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Justin Comer pleaded guilty to criminal sexual conduct in the first-degree (CSC-I) and second-degree home invasion. He was sentenced to concurrent prison terms of 51 months to 18 years for the CSC-I conviction and 51 months to 15 years for the second-degree home invasion conviction. The judgment of sentence included a line to be checked by the trial court, indicating: “The defendant is subject to lifetime monitoring under MCL 750.520n.” This line was not checked, and the trial court did not otherwise indicate that defendant was subject to lifetime electronic monitoring. At issue before the Michigan Supreme Court was whether the trial court’s failure to impose lifetime electronic monitoring as a part of defendant’s sentence for CSC-I rendered defendant’s sentence invalid and, if so, whether the trial court could correct the invalid sentence on its own initiative 19 months after the original judgment of sentence had entered. The Court held that defendant’s sentence was invalid because MCL 750.520b(2)(d) required the trial court to sentence defendant to lifetime electronic monitoring. Furthermore, the Court held that under MCR 6.435 and MCR 6.429, the trial court erred by correcting defendant’s invalid sentence on its own initiative absent a motion from either party. This case was remanded back to the trial court to reinstate the original judgment of sentence. View "Michigan v. Comer" on Justia Law

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Petitioner sought relief under 28 U.S.C. 2254 after the district court granted a certificate of appealability on the narrow procedural question of whether a habeas petitioner's claims raised for the first time in objections to a magistrate judge's proposed findings and recommendations must be heard by the district judge. The Fifth Circuit broadly answered in the affirmative, but found in this case that the district court did not commit reversible error. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Samples v. Ballard" on Justia Law

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Defendant was convicted of 11 counts related to a corruption scandal involving the City of Bell. The Court of Appeals held that the jury could reasonably have concluded that defendant was criminally negligent by failing to take steps to determine whether the loans at issue were authorized. However, the court reversed the five convictions for misappropriation of public funds because the jury instructions were erroneous in light of People v. Hubbard, (2016) 63 Cal.4th 378. Hubbard was issued after defendant's trial and clarified the scope of Penal Code section 424. Furthermore, the error was not harmless. The court affirmed the conflict of interest conviction based on her involvement in changing Bell's pension plan because amendments to the pension plan effectively modified the terms of defendant's employment with Bell, and constituted the making of a contract within the meaning of Government Code section 1090. The court remanded for further proceedings, including correction of the abstract of judgment to delete references to defendant's current or prior serious or violent felony convictions. View "People v. Spaccia" on Justia Law

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Jorge Carillo pleaded guilty to, inter alia, conspiring to distribute at least 100 grams of heroin. On appeal, he argued the district court’s acceptance of his guilty plea was at odds with Fed. R. Crim. P. 11(b)(1)(G)-(I) and 11(b)(3). At his initial appearance, Carillo acknowledged he received a copy of the indictment and understood the charges against him. Carillo pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge without the benefit of a plea agreement. At the change-of-plea hearing, the district court reminded Carillo the drug count charged him with “conspiring with others to distribute more than a hundred grams of heroin.” The district court, however, did not otherwise elucidate the nature or specifics of the charge or discuss the elements of conspiracy. Nevertheless, Carillo told the district court he understood the charges against him. In reciting the penalties Carillo faced, the prosecutor mistakenly stated Carillo was subject to a maximum term of imprisonment of twenty years. The district court did not mention the applicable mandatory minimum term. After confirming he had enough time to consult with his lawyer, and was satisfied with his attorney’s advice and representation, the district court accepted Carillo’s guilty plea, finding he was aware of the nature of the charges he was facing and that the guilty plea was supported by sufficient facts. Carillo did not object to the penalties that were recited by the prosecutor, the factual basis the prosecutor provided, or to the court’s finding that sufficient facts supported the guilty plea. Ultimately, the district court imposed the mandatory minimum sixty-month sentence on the conspiracy count and forty-eight month sentences on two firearms counts, with all three sentences to run concurrently. At no point during the sentencing hearing did Carillo contest the validity of his guilty plea. Carillo asserts on appeal, for the first time, that his guilty plea was not knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily entered because the plea colloquy did not comply with the dictates of Fed. R. Crim. P. 11(b). In particular, Carillo asserts the district court failed to: (1) inform him of the applicable minimum and maximum sentences; (2) adequately explain the nature of the charge to which he was pleading; and (3) establish a factual basis for the guilty plea, in violation of Rule 11(b)(3). The Tenth Circuit concluded Carillo satisfied his burden of demonstrating the district court’s Rule 11(b)(3) error affected his substantial rights. "There is no doubt that failing to correct that error would seriously affect the fairness and integrity of judicial proceedings." The matter was remanded the district court for further proceedings. View "United States v. Carillo" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's 12 month and 1 day sentence and his special condition of release requiring him to attend a treatment program for anger control/domestic violence based on a ten-year old conviction for terroristic threats. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying a sentence reduction under USSG 2K2.1(b)(2) where the only evidence at sentencing to arguably support a sporting-use reduction related to defendant's firearm offense was that he enjoys hunting, fishing, and competing in gun competitions. However, defendant failed to present any evidence that the firearms he possessed were actually used for those purposes. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in imposing the special condition of supervised release where there was sufficient basis in the record to support the condition. View "United States v. Moore" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for being a felon in possession of a firearm. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by admitting gang-related evidence to establish why officers were present, the steps they took, and the reasoning that they had. The evidence also established defendant's motive and intent. The court also held that the evidence was sufficient to establish that defendant knowingly possessed the firearm. View "United States v. Gaines" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a federal prisoner, filed a pro se petition seeking relief by way of writ from what he alleged to be an illegally imposed sentence. The DC Circuit rejected plaintiff's claims under the international doctrine of specialty and the international doctrine of dual criminality. Even assuming that 18 U.S.C. 3192 created an implied individual claim for relief and that the district court would have the authority to compel the President to perform this duty, the only relief that plaintiff seeks is release from a conviction and sentence which he claims were imposed in violation of the Constitution and laws of the United States. The court explained that plaintiff's arguments classically described habeas relief. The court rejected plaintiff's remaining arguments and affirmed the district court's dismissal based on lack of jurisdiction. View "Day v. Trump" on Justia Law

