by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court convicting Defendant of two counts of first-degree child molestation sexual assault, for which Defendant received two concurrent forty-year sentences. On appeal, the Court held that the trial justice did not err by (1) refusing to the testimony of Natalie Kissoon, M.D. in its entirety for lack of foundation; (2) refusing to grant Defendant’s motion to pass the case after Dr. Kissoon testified that the victim’s disclosures were consistent with sexual abuse; and (3) denying Defendant’s motion for a new trial based upon newly discovered evidence. View "State v. Rathbun" on Justia Law

by
The First Circuit affirmed Appellant’s conviction for marriage fraud in violation of 8 U.S.C. 1325(c), which prohibits knowingly entering into a marriage for the purpose of evading the immigration laws, holding that the evidence was sufficient to support the conviction. Specifically, the Court held (1) the evidence presented in this case amply supported the district court’s conclusion that Defendant duped his wife into marrying him in order to avoid deportation; and (2) the trier of fact could reasonably have concluded that Defendant harbored no intent to establish a life with his wife and instead married her solely to avoid deportation. View "United States v. Akanni" on Justia Law

by
The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s sentence of eighty-four months in prison, followed by five years of supervised release, imposed in connection with Defendant’s straight guilty plea to conspiracy to possess cocaine with the intent to distribute. On appeal, the First Circuit held (1) at sentencing, the government did not mislead the district court as to one of Defendant’s co-defendants who had pleaded guilty pursuant to a negotiated plea agreement; (2) the quantity of cocaine attributable to Defendant was amply supported and unflawed by material error; and (3) Defendant’s argument that district court refused to consider the grand jury testimony cited in Defendant’s sentencing memorandum failed because the district court did consider the information. View "United States v. Flores-Carter" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court denied the writ of prohibition sought by Scott Smith, Prosecuting Attorney for Ohio County, against the Honorable David J. Sims, Judge of the Circuit Court of Ohio County, seeking to prevent the trial court from enforcing its order vacating Dallas Michael Acoff’s convictions for second-degree murder and malicious wounding and granting a new trial based on newly discovered evidence. Petitioner argued as grounds for the writ that the trial court erred in finding that Acoff was diligent in his efforts to secure the trial attendance of Banks, the eyewitness to the homicide who did not testify at trial, and that Banks’ subsequently offered testimony exonerating Defendant would have produced a different outcome at trial. The Supreme Court denied the writ, holding that the decision to grant a new trial based on newly discovered evidence was within the sound discretion of the trial court. View "State ex rel. Smith v. Honorable David J. Sims" on Justia Law

by
Meza, with his girlfriend as a passenger was driving at least 90 mph. As he applied the brakes, he lost control. The car catapulted across the median and oncoming traffic and fell down an embankment. A California Highway Patrol sergeant saw the crash and saw Meza emerge from the driver’s side of the car. Concord police officers arrived. Officer Cruz had a brief conversation with Meza while Meza was waiting for treatment by emergency medical personnel. She noted “a moderate odor of alcoholic beverage coming from his mouth,” and blood-shot and watery eyes. Because Meza was complaining of pain, Cruz did not request field sobriety tests. She concluded that he should be arrested for driving under the influence and followed the ambulance to the hospital. The hospital drew blood, as they do for all trauma patients, and measured Meza’s blood alcohol content (BAC) at 0.148 percent. Two hours after the accident, a second phlebotomist, summoned by Cruz, drew Meza’s blood and measured its BAC at 0.11. Cruz never attempted to get a warrant because Meza did not refuse to have his blood drawn. The court of appeal affirmed the denial of a motion to suppress. The blood draw was inconsistent with the Fourth Amendment because exigent circumstances did not prevent officers from obtaining a warrant but the error was harmless, in light of the evidence of the hospital’s testing. View "People v. Meza" on Justia Law

