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The State appealed a trial court's grant of defendant Ronald Dupuis's motion to suppress evidence arising from a game warden's warrantless search of his property, arguing that because defendant's "no trespass" postings did not comport with Vermont's hunting posting statute, he enjoyed no expectation of privacy. Defendant was charged with taking big game by illegal means as well as baiting and feeding deer. Although the warden testified that he saw no signs posted, defendant and others testified, and the trial court found, that defendant had posted between twenty-five and thirty signs stating "no trespassing" or "keep out" around the perimeter of his property, located approximately 100 to 150 feet apart. A gate with multiple "no trespassing" signs blocked the main entrance onto defendant's property. There was no evidence that the game warden had a warrant or suspicion of criminal activity at the time he entered defendant's land. The trial court granted defendant's motion to suppress evidence obtained from the warden's warrantless search, ruling that it violated Chapter I, Article 11 of the Vermont Constitution. The court held that by posting his land to the extent that he had, defendant "took the steps necessary to clearly communicate to the reasonable person that the public was excluded from his Bloomfield property," thereby preserving his expectation of privacy. Finding no reversible error in the trial court's judgment, the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed. View "Vermont v. Dupuis" on Justia Law

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After Angus McGinty, a former Texas state court judge, pleaded guilty to Honest Services Wire Fraud after accepting bribes for favorable rulings, he sought to vacate his conviction under 28 U.S.C. 2255. McGinty argued that his attorneys' potential criminal liability created a conflict that infringed his Sixth Amendment right to effective counsel. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of McGinty's motion to vacate on an alternative basis. The court held that McGinty knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waived the purported conflict. In this case, if McGinty's attorneys had a conflict, the uncontested facts show that McGinty opportunistically knew, even took advantage of, that fact better than anyone. View "Sealed Appellee v. Sealed Appellant" on Justia Law

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At issue in this appeal was whether and when the use of hash values by law enforcement is consistent with the Fourth Amendment. The Fifth Circuit held that, under the private search doctrine, the Fourth Amendment is not implicated where the government does not conduct the search itself, but only receives and utilizes information uncovered by a search conducted by a private party. The court affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's motion to suppress child pornography found in his home. In this case, a private company determined that the hash values of files uploaded by defendant corresponded to the hash values of known child pornography images and passed this information on to law enforcement. The court held that this circumstance qualified as a private search for Fourth Amendment purposes because the government's subsequent law enforcement actions in reviewing the images did not effect an intrusion on defendant's privacy that he did not already experience as a result of the private search. View "United States v. Reddick" on Justia Law

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The police received an anonymous 911 call from a 14‐year‐old who borrowed a stranger’s phone and reported seeing “boys” “playing with guns” by a “gray and greenish Charger” in a nearby parking lot. A police officer drove to the lot, blocked a car matching the caller’s description, ordered the car’s occupants to get out of the car, and found that a passenger in the car, Watson, had a gun. He later conditionally pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm as a felon, 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(1). The Seventh Circuit vacated the conviction. The police did not have reasonable suspicion to block the car. The anonymous tip did not justify an immediate stop because the caller’s report was not sufficiently reliable. The caller used a borrowed phone, which would make it difficult to find him, and his sighting of guns did not describe a likely emergency or crime—he reported gun possession, which is lawful. View "United States v. Watson" on Justia Law

