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The Vermont Supreme Court withdrew its July 6, 2018 opinion in this matter, determining the State did not have a statutory right to appeal in this case. Defendant Liana Roy was charged with custodial interference for taking her four-year-old daughter, who was then in custody of the Department for Children and Families (DCF), on a two-day trip out of the state without DCF’s permission. After the State rested its evidence at trial, defendant moved for a judgment of acquittal, arguing the evidence failed to demonstrate that she interfered with DCF’s custody to the degree necessary for 13 V.S.A.2451 to apply. At most, defendant argued, this was just “a visit gone bad.” The court denied this motion, holding that the State established the essential elements of its case. After defendant presented her evidence and the State called a rebuttal witness, the State rested and defendant renewed her motion for a judgment of acquittal. The court again denied the motion. The jury convicted. Defendant subsequently moved to set aside the verdict, V.R.Cr.P. 29(c), or for a new trial, V.R.Cr.P. 33, arguing that nothing in the custody order specifically put defendant on notice that she was acting in violation of the authority of the legal custodian, so the State had failed to demonstrate the requisite intent to deprive or interfere with DCF’s custody. The trial court agreed and issued a written decision in July 2017 granting defendant’s motion for a judgment of acquittal. The court noted that “the jury’s verdict was reasonable” based on the instructions given during the trial. But the court explained that it had erred in not instructing the jury that, to prove custodial interference when DCF is the custodian, the State must produce evidence of “a court order . . . detail[ing] the parent-child contact parameters.” In this amended opinion, the Supreme Court considered whether the State had a statutory right to appeal the trial court’s post-guilty-verdict judgment of acquittal, and, if not, whether the Supreme Court should use its authority pursuant to Vermont Rule of Appellate Procedure 21 to grant the State the extraordinary remedy of reversing the trial court’s ruling and reinstating the guilty verdict. The Court concluded the State did not have a statutory right to appeal in this case, and declined to exercise its authority to grant extraordinary relief. View "Vermont v. Roy" on Justia Law

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During a drug deal, Bishop was pepper sprayed by his customer and shot her. He was convicted of discharging a firearm during a drug transaction, 18 U.S.C. 924(c). He argued that the warrant authorizing a search of his cell phone violated the Fourth Amendment’s requirement that every warrant “particularly describ[e] the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized” by describing the “place to be searched” as the cell phone Bishop carried during the attempted sale, and describing the things to be seized as: any evidence (including all photos, videos, and/or any other digital files, including removable memory cards) of suspect identity, motive, scheme/plan along with DNA evidence of the crime of Criminal Recklessness with a deadly weapon which is hidden or secreted [in the cellphone or] related to the offense of Dealing illegal drugs. The Seventh Circuit upheld the denial of Bishop’s motion to suppress. While the warrant permitted the police to look at every file on the phone and decide which files satisfied the description, the warrant was not too general. It is enough if the warrant confines the things being looked for by stating what crime is under investigation. A warrant need not be more specific than knowledge allows. View "United States v. Bishop" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals vacating the judgment entered by the trial court convicting Defendant of possession of a firearm by a felon and having attained habitual felon status on the grounds that the trial court erred in instructing the jury that it could convict Defendant based upon a constructive possession theory that lacked sufficient evidentiary support. The Supreme Court held that the court of appeals erred by holding (1) challenges to jury instructions allowing juries to convict criminal defendants on the basis of legal theories that lack evidentiary support are not subject to harmless error analysis, and (2) even if such a harmlessness analysis were appropriate, there was a reasonable possibility that the outcome at Defendant’s trial would have been different had the trial court refrained from allowing the jury to convict Defendant on the basis of a constructive possession theory. Specifically, the Court held that there was not a reasonable possibility that, in the absence of the erroneous constructive possession instruction, the jury would have acquitted Defendant. View "State v. Malachi" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court modified and affirmed the decision of the court of appeals finding no error in Defendant’s convictions and sentences. The Court of Appeals held that Defendant waived her sentencing arguments because Defendant failed to voice any objection to her sentence or the sentencing proceedings in the trial court. The Supreme Court affirmed as modified, holding (1) Defendant waived her Eighth Amendment arguments by failing to raise them before the sentencing court; (2) Defendant’s nonconstitutional sentencing issues were preserved for appellate review by statute despite her failure to lodge a contemporaneous objection but were nonetheless meritless; and (3) discretionary review was improvidently granted as to