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Defendant Bernard Rougeau appealed a trial court’s requirement that he post $100,000 cash or surety bond to mitigate any potential risk that he flee from prosecution. He was being held in custody for failure to post bail while he awaited trial on three counts: aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer by threatening with a deadly weapon, and interference with access to emergency services. In October 2018, defendant’s sister telephoned the state police to report that defendant was suicidal and had cut himself. The police arrived at the home and an officer located defendant outside, emerging from the surrounding woods, armed. According to the affidavit of probable cause, the officer warned him to drop the weapon, yet defendant advanced toward the officer, still holding the gun. Then defendant raised the firearm. In that moment, according to the affidavit, the officer shot defendant in the abdomen. Defendant was taken into custody and airlifted to Albany Medical Center to treat his wounds. In November 2018, he waived extradition from New York and was arraigned in Vermont on the above-three counts. The State argued that defendant’s charges involved a “mental health break,” threats of self-harm, and a firearm. Moreover, “an individual who flees into the woods with a firearm, indicating to his mother that he wants to be shot by the police, poses a significant risk of flight.” The State also recounted defendant’s criminal history, which involved felony convictions for arson, DUI III, multiple contempt-of-court convictions, and a failure to appear. The trial court concluded defendant posed a flight risk, and set bail based on his criminal record, the seriousness of the offenses, and the nature and circumstances of those offenses. On appeal, defendant challenged the imposition of bail and the amount of bail imposed. Finding no reversible error or abuse of discretion, the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed. View "Vermont v. Rougeau" on Justia Law

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Defendant Mark Bergquist appealed after a jury convicted him of sexually assaulting his seven-year-old daughter, A.B. On appeal, defendant raised multiple arguments challenging the trial court’s: (1) admission of A.B.’s out-of-court statements pursuant to Vermont Rule of Evidence 804a; (2) exclusion of certain evidence concerning A.B.’s mother’s state of mind and conduct; (3) ruling allowing A.B. to testify out of defendant’s presence pursuant to Vermont Rule of Evidence 807(f); (4) denial of discovery of some of A.B.’s mental-health records; and (5) admission of expert testimony that he argues improperly “vouched” for A.B.’s credibility. Finding no reversible error, the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed defendant's conviction. View "Vermont v. Bergquist" on Justia Law

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Defendant was charged with aggravated battery of a child, heinous battery, and aggravated domestic battery. The indictments alleged that defendant immersed his six-year-old stepson, J.H. in hot water. The court admitted J.H.’s out-of-court statement to his nurse at Stroger Hospital. The state also offered expert testimony from Dr. Fujara, a specialist in child abuse pediatrics and from White, a retired investigator with the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). Defendant acknowledged that he falsely identified himself at the hospital. The trial court found him guilty. The appellate court held that the trial court erred in admitting J.H.’s statement identifying defendant as the offender under the hearsay exception for statements made for the purpose of medical diagnosis and treatment and held that the double jeopardy clause barred retrial because the evidence was insufficient to prove defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, reasoning that J.H.’s hearsay statement was the only identification evidence placing defendant in the bathroom when the injury occurred. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed, concluding that the double jeopardy clause does not bar retrial. Dr. Fujara offered persuasive expert testimony that J.H.’s burns resulted from forcible immersion in hot water, ruling out alternative causes and rebutting defendant’s argument that J.H. may have been burned accidentally as a result of a faulty water heater. Defendant was the only adult present in the house at the time J.H. was injured and did not seek prompt treatment. View "People v. Drake" on Justia Law

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The circuit court found section 25(b)(2) of the Drug Dealer Liability Act, 740 ILCS 57/25(b)(2), facially unconstitutional. The Act provides a civil remedy for persons injured as a result of illegal drug use. Persons who may sue for damages include: a parent, legal guardian, child, spouse or sibling of the individual drug user, an individual who was exposed to an illegal drug in utero, an employer of the drug user, a medical facility, insurer, governmental entity, employer, or other entity that funds a drug treatment program or employee assistance program for the individual drug user or that otherwise expended money on behalf of the drug user, or a person injured as a result of the willful, reckless, or negligent actions of a drug user. Under section 25(b)(2), a plaintiff may seek damages from “[a] person who knowingly participated in the illegal drug market if: (A) the place of illegal drug activity by the individual drug user is within the illegal drug market target community of the defendant; (B) the defendant’s participation in the illegal drug market was connected with the same type of illegal drug used by the individual drug user; and (C) the defendant participated in the illegal drug market at any time during the individual drug user’s period of illegal drug use.” The Illinois Supreme Court concluded that the section is unconstitutional and severable. Section 25(b)(2) requires no relationship between the parties whatsoever for liability to attach and violates substantive due process protections. View "Wingert v. Hradisky" on Justia Law