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Police stopped appellee Alexis Popielarcheck after observing her weaving onto and over road markers. A blood draw confirmed that she had in her system a combination of alprazolam, marijuana, cocaine, benzoylecognine, and hydrocodone. Popielarcheck plead guilty to two misdemeanor counts of DUI, 75 Pa.C.S. 3802(d)(1)(i) (marijuana) and (d)(2) (various). The sentencing court modified her bail to require that she attend and complete recommended treatment at Greenbriar Treatment Center. Popielarcheck began treatment on June 23, 2015 and completed it on July 14, 2015. On September 1, 2015, the court conducted a sentencing hearing. Her discharge summary from Greenbriar, which was admitted into evidence without objection, reflected that her prognosis at the time of discharge was “poor” and that her success would depend upon her following through with aftercare recommendations. Popielarcheck, who had one prior DUI conviction in 2007, testified to relapsing “many times over.” The Pennsylvania Supreme Court granted review in this case to consider the interplay between two alternative sentencing schemes for persons convicted of a second offense for driving under the influence or alcohol or a controlled substance (“DUI”). In particular, the Court agreed to decide whether, when sentencing a repeat offender in need of further treatment to county intermediate punishment (“CIP”) under section 9763 of the Sentencing Code, 42 Pa.C.S. 9763, the sentencing court must impose the statutory maximum sentence under section 3804(d) of the Vehicle Code, 75 Pa.C.S. 3804(d). The Court concluded the Sentencing Code and the Vehicle Code establish independent alternative sentencing schemes, the sentencing court in this case was not required to impose the statutory maximum sentence when ordering Popielarcheck to serve a CIP sentence. Accordingly, the order of the Superior Court was affirmed. View "Pennsylvania v. Popielarcheck" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment to defendant based on qualified immunity grounds in a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action alleging that defendant failed to disclose evidence that would have cast serious doubt on the star prosecution witness in plaintiff's trial. The panel held that the record demonstrated as a matter of law that defendant withheld material impeachment evidence under Brady v. Maryland and Giglio v. United States, and raised a genuine issue of material fact as to whether defendant acted with deliberate indifference or reckless disregard for plaintiff's due process rights. The panel also held that the law at the time of the 1997–98 investigation clearly established that police officers investigating a criminal case were required to disclose material, impeachment evidence to the defense. Finally, the panel held that the district court abused its discretion by striking the declaration of plaintiff's police practices expert. The panel remanded for further proceedings. View "Mellen v. Winn" on Justia Law

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Battery committed with the use of a deadly weapon under Nevada Revised Statute 200.481(2)(e)(1) is a crime of violence as defined in 18 U.S.C. 16(a). The Ninth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for illegal reentry into the United States. The panel held that defendant's prior battery conviction under Nevada law qualified as a crime of violence and thus his initial deportation was not unlawful. View "United States v. Guizar-Rodriguez" on Justia Law

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An Illinois jury convicted McGhee of murder and attempted murder. McGhee’s defense attorney asked the judge to poll the jury after the verdict was read. The judge said, “[a]ll right,” but did not conduct the poll; he simply thanked and dismissed the jurors. An Illinois criminal defendant “has the absolute right to poll the jury after it returns its verdict.” Defense counsel did not object when the judge moved directly to closing remarks, nor did he raise the issue in a post-trial motion. McGhee’s appellate lawyer failed to challenge the error on direct review. McGhee’s conviction was affirmed on appeal and in state collateral review. He sought habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. 2254. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the denial of the petition. McGhee’s "Strickland" claims, that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to object to the judge’s jury-polling error and his appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to raise the judge’s error on appeal, were waived because he did not present them in his section 2254 petition. McGhee procedurally defaulted his claim that appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to challenge trial counsel’s failure to preserve the polling error. McGhee failed to present the claim through one complete round of state-court review. View "McGhee v. Watson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that the court of appeals erred in reversing the trial court’s denial of Defendant’s motion to suppress, holding that the suppression motion contained sufficient findings of fact to support the trial court’s conclusion that Defendant knowingly and voluntarily waived his juvenile rights pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. 7B-2101 before making certain incriminating statements. The court of appeals determined that the totality of the circumstances set forth in the record did not fully support the trial court’s conclusion that Defendant knowingly, willingly, and understandingly waived his juvenile rights. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the trial court’s findings of fact had adequate evidentiary support, and those findings supported the trial court’s conclusion that Defendant knowingly and voluntarily waived his juvenile rights; and (2) in reaching a contrary conclusion, the court of appeals failed to focus upon the sufficiency of the evidence to support the trial court’s findings of fact and to give proper deference to those findings. View "State v. Saldierna" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held in this criminal case that while the claim asserted in Defendant’s motion for appropriate relief was not subject to the procedural bar established by N.C. Gen. Stat. 15A-1419(a)(3), the trial court did not err by denying Defendant’s motion for the reasons stated by the court of appeals. The jury returned a verdict convicting Defendant of first-degree murder, and the trial court sentenced Defendant to a term of life imprisonment without parole. Defendant later filed a motion for appropriate relief asserting, among other things, that his constitutional right to effective, conflict-free trial counsel had been violated. The trial court denied Defendant’s motion after conducting an evidentiary hearing. The Supreme Court concluded that Defendant’s ineffective assistance of counsel claim was not procedurally barred and overturned the trial court’s order denying Defendant’s motion for appropriate relief. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) Defendant was not subject to the procedural bar created by N.C. Gen. Stat. 15A-1419(a)(3) with respect to his ineffective assistance of counsel claim; but (2) the trial court properly denied Defendant’s motion for appropriate relief. View "State v. Hyman" on Justia Law