Defendant’s ineffective assistance claim. View "State v. Meadows" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Court of Appeals upholding Defendant’s conviction for attempted murder, holding that Defendant’s motion to dismiss was improperly denied. A jury found Defendant guilty of attempted first-degree murder and solicitation to commit first-degree murder. The Court of Appeals concluded that the trial court did not err in denying Defendant’s motion to dismiss the attempted murder charge because there was “sufficient evidence of an overt act to permit the case to go to the jury.” The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the Court of Appeals’ reliance upon cases from other jurisdictions, all of which had statutory frameworks different from this Court’s, provided inadequate support for its decision; and (2) the evidence did not show an “overt act” amounting to attempt as defined by North Carolina law. View "State v. Melton" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part the district court’s order suppressing drug-related evidence seized during a residential search supported by a warrant, holding that the affidavit facts provided a substantial basis for the issuing judge’s determination that there was a fair probability that evidence of illegal marijuana possession would be found in the home. Specifically, the Court held (1) Miranda warnings were required before Defendant made incriminating statements used to support the warrant, and therefore, the incriminating statements were properly suppressed where the warnings were not given before the statements were made; but (2) the officer’s testimony that he executed the smell of raw marijuana coming from the residence provided the probable cause for the search warrant. View "State v. Regelman" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions of possession of cocaine, fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer, and related offenses, holding primarily that the trial court did not err in refusing to suppress drug evidence found in Defendant’s vehicle after a police officer’s warrantless search. Specifically, the Court held (1) the initial seizure of Defendant’s person did not violate his Fourth Amendment rights, and his extended holding in the police car did not make his seizure illegal; (2) even if there were an initial vehicle seizure when pulling Defendant over to effect his arrest, that seizure ended when Defendant parked the car, got out, locked it, and stated he would not consent to its search; and (3) the evidence was sufficient to support Defendant’s fleeing conviction. View "State v. Parker" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s misdemeanor convictions of possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia, holding that the totality of the circumstances surrounding a police officer’s detection of the smell of raw marijuana emanating from a residence can supply probable cause to believe that the residence contains contraband or evidence of a crime. On appeal, Defendant argued that his motion to suppress should have been granted because police officers’ warrantless entry into his residence, purportedly for officer safety and to prevent evidence destruction, violated the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. The court of appeals affirmed but stopped short of finding that the odor of marijuana would have provided probable cause for officers to conduct a search of Defendant’s apartment because that search occurred after a warrant was issued. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) probable cause plus the exigent circumstances exception permitted the initial warrantless entry into Defendant’s apartment for a security sweep; and (2) to the extent the drug paraphernalia evidence and the search warrant were fruits of a warrantless search, the sweep was not illegal and the challenged evidence was not subject to exclusion. View "State v. Hubbard" on Justia Law

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Defendant Jeffrey Keenan appealed his conviction for driving a motor vehicle while his vehicle registration privileges were suspended. Because defendant’s conviction was based upon his lawful operation of a vehicle owned and registered to his son, the New Hampshire Supreme Court reversed. “The State’s interpretation would also prohibit this same individual from renting and operating a vehicle owned, properly registered, and insured by a car rental agency. Indeed, this interpretation equates the suspension of an individual’s registration privileges with a suspension of his or her driving privileges, despite the fact that these two privileges are distinct and are governed by separate statutes. We do not find that these results are either logical or just.” View "New Hampshire v. Keenan" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions and sentences for first degree murder, use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony, and possession of a deadly weapon by a prohibited person but modified the sentencing order to reflect additional credit for time served, holding that no prejudicial error occurred with respect to Defendant’s convictions but that the district court erred when it did not give Defendant credit for ninety-one days of time served in Wyoming. Specifically, the Court held (1) Defendant’s assignments of error related to instructions that the court gave or refused to give were unavailing; (2) there was sufficient evidence to support Defendant’s conviction for first degree murder; and (3) while the court did not impose excessive sentences, it did fail to give Defendant adequate credit for time served. View "State v. Mueller" on Justia Law