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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

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's motion to suppress evidence from a traffic stop after he entered a conditional guilty plea to being a felon in possession of a firearm. The court held that the officer reasonably believed that the vehicle violated the traffic laws and there was sufficient probable cause for the stop. Therefore, the traffic stop was constitutional and the district court properly denied the motion to suppress. View "United States v. Miller" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit held that there was sufficient evidence to convict defendant of distribution of heroin and fentanyl resulting in serious bodily injury and possession of those drugs with intent to distribute. In this case, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the jury verdict, there was overwhelming evidence presented to the jury to establish but-for causation. Even if the jury had determined that the acetyl-fentanyl was an independently sufficient cause of the overdose, Burrage v. United States explicitly carved out an exception for cases where there are multiple independently sufficient causes. The court found that the jury drew reasonable inferences from the evidence that a third party's overdose was not caused by any opiate in his system prior to the ingestion of the heroin/fentanyl mixture he purchased from defendant. View "United States v. Seals" on Justia Law