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The trial court vacated defendant's misdemeanor sentence and reinstated his felony conviction and sentence. Then the trial court conducted a probation violation hearing, found that defendant had violated probation, and revoked probation and executed the felony sentence. The Court of Appeal reviewed the record of the probation violation hearing, and concluded that no arguable issues exist with regard to it. With respect to the reinstatement of the felony sentence, the court held that the misdemeanor sentence was unauthorized, and therefore the trial court properly vacated it and reinstated the felony sentence. In this case, by virtue of defense counsel's compliance with the Wende procedure and the court's review of the record, defendant received adequate and effective appellate review of the judgment entered against him. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "People v. Roth" on Justia Law

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The legislature intended the phrase “not engaged in unlawful activity” in the self-defense statute, Tenn. Code Ann. 39-11-611, to be a condition of the statutory privilege not to retreat when confronted with unlawful force, and the trial court should make the threshold determination of whether the defendant was engaged in unlawful activity when he used force in an alleged self-defense situation. Defendant was convicted of attempted voluntary manslaughter as a lesser-included offense of attempted second degree murder and related offenses. The court of criminal appeals affirmed the convictions. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Defendant’s conduct of being a felon in possession of a firearm was unlawful activity for purposes of the self-defense statute, but the trial court’s jury instructions were harmless error; and (2) Defendant’s remaining arguments on appeal were without merit. View "State v. Perrier" on Justia Law

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Aerial surveillance of the curtilage of a private residence conducted for the purposes of detecting criminal activity thereupon qualifies as a “search” within the meaning of Haw. Const. art. I, 7. In this case, three helicopter flyovers of Defendant’s residence led to a police officer’s naked eye observation of two rows of potted marijuana plants growing in the curtilage of Defendant’s house. Defendant filed a motion to suppress, arguing that the aerial search violated his reasonable expectation of privacy. The circuit court denied the motion to suppress. The intermediate court of appeals (ICA) vacated the circuit court’s order denying Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence, concluding that the circuit court erred in concluding that Defendant did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the area surrounding his house from aerial surveillance. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the police officer conducted unconstitutional, warrantless searches in contravention of Defendant’s rights under Haw. Const. art. I, 7; and (2) therefore, the evidence obtained during the execution of the search warrant, which was based on the officer’s observations during his aerial reconnaissance missions, was the fruit of the poisonous tree. View "State v. Quiday" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court here provided guidance as to when circumstances are compelling for purposes of denying a defendant’s motion for release from custody when the defendant is held for a period of more than two days after initial appearance without commencement of a preliminary hearing. See Hawaii Rules of Penal Procedure 5(c)(3). Petitioners Si Ufaga Moana and Jayvan C. Curioso each sought a writ of mandamus directing the Honorable Frances Q.F. Wong and Jayvan C. Curioso, respectively, to order their release from custody in accordance with the requirement that a defendant be released upon motion if a preliminary hearing has not commenced within two days of the defendant’s initial appearance. The Supreme Court denied the petitions as moot because the State respectively charged Petitioners by information and grand jury indictment during the pendency of these petitions, obviating the need for preliminary hearings. However, the court considered the legal issues raised by these cases because they were capable of repetition but would otherwise evade review. View "Moana v. Wong" on Justia Law

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After Melvin Lawhorn was fatally shot by police, his personal representative filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and various state laws against the county, the sheriff's office, and others. In this case, an officer leaned inside the passenger-side window to grab Lawhorn when Lawhorn successfully shifted the truck into drive and the truck began moving forward. The officer shot Lawhorn. The court affirmed the district court's grant of qualified immunity to defendants, holding that existing law did not clearly establish that an officer leaning into the window of a moving truck violated the Fourth Amendment by using deadly force. The court also affirmed the district court's fee sanction award that was imposed for defendants' discovery misconduct. View "Brown v. Elliot" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted writs of prohibition directing the circuit court to vacate its orders sustaining Mo. Sup. Ct. R. 29.12(b) motions and amending the stealing convictions and sentences of Jesse Nelson and Jack Walker II, holding that the circuit court lacked jurisdiction to adjudicate the Rule 29.12(b) motions and amend the judgments. Nelson and Walker pleaded guilty to the class C felony of stealing property worth $500 or more. Both defendants were placed on probation. The Supreme Court subsequently held that the offense of stealing could not be enhanced to a felony pursuant to Mo. Rev. Stat. 570.030.3(1). Thereafter, Nelson and Walker filed motions pursuant to Rule 29.12(b) seeking to amend their convictions and sentences to reflect that stealing property worth $500 or more was a class A misdemeanor. The circuit court sustained the motions and amended the judgments in both cases. The prosecuting attorney sought writs of prohibition directing the circuit court to vacate its orders. The Supreme Court granted the requested relief, holding that the plaint language of Rule 29.12(b) does not provide for an independent post-sentence procedure, and therefore, the circuit court’s action taken after imposing the sentences was a nullity and void. View "State ex rel. Zahnd v. Honorable James W. Van Amburg" on Justia Law

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Petitioner Phyllis Morris’ office, the Public Defender for San Bernadino County, represented Ruth Zapata Lopez, a nonparty to this petition, in a case alleging she committed two misdemeanors by driving while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. Acting on Lopez’s behalf, petitioner’s office successfully moved to suppress evidence supporting the State’s case. Both counts were eventually dismissed in the interest of justice. The State appealed the suppression motion on the same day. A deputy public defender filed a request with the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of San Bernardino County to appoint counsel for Lopez on appeal. Court clerks informed counsel that Lopez was not eligible for appointment of counsel on appeal. According to the deputy public defender, the reason provided was that Lopez “was the respondent, and the respondent on a misdemeanor appeal is not entitled to appointed counsel.” In an e-mail attached to the petition, the same deputy public defender asserts a court clerk told him the appellate division’s position was that petitioner’s office still represented Lopez. Petitioner filed an earlier petition (case No. E066181) challenging this policy. Petitioner argued the United States Constitution obligated the Superior Court of San Bernardino County to appoint counsel for all indigent defendants in