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In1998, police responded to a call at Hayslip’s apartment, where Hayslip’s boyfriend, Cain, was arguing with Thompson, Hayslip’s ex-boyfriend. They let Thompson leave. Three hours later, Thompson returned and shot Cain, killing him. Thompson shot Hayslip in the face, threw the gun into a creek, and went to Zernia's house. Hayslip died days later. Thompson later described the shootings to Zernia, then called his father, who took him to the police. In detention, Thompson talked with inmates Reid and Humphrey, about arranging for Zernia’s death using the Hayslip murder weapon Thompson drew a map of the weapon’s location, and asked Reid to pass the information to a contact. Reid relayed the information to the police. Divers were unable to locate the gun. Although Thompson’s right to counsel had attached, officers instructed Reid to tell Thompson his contact had been unable to find the weapon, and would visit for better directions. Posing as Reid’s outside contact, Investigator Johnson visited Thompson and recorded their conversation. Thompson offered Johnson $1,500 to retrieve the weapon and murder Zernia. The police then recovered the gun. Thompson later spoke with inmate Rhodes, to solicit the murder of witnesses. Thompson was convicted of capital murder; the court imposed the death penalty. After direct appeal and collateral review in Texas state court, he unsuccessfully sought federal habeas corpus relief. The Fifth Circuit grant a Certificate of Appealability on whether Thompson has established a Brady violation in the state’s nondisclosure of its past relationship with Rhodes and whether the introduction of Rhodes’s testimony constituted a “Massiah” violation, which requires determination of whether the informant was promised, reasonably led to believe, or actually received a benefit in exchange for soliciting information from the defendant and whether he acted pursuant to state instructions or otherwise submitted to the state’s control. View "Thompson v. Davis" on Justia Law

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Dispatchers received calls about a man on a rural street, shooting a pistol and yelling “everyone’s going to get theirs.” Dispatchers relayed descriptions of a black male wearing a brown shirt. Officers arrived and observed a suspect matching that description, who fired at them, then disappeared into the trees. The suspect re-appeared 100-500 yards away. The officers advanced but again lost sight of the suspect. They began ordering him to drop his weapon and come out. After a few minutes, the officers spotted a figure on a bicycle, wearing a blue jacket, not a brown shirt, over 100 yards away. All of the officers claim the rider was armed. The rider was Gabriel, not the suspect. His father, Henry, claims that Gabriel was “unarmed” and did not move his hands in any way that might have suggested that he was reaching for something. An officer yelled “put that down!” Officers fired 17 shots within seconds of spotting Gabriel. Hit, Gabriel fled. While Henry was attempting to help Gabriel in their yard, officers advanced. Henry stated that the only gun they had was a toy, which he tossed toward the officers. When the officers attempted to cuff Henry and Gabriel, both resisted. Officers tased them. EMS pronounced Gabriel dead at the scene. In the family's civil rights suit, the court granted the officers summary judgment on limitations and qualified immunity defenses. The Fifth Circuit affirmed that claims against two officers were time-barred but reversed in part. With respect to qualified immunity, the district court erred in excluding Henry’s affidavit. Genuine issues of material fact remain with respect to whether the use of deadly force was objectively reasonable. View "Winzer v. Kaufman County" on Justia Law

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Defendant father and son pleaded guilty to conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money servicing business (MSB). The son also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess Alprazolam, a Schedule IV controlled substance, with the intent to distribute. The district court subsequently denied defendants' motion to withdraw their guilty pleas and sentences. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment as to father and son, with one exception. In this case, the court held that, based on the totality of the circumstances, the evidence presented weighed against the withdrawal of the guilty pleas. The court reversed and remanded for resentencing as to son's maintaining a premises for the purpose of manufacturing or distributing a controlled substance enhancement and special skills enhancement. View "United States v. Lord" on Justia Law

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This case was remanded from the Supreme Court of the United States for reconsideration in light of its decision in Moore v. Texas, 137 S. Ct. 1039 (2017). In Moore, the Supreme Court held that the Briseno factors may not be used to restrict qualification of an individual as intellectually disabled. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment in this case because applying Moore retroactively contradicted the Court's decision in Shoop v. Hill, ___ S. Ct. ___ (Jan. 7, 2019). View "Weathers v. Davis" on Justia Law

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In San Francisco County, a male took a woman’s cellphone from her hand and passed it to Minor. Police apprehended Minor and found the phone in his pocket. Minor admitted to misdemeanor receiving stolen property. Weeks later, in Alameda County, Minor and another robbed two “kids,” using a pellet “replica” gun. Minor was apprehended and confessed. A search of Minor’s cellphone revealed an email receipt for a “Semi-Auto BB Air Pistol.” Minor admitted to attempted second-degree robbery. Both cases were transferred to Contra Costa County (Minor’s residence).. In Contra Costa County, two males took a victim’s cellphone at gunpoint. After Minor was arrested for the Alameda County robbery, he confessed to the Contra Costa robbery—he had the cellphone in his possession. A juvenile wardship petition alleged Minor committed second-degree robbery and personally used a dangerous or deadly weapon. The juvenile court denied Minor’s motion to suppress his statements and sustained the allegations. The court of appeal affirmed the order that adjudged Minor a ward, removed him from parental custody, and committed him to a county institution, rejecting a claim that Minor did not understand his Miranda warnings. Committing Minor to juvenile hall until age 21, while providing for an earlier release if Minor successfully completed a court-designated treatment program, did not impermissibly delegate judicial authority to the probation department to determine the length of the commitment. View "In re L.R." on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed defendant's convictions for three federal child sex offenses. The court held that defendant's text messages asking a person he thought was a minor to send him sexually explicit pictures of herself can support a conviction for making a "notice" to receive child pornography in violation of 18 U.S.C. 2251(d)(1)(A). The court also held that the evidence was sufficient for a jury to find that defendant believed one of the victims was thirteen years old, and the district court did not abuse its discretion in permitting a detective's challenged testimony. View "United States v. Caniff" on Justia Law

