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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's imposition of the visitation condition as part of defendant's supervised release. The court held that the district court did not plainly err by imposing the visitation condition where the court has not addressed the constitutionality or substantive reasonableness of the challenged standard visitation condition or whether a district court must explain its reasons for imposing a standard condition. Defendant conceded that the court did not ordinarily find plain error when it has not previously addressed an issue. View "United States v. Cabello" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed defendant's 37 month sentence imposed after he pleaded guilty to illegal reentry after deportation. The court held that the district court did not err in applying the single sentence rule of USSG 4A1.2(a)(2) to aggregate defendant's prior felony convictions. Therefore, the district court's assessment of an 8-level sentencing enhancement under USSG 2L1.2(b)(3)(B) was warranted. View "United States v. Garcia-Sanchez" on Justia Law

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In 2009, a jury convicted Vance Thumm of aggravated battery or aiding and abetting aggravated battery and of being a persistent violator of the law. In 2013, through counsel, Thumm petitioned for post-conviction relief to which the State responded by filing a motion for summary disposition. The district court eventually granted the State’s motion and dismissed the post-conviction petition. Thumm appealed alleging: (1) ineffective assistance of counsel at trial, sentencing, and on appeal; (2) a Brady violation; (3) prosecutorial misconduct; and (4) cumulative error. The Idaho Supreme Court found no reversible error, and affirmed the district court’s grant of summary disposition. View "Thumm v. Idaho" on Justia Law

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Carlos Cuesta-Rodriguez challenges his Oklahoma conviction for first-degree murder and his accompanying sentence of death. The victim, Olimpia Fisher, and her adult daughter, Katya Chacon, lived with Cuesta-Rodriguez in a home Fisher and Cuesta-Rodriguez had purchased together. In the year following the home purchase, Cuesta-Rodriguez and Fisher’s relationship was strained. Cuesta- Rodriguez feared Fisher was cheating on him. Whenever Fisher and Chacon would leave the house, Cuesta-Rodriguez would question them “about where they were going and what they would be doing.” The relationship deteriorated to the point that both Cuesta-Rodriguez and Fisher wanted the other to move out. An argument between the two ended when Cuesta-Rodriquez shot Fisher in both eyes. The district court denied relief and denied a certificate of appealability (COA). The Tenth Circuit concluded Cuesta-Rodriguez was not persuasive in his argument that combined errors led to a trial that wasn’t “fundamentally fair.” As such, the Court affirmed the district court's judgment that Cuesta-Rodriquez was not entitled to relief. View "Cuesta-Rodriguez v. Carpenter" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's 120 month sentence for bank robbery. The court held that defendant's prior Illinois conviction for attempted robbery qualified as a career offender predicate under the force clause of USSC 4B1.2(a)(1). In Dembry v. United States, No. 17-2849, 2019 WL 436580, the court held that Illinois robbery was a crime of violence under the sentencing guidelines, and thus Illinois attempted robbery was also a crime of violence. View "United States v. Brown" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit denied a petition for review of the BIA's order upholding the IJ's finding that petitioner was removeable. The court held that petitioner's 2009 deferred judgment under Iowa Code 907.3(1) was a conviction for immigration purposes under 8 U.S.C. Sec. 1101(a)(48)(A), because he entered a guilty plea and the IJ ordered a restraint on his liberty with deferred judgment and probation. Moreover, the reinstatement of the deferred judgment was not intended to correct a procedural or substantive defect. View "Zazueta v. Barr" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's 204 month sentence imposed after he pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute cocaine base. The court held that the district court did not procedurally err in considering the 18 U.S.C. 3553(a) factors where it discussed the guideline calculation, the serious nature of the offense, defendant's criminal history and characteristics, the need to protect the public, and the need to accomplish specific deterrence. The court also held that defendant's sentence was not substantively unreasonable where the district court did not abuse its discretion in assigning some factors greater weight than others. View "United States v. Johnson" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit reversed the district court's denial of a petition for habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. 2254. Although the court agreed with the district court that the state courts properly rejected petitioner's Brady claim, the court held that the state courts unreasonably determined the facts in light of the evidence presented in the state court proceeding when it rejected petitioner's fair trial claim. In this case, there was more than a reasonable likelihood that the government's knowing offer of perjured testimony influenced the jury. View "Fernandez v. Capra" on Justia Law

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Jose Batista-Salva, appealed his conviction for witness tampering following a jury trial in Superior Court. He was accused of the armed robbery of a Wendy's in Nashua, New Hampshire; he used to work at the restaurant, and though he was wearing a bandana to obscure his face, a manager there believed he recognized the robber's voice as Batista-Salva's. Batista-Salva raised three arguments on appeal, each of which was premised on an underlying argument that the witness tampering indictment was impermissibly constructively amended. To the extent his arguments were not preserved, he asked the New Hampshire Supreme Court to waive our preservation requirement or consider them under plain error review. The Court declined, finding that the record in this case was ambiguous as to whether defendant relied on the factual allegations in the indictment in defending against the witness tampering charge. The Court declined to waive the preservation requirement in the absence of the record it needed to properly evaluate the merits of defendant's argument. Given these conclusions, the court did not consider any of defendant's other arguments, rejecting the premise on which they relied. As such, the Court affirmed the trial court. View "New Hampshire v. Batista-Salva" on Justia Law

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Appellant Aaron Thompson appealed after a jury found him guilty of two counts of first degree murder, two counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, and first degree conspiracy. The charges arose from the double homicide of Joseph and Olga Connell, who were shot to death in 2013. The State’s theory of the case at trial was that Mr. Connell’s business partner, Chris Rivers, paid to have the Connells killed so he could collect on an insurance policy listing Mr. Connell as the insured and Rivers as the beneficiary. The theory was that Rivers paid Joshua Bey, who in turn hired Dominique Benson and Thompson to carry out the murders. The success of the State’s theory at Thompson’s trial largely depended on the testimony and credibility of Bey. Thompson contended throughout the trial that Bey was lying and made up the connection with Thompson to get himself a favorable plea deal. On appeal to the Delaware Supreme Court, Thompson argued: (1) two statements by the State during its rebuttal argument constituted prosecutorial misconduct that undermined the fairness of the trial; and (2) the trial court abused its discretion in allowing Bey’s recorded statement to the police to be played for the jury following his testimony, arguing that this was inadmissible hearsay not subject to an exception. The Supreme Court found no reversible error and affirmed Thompson's convictions. View "Thompson v. Delaware" on Justia Law