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A party waives the right to challenge on appeal a juror’s presence on the jury where the party’s appellate argument is based on facts known to the party during voir dire, the party consciously elected not to pursue - or abandoned - a challenge for cause on that basis, and the party accepted the juror’s presence on the jury. The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction of thirteen counts of possession of credit or debit card without cardholder’s consent. The Court held (1) Defendant waived his appellate argument of juror bias as to two jurors he passed for cause below; and (2) the district court erred by denying one of Defendant’s challenges for cause as to a certain juror, but the error was harmless and did not warrant reversal. View "Sayedzada v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court convicting Defendant of criminal possession of methamphetamine and other drug offenses after law enforcement found drugs and paraphernalia in Defendant’s pickup truck during a traffic stop, holding that the district court committed reversible error when it curtailed Defendant’s cross-examination of Leslie Hill, the lone passenger in the vehicle at the time of the traffic stop. Specifically, the Court held that the district court abused its discretion when it excluded evidence of Hill’s plea agreement with the State and prevented Defendant from fully cross-examining Hill about her plea agreement, and the error prejudiced Defendant and required a new trial. View "State v. Flowers" on Justia Law

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The district court erred when it denied the motion to quash filed by attorney Shannon Sweeney seeking to quash a subpoena compelling Sweeney to testify regarding communications she may have had with her client, Dakota McClanahan, on a bail jumping charge. The Supreme Court reversed the district court’s order and ordered that the subpoena compelling Sweeney to testify on the state’s behalf be quashed, holding that the district court erred in denying the motion to quash the subpoena because, under Mont. Code Ann. 26-1-803(1), an attorney cannot be examined as to any advice given to her client. View "Sweeney v. Third Judicial District Court" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted Petitioner’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus insofar as one of Petitioner’s claims alleged that he was ineligible for execution because he was intellectually disabled. The Court further vacated the judgment of the superior court in Petitioner’s criminal case to the extent it imposed a sentence of death. Petitioner was convicted of first degree murder and robbery. The jury returned a death verdict, which the court imposed. On remand from the Supreme Court, the trial court reinstated the judgment of death. The Supreme Court affirmed. Petitioner then filed this petition for writ of habeas corpus, arguing that he was ineligible for execution because he was intellectually disabled. The Supreme Court issued an order to show cause and ordered a reference hearing in the superior court. A referee found that Petitioner was intellectually disabled. The Supreme Court adopted the referee’s findings regarding intellectual functioning and adaptive behavior, holding that the findings were were substantially supported. Because Petitioner was intellectually disabled, he was entitled to relief from the death judgment under Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304, 321 (2002), and In re Hawthorne, 35 Cal. 4th 40 (2005). View "In re Lewis" on Justia Law

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As a school principal, Buendia took kickbacks from Shy. Detroit Public Schools (DPS) paid Shy for supplies he never delivered. Some of the money came from the federal government. The FBI searched Shy’s home and found a ledger of kickbacks Shy owed Buendia. Buendia was convicted of federal-programs bribery, 18 U.S.C. 666(a)(1)(B), and sentenced to 24 months’ imprisonment. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, rejecting her argument that the district court violated her constitutional right to present a complete defense when it excluded evidence of her kickback expenditures and the alleged receipts of expenditures for school purposes. The right to present a complete defense yields to reasonable evidentiary restrictions. The court correctly excluded as irrelevant evidence of how Buendia spent the kickback money and correctly excluded the receipts of school expenditures as hearsay. Regardless of how Buendia eventually spent the money, she “corruptly solicit[ed]” it because, by awarding contracts to Shy in exchange for kickbacks, she subverted the normal bidding process in a manner inconsistent with her duty to obtain goods and services for her school at the best value. Nor did the government open the door" by introducing testimony that Buendia bought massages using a gift card from Shy to show that she accepted kickbacks. View "United States v. Buendia" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's 18 U.S.C. 3582(c)(2) motion to reduce his sentence under Guidelines Amendment 782. The court held that the district court did not err in denying defendant's motion because his plea agreement explicitly waived the right to seek section 3582(c)(2) relief. Furthermore, defendant was not entitled to relief because he was sentenced as a career offender, not drug quantities. View "United States v. Cowan" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute a controlled substance. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying defendant's motion for mistrial based on prosecutorial misconduct. In this case, when the prosecutor elicited whether defendant exercised his constitutional rights to withhold consent to search his vehicle, the brief and ambiguous exchange did not prejudicially affect defendant's right to a fair trial. Furthermore, the government presented strong, independent evidence of defendant's guilt and the district court issued a firm curative instruction immediately after the exchange in question. View "United States v. Kopecky" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed Appellant’s appeal from the denial of his pro se second amended Ark. R. Crim. P. 37.1 petition, which rendered moot his motion for use of the record on appeal and for an extension of time to file his brief, holding that Appellant’s pro se second amended petition was untimely and successive. Appellant pleaded guilty to capital murder, terroristic threatening, and second-degree battery. Almost ten years later, Appellant filed his second amended petition. The trial court denied the petition, concluding that it had previously addressed and denied Appellant’s claims for postconviction relief. The Supreme Court affirmed because (1) Appellant’s original rule 37.1 petition was denied with prejudice, and the Supreme Court affirmed the denial on appeal; and (2) Appellant was not entitled to file a subsequent, untimely petition. View "Millsap v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied Petitioner’s pro se petition to reinvest jurisdiction in the trial court to consider a petition for writ of error coram nobis. Petitioner’s claim for issuance of the writ was that he was incompetent to stand trial. The Supreme Court held that Petitioner did not establish a ground for the writ because (1) the sentencing court had before it at the time of Petitioner’s trial the issue of whether Petitioner was competent to stand trial; and (2) Petitioner failed to show that there existed some fact pertaining to the issue of insanity at the time of trial that would have prevented rendition of the judgment had it been known to the trial court and that was not brought forward before rendition of the judgment. View "Rayford v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court denying Appellant a resentencing hearing and imposing a life sentence with parole eligibility pursuant to the Fair Sentencing of Minors Act of 2017 (FSMA), holding that the relevant provisions of the FSMA were inapplicable to Appellant. Appellant was found guilty of capital murder for a crime he committed when he was fifteen years old. Appellant was sentenced to a mandatory term of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. After the United States Supreme Court decided Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460, 479 (2012), Appellant petitioned for a writ of habeas corpus. The circuit court vacated Appellant’s sentence and remanded for resentencing. On remand, pursuant to the FSMA, the circuit court summarily resentenced Appellant to life imprisonment with the possibility of parole after thirty years. In reversing, the Supreme Court held (1) the relevant provisions for the FSMA were inapplicable to Appellant; and (2) therefore, Appellant was entitled to a hearing to present evidence for consideration and sentencing within the discretionary range for a Class Y felony. View "Harris v. State" on Justia Law