by
Hall was charged with first-degree murder; the information alleged that Hall personally used a knife in the commission of the crime, that he had prior serious felony convictions, and that he was subject to the three strikes law. Hall admitted to a 2010 misdemeanor conviction for carrying a concealed knife. Before trial, the court reserved judgment on the prosecutor’s motion seeking to impeach defendant with his two first-degree burglary convictions and with the misdemeanor conviction “evidence that he is known to regularly carry knives” if Hall were to “open the door” during his testimony. After the prosecution rested, the court held that both felony convictions could be used to impeach Hall, that under Evidence Code 352 the misdemeanor knife conviction was a crime of moral turpitude, and that the knife conviction could be introduced because of Hall’s statement to the police that he was a peaceful person. The court of appeal reversed. Hall did not put his character for peacefulness at issue. Nothing in his testimony opened the door to impeachment about his character or truthfulness about his character. Hall’s testimony admitted he had lied to the police because he was afraid of retribution; he did not claim to be a peaceful person and did not claim to lack violent prior convictions. View "People v. Hall" on Justia Law

by
A jury found Kerley guilty of second-degree murder in connection with the death of his former girlfriend. The court sentenced Kerley to 15 years to life in state prison. The court of appeal affirmed, rejecting arguments that there was insufficient evidence for the jury to conclude that the death was a homicide; the trial court erred in admitting evidence of Kerley’s prior acts of domestic violence under Evidence Code section 11093; the jury instructions regarding the evidence of uncharged domestic violence impermissibly lowered the prosecution’s burden of proof; the admission of certain hearsay statements of the deceased violated Kerley’s confrontation clause rights; the trial court erred in admitting certain hearsay statements of the deceased and defense counsel was ineffective in failing to request a limiting instruction with respect to those statements; the evidence was insufficient to support the jury instructions regarding suppression of evidence; the trial court erred in admitting diary entries of Kerley’s daughter and in admitting evidence that Kerley destroyed a tanning bed and buried the remains of his dog in his backyard; the trial court erred in excluding Kerley’s proffered evidence of third party culpability; and that the cumulative effect of the alleged errors required reversal. View "People v. Kerley" on Justia Law

by
Defendant’s rights under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and article 2, section 8 of the Arizona Constitution were not violated when law enforcement officers followed Defendant’s vehicle onto a private driveway to complete a traffic stop that began on a public road. Defendant was found guilty of possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, and transporting methamphetamine for sale. Defendant appealed the trial court’s denial of his motion to suppress evidence seized from him and his vehicle. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Constitution does not protect a driver that declines to stop on a public road and retreats onto private property; and (2) the officers’ actions in this case comported with Fourth Amendment standards because Defendant impliedly consented to the location of the stop where he led the officers in his vehicle. View "State v. Hernandez" on Justia Law

by
Nicandro Galaviz was committed to a state mental health institution for a term of 60 years to life after he was found not guilty by reason of insanity of possession of methamphetamine and assault with a deadly weapon. In July 2017, Galaviz filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus challenging the commitment order. Galaviz previously filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus with the trial court. After holding an evidentiary hearing, the court referred to the hearing as something “akin to a retrospective competency hearing” and denied Galaviz’s petition on the ground Galaviz failed to prove he was incompetent at the time of trial. The petition for a writ of habeas corpus filed with the Court of Appeal was granted; the Court found the trial court erred in 1996 by failing to hold a hearing to determine Galaviz’s competence at the time of trial. "Reports filed by mental health professionals in the months preceding trial raised serious doubt about Galaviz’s competence to stand trial. This error constitutes reversible error unless it is feasible to conduct a retrospective competency hearing to now determine whether Galaviz had been competent to stand trial in 1996. The prosecution failed to carry its burden of showing that conducting such a retrospective competency hearing is feasible based on a totality of the circumstances in this case." View "In re Galaviz" on Justia Law

by
The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence after he pleaded guilty to two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition. The court held that the district court did not err by imposing sentencing enhancements under USSG 2K2.1(b)(1)(A) for three or more firearms, USSG 3B1.4 for use of a child in the commission of the offense; and USSG 2K2.1(B)(6)(b) for committing the firearm offense in connection with another felony; defendant waived his argument that the district court abused its discretion in granting the government's request to continue; even if subject to plain error review, the district court did not abuse its discretion, much less commit plain error, in granting the government's motion for a short continuance to secure the attendance of an important witness; the district court did not err by calculating defendant's base offense level as his prior conviction for assault while displaying a dangerous weapon in violation of Iowa Code Sections 708.1 and 708.2(3) was a crime of violence resulting in a base offense level of 22 under Guidelines Sec. 2K2.1(a)(3); and even if there was error, the error was harmless. View "United States v. McGee" on Justia Law