obtained as a result of a warrant, which led to his prosecution for possession of child pornography. The court joined its sister circuits in holding that the good faith exception to the exclusionary rule set out in United States v. Leon, 468 U.S. 897 (1984), applied to save the fruits of the warrant at issue from suppression. View "United States v. Ganzer" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court denying Defendant's motions to suppress evidence and to dismiss his indictment for outrageous government conduct, holding that the district court did not err in its judgment. Defendant was identified as a user of Playpen, an online forum that allowed users to upload, download, and distribute child pornography, and indicted for possession and receipt of child pornography. Defendant moved to suppress evidence resulting from an Network Investigative Technique warrant and also sought to dismiss the indictment on the grounds that the government engaged in outrageous conduct by running Playpen for two weeks after seizing its control. The district court denied the two motions. Defendant subsequently pled guilty to both charges. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the district court correctly denied Defendant's motion to suppress for lack of probable cause; and (2) under the totality of the circumstances, there were no grounds to reverse the district court's denial of Defendant's motion to dismiss the indictment. View "United States v. Anzalone" on Justia Law

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Convicted of bank robbery in 2015, 18 U.S.C. 2113(a), Bonds was sentenced to 60 months’ imprisonment. The evidence against him included the testimony of an FBI Latent Print Operations Unit fingerprint examiner, Glass, that Bonds’s fingerprints appeared on the demand notes used in the robberies. In 2004 the Unit incorrectly identified Mayfield as a person whose fingerprints suggested involvement in a terrorist bombing in Spain. Bonds wanted to use this episode to illustrate the potential for mistakes in the “analysis, comparison, evaluation, and verification” (ACE-V) method. The district judge permitted Bonds to cross-examine Glass about the reliability of the ACE-V method and to present other evidence suggesting that the approach is more error-prone than jurors might believe. Evidence about one particular error, the judge concluded, would be more distracting and time-consuming than its incremental value could justify. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, rejecting a Confrontation Clause argument. Presenting jurors with details of one wrongful imprisonment (especially on a mistaken charge of terrorism) would appeal to emotion rather than to reason. Bonds had ample opportunity to supply the jury with evidence about the reliability of the ACE-V method, including changes made in the last decade. In 2016, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology concluded that changes in ACE-V have bolstered its accuracy. The summary provides the defense bar with paths to cross-examine witnesses who used the ACE-V approach. View "United States v. Bonds" on Justia Law

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The portion of CALCRIM No. 334 that instructs the jury that the burden is on the defendant to prove that it is more likely than not that the witness was an accomplice, should be omitted when the defendant is charged with in concert crimes. The Court of Appeal affirmed defendant's conviction of sexual penetration in concert and rape in concert. The court held that, although the trial court erred by instructing jurors that defendant had to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the government's witness was an accomplice, there was no reasonable likelihood that the jury misapplied it given the circumstances of the case. View "People v. Martinez" on Justia Law

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The Fourth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence imposed after he pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm. The court held that the district court did not procedurally err by applying a two-level sentencing enhancement for recklessly creating a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury to another person in the course of fleeing from a law enforcement officer under USSG 3C1.2. In this case, defendant ignored repeated commands from a police officer to stop running, continued to flee on foot while armed with a loaded weapon, and appeared to be holding or reaching toward his right jacket pocket, where a loaded firearm was later discovered. View "United States v. Dennings" on Justia Law

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The statute of limitations for a criminal defendant's 42 U.S.C. 1983 action is not tolled under California Code of Civil Procedure 356 during the pendency of an appeal from a conviction, in light of the Supreme Court's rule in Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994). In this case, plaintiff filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 after his convictions for possession of a controlled substance and a smoking device were overturned, because the Superior Court erred in denying plaintiff's suppression motion. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment and held that plaintiff's claims for unlawful stop and detention, false arrest, and false imprisonment were time-barred because Heck did not legally prevent plaintiff from commencing those claims during his appeal. Therefore, tolling under section 356 was not triggered. The panel held that plaintiff's malicious prosecution and Monell actions were also barred, because reversal of his conviction was not a favorable termination. View "Mills v. City of Covina" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's order granting defendant's motion for a sentence reduction under 18 U.S.C. 3582(c)(2), in light of Sentencing Guidelines Amendment 782. The panel clarified that, without an explicit and explicit drug quantity finding by the original sentencing judge, drug quantities in an adopted presentencing report were not binding in section 3582(c)(2) proceedings. Therefore, the panel remanded to the district court for supplemental findings of drug quantity and, if appropriate, resentencing. View "United States v. Huaracha Rodriguez" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the district court's grant of judgment on the pleadings to the State on Appellant's claims alleging false imprisonment and negligence, holding that the conditional release imposed under Minn. Stat. 169A.276, subd. 1(d), unambiguously begins when a Challenge Incarceration Program participant enters phase II of the program and begins living in the community. Appellant, a participant in the Challenge Incarceration Program administered by the Department of Corrections, brought this action arguing that the State failed correctly to calculate his conditional-release term and revoked his conditional release improperly after it had already ended. Specifically, Appellant argued that he was "released from prison" within the meaning of section 169A.276, subd. 1(d) when he entered phase II of that program. The district court granted the State's motion for judgment on the pleadings. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the conditional-release term imposed by section 169A.276, subd. 1(d), begins when a participant in the Challenge Incarceration Program begins living in the community. View "Heilman v. Courtney" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction on five counts related to his participation in attacks on United States and coalition forces in Afghanistan while a member of al‐Qaeda. The court held that it was not error to deny a defendant's purported waiver of the right to counsel if, like defendant here, the defendant prevented the court from fulfilling its obligation to ensure that a Sixth Amendment waiver was knowing and intelligent. Furthermore, even if a waiver of counsel was knowing and intelligent, a trial court may deny the right to act pro se where the defendant deliberately engages in serious and obstructionist misconduct, or is not able and willing to abide by rules of procedure and courtroom protocol. In this case, defendant's obstruction was independent support for the denial of his purported waiver of counsel where the misconduct was egregious and intolerable by any measure: he hummed and screamed, and rambled incoherently; he cursed at the judge, declared him an enemy and threatened to kill him. The court also held that defendant's claim that 18 U.S.C. 2332(b)(2), conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals, was rendered domestic by its incorporation of 18 U.S.C. 1111, which penalized murder within the jurisdiction of the Unites States, and that the evidence at trial proved a conspiracy to murder American soldiers only in Afghanistan, was without merit. View "United States v. Hausa" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court reversed the motion judge's allowance of Defendant's motion to suppress, holding that police action causing an individual's cell phone to reveal its real-time location constitutes a search in the constitutional sense under article 14 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights, but, in this case, the warrantless search was supported by probable cause and was reasonable under the exigent circumstances exception to the search warrant requirement. After the police identified Defendant as the suspect in a murder case, the police contacted Defendant's cellular service provider to request the real-time location of Defendant's cell phone. They did so without a warrant. The service provider "pinged" Defendant's cell phone, which caused the cell phone to transmit its real-time GPS coordinates to the service provider. The GPS coordinates were relayed to the police, and the police were able to use that information to locate Defendant. Defendant moved to suppress the evidence as the fruit of an unlawful search. The motion judge allowed the suppression motion. The Supreme Judicial Court reversed, holding that the motion judge erred in concluding that the warrantless ping of Defendant's cell phone was not justified by exigent circumstances. View "Commonwealth v. Almonor" on Justia Law