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Defendant Cornelius Jones appealed his conviction of attempted premeditated murder, assault with a deadly weapon, and assault likely to produce great bodily injury. He argued on appeal: (1) the trial court erred by ruling the prosecution did not unconstitutionally excuse the sole potential African-American juror on the basis of race; (2) insufficient evidence supported the jury s finding he attempted to kill willfully, deliberately, and with premeditation; (3) the court imposed an unauthorized sentence; and (4) the court committed other sentencing and clerical errors. The California Supreme Court directed the Court of Appeal to vacate our earlier opinion in this matter and reconsider the cause in light of Senate Bill No. 1393 (Stats. 2018, ch. 1013) (SB 1393). Thus, defendant also contended: (5) the Court of Appeal should remand to allow the trial court to exercise its new discretion under SB 1393 to strike two five-year enhancements imposed for a serious felony prior. Except to remand to correct the sentencing and clerical errors, but not to reconsider the felony prior enhancements, the Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment. View "California v. Jones" on Justia Law

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Sherman was incarcerated at the Trumbull County Jail where Drennan was a corrections officer. Drennen regularly patrolled the pod where Sherman lived with Rafferty, another female inmate. Three or four times, Sherman complied with Drennen's demand that Sherman expose her breasts to him. Once or twice, Sherman masturbated in Drennen’s presence “because he asked for it.” Sherman does not allege that Drennen ever touched her. Drennen never explicitly threatened Sherman. Sherman was deeply disturbed by Drennen’s demands. As a result of Drennen’s abuse, Sherman’s post-traumatic stress disorder worsened and her night terrors and flashbacks increased in severity. Sherman never reported Drennen to the jail administration because she felt intimidated. Sherman and Rafferty sued Drennen and county officials, alleging Fourth Amendment and Eighth Amendment claims against Drennen and Monell claims against the officials. The district court granted the defendants summary judgment on every claim except Sherman’s Eighth Amendment claim against Drennen, finding that Drennen was not entitled to qualified immunity. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. Sherman satisfied the subjective component of her Eighth Amendment claim; a jury could conclude that Drennen acted with deliberate indifference or acted maliciously and sadistically for the purpose of causing her harm. When Drennen allegedly sexually abused Sherman, it was clearly established that such abuse could violate the objective prong of the Eighth Amendment. View "Rafferty v. Trumbull Cty" on Justia Law

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In 2014, CNB auditors conducted a surprise audit of the Burlington, Kansas Central National Bank (“CNB” or “Bank”) vault. The vault was missing $764,000. When they began to suspect defendant Denise Christy, she forged documents to purport that she had sent the missing cash to the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City (“FRB”). A grand jury indicted her on one count of bank embezzlement, six counts of making false bank entries, six counts of failing to report income on her taxes, and 10 counts of money laundering. After a six-day trial, a jury found Christy guilty of all charges except four money laundering counts. On appeal, Christy argued: (1) cumulative prosecutorial misconduct violated her due process rights; (2) the evidence was insufficient for her money laundering convictions; and (3) the jury instructions improperly omitted a “materiality” element for the false-bank-entry charges. The Tenth Circuit: (1) rejected Christy’s prosecutorial misconduct challenge because she has not shown the prosecutor’s comments influenced the jury’s verdict; (2) reversed Christy’s money laundering convictions because the Government did not produce sufficient evidence of the intent to file a false tax return; and (3) affirmed Christy’s false-bank-entry convictions because, even assuming materiality was an implied element of 18 U.S.C. 1005, its omission from the jury instruction was harmless error. The matter was remanded to the district court with instructions to vacate the convictions for money laundering, resentence the defendant, and further proceedings. View "United States v. Christy" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction on remand of possession of an unregistered firearm. The court held that there was ample circumstantial evidence for the district court to reasonably infer defendant constructively possessed the shotgun because he had access to and control over the duffel bag found in his bedroom closet and had knowledge of the shotgun because it was found inside the duffel bag along with the revolver, which had his DNA on it, and the train ticket in his name. The court also held that there was ample circumstantial evidence for the district court to reasonably infer that defendant knew the shotgun had a bore diameter of more than one half inch. Therefore, defendant was aware of the shotgun's physical characteristics that brought it within the ambit of the National Firearms Act. View "United States v. White" on Justia Law