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Webb was charged with misdemeanor unlawful use of weapons (UUW) statute (720 ILCS 5/24-1(a)(4)) after he was discovered carrying a stun gun in his jacket pocket while in his vehicle on a public street. Greco was charged under the same section after he was found carrying a stun gun in his backpack in a forest preserve, a public place. No concealed carry permit is available for stun guns. Both defendants moved to dismiss, arguing section 24-1(a)(4) operated as a complete ban on the carriage of stun guns and tasers in public and was, therefore, unconstitutional under the Second Amendment. The circuit court and Illinois Supreme Court agreed with defendants. Stun guns and tasers are bearable arms under the Second Amendment and may not be subjected to a categorical ban. Section 24-1(a)(4) constitutes a categorical ban. View "People v. Webb" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit dismissed petitioner's appeal of the district court's denial of his motions for leave to file an amended motion for appointment of independent counsel and for appointment of independent supplemental or substitute counsel. The court held that the motions were not appealable under 28 U.S.C. 1291 because petitioner's proceedings under 28 U.S.C. 2254 were still pending. View "Crain v. Secretary, Florida Department of Corrections" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court sentencing Defendant to forty-eight months in prison for unlawfully possessing a firearm, holding that Defendant's variant sentence was not procedurally unreasonable. The guideline range specified by the presentence report was thirty to thirty-seven months. The district court ultimately imposed a forty-eight-month variant sentence. On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court failed adequately to explain its reasons for imposing an above-guideline sentence, that a variant sentence was not supported by the record, and that the district court relied on erroneous facts. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the district court offered a plausible and coherent rationale for its eleven-month variance; and (2) the district court did not rely on erroneous facts in imposing Defendant's sentence. View "United States v. Rivera-Santiago" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court denying Defendant's request to challenge the reliability of his victim's testimony by cross-examining the victim at Defendant's resentencing hearing, holding that the district court did not violate Defendant's procedural due process rights by disallowing cross-examination of the victim at Defendant's resentencing. Defendant pleaded guilty to kidnapping for ransom. The First Circuit remanded the case for resentencing. On remand, the district court judge sentenced Defendant to eight months less than his previous sentence. On appeal, Defendant argued that his procedural due process rights were violated when the judge denied him the opportunity to contest misinformation about his treatment of the victim during the abduction by cross-examining the victim, which led to the imposition of a sentence based on inaccurate information. The First Circuit disagreed and affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in denying Defendant's request to cross-examine the victim at Defendant's resentencing hearing. View "United States v. Berrios-Miranda" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit vacated in part the district court's grant of Defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint, holding that the warrantless search in this case violated the Fourth Amendment because the circumstances, including deception by law enforcement officers, vitiated the consent given by Plaintiff. Plaintiff alleged that he consented to FBI agents' entry into his home and search of his computers only because the officers lied about the true reason of why there were there and what they were looking for. The district court granted Defendants' motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. The First Circuit vacated in part and affirmed in part, holding (1) because the totality of the circumstances pointed to a situation involving beguilement, the government did not meet its burden to prove voluntariness, and therefore, the warrantless entry into Plaintiff's home and the search and seizure of his computer violated the Fourth Amendment; (2) Defendants were not entitled to qualified immunity on Plaintiff's search-based Fourth Amendment claim because any reasonable officer would have recognized that the circumstances were impermissibly coercive; and (3) even if Plaintiffs' malicious prosecution claim had merit, Defendants would be entitled to qualified immunity. View "Pagan-Gonzalez v. Moreno" on Justia Law

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Eason pleaded guilty as a felon in possession of a firearm. The statutory range for such a violation is zero to 10 years’ imprisonment but under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), 18 U.S.C. 924(e)(1), a defendant convicted under 18 U.S.C. 922(g) who has three prior convictions for violent felonies or serious drug offenses is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 180 months. Eason had five prior felony convictions for the promotion of methamphetamine manufacture. Eason argued that an ACCA “serious drug offense” is defined as “an offense under State law, involving manufacturing, distributing, or possessing with intent to manufacture or distribute, a controlled substance,” and that, under the Tennessee statute, his prior offenses could have been based on no more than the purchase of an ingredient that can be used to produce methamphetamine with reckless disregard of its intended use. The district court agreed with Eason. Without the ACCA enhancement, Eason was sentenced to 46 months’ imprisonment, the top of the guideline range. The Sixth Circuit reversed. Purchasing ingredients needed to make methamphetamine, and consciously disregarding an unjustifiable risk regarding how those products will be used, “indirectly,” if not “directly,” connects with methamphetamine’s “production, preparation, propagation, compounding or processing” and is a serious drug offense under ACCA. View "United States v. Eason" on Justia Law