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Defendant was convicted of unlawful possession with intent to distribute 100 grams or more of PCP (Count 1), unlawful possession of a firearm or ammunition by a person convicted of a felony (Count 2), and using, carrying, and possessing a firearm during a drug trafficking offense (Count 3). The DC Circuit reversed defendant's conviction on Counts 1 and 3, holding that the evidence was equivocal about his relationship to the PCP and his ability to exercise dominion and control over it. Therefore, the evidence was insufficient to show that he constructively possessed the PCP and thus insufficient to show a drug trafficking offense. The court affirmed defendant's conviction on Count 2, holding that his evidentiary and constitutional challenges did not warrant a reversal of his conviction for unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. View "United States v. Dorman" on Justia Law

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Lee moved to the U.S. from South Korea with his parents when he was 13. For 35 years he never returned to South Korea, nor did he become a U.S. citizen. He is a lawful permanent resident. In 2008, Lee admitted possessing ecstasy with intent to distribute. His attorney repeatedly assured him that he would not be deported as a result of pleading guilty. Lee accepted a plea and was sentenced to a year and a day in prison. His conviction was an “aggravated felony,” 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(43)(B), so he was subject to mandatory deportation. When Lee learned of this consequence, he moved to vacate his conviction, arguing that his attorney had provided constitutionally ineffective assistance. Lee and his plea-stage counsel testified that “deportation was the determinative issue” in Lee's decision to accept a plea. Lee’s counsel acknowledged that although Lee’s defense was weak, if he had known Lee would be deported upon pleading guilty, he would have advised him to go to trial. The Sixth Circuit affirmed denial of relief. The Supreme Court reversed. Lee established that he was prejudiced by erroneous advice, demonstrating a “reasonable probability that, but for counsel’s errors, he would not have pleaded guilty and would have insisted on going to trial.” The Court stated that the inquiry demands a “case-by-case examination.” A defendant’s decisionmaking may not turn solely on the likelihood of conviction after trial. When the inquiry is focused on what an individual defendant would have done, the possibility of even a highly improbable result may be pertinent to the extent it would have affected the defendant’s decisionmaking. The Court reasoned that it could not say that it would be irrational for someone in Lee’s position to risk additional prison time in exchange for holding on to some chance of avoiding deportation. View "Lee v. United States" on Justia Law

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Petitioner, convicted of attempted criminal contempt in the second degree and harassment in the second degree, petitioned for habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. 2254. Petitioner was sentenced to a one-year conditional discharge, with the condition that she abide by a two-year order of protection. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the petition, holding that the order of protection did not place her "in custody" for purposes of section 2254(a). View "Vega v. Schneiderman" on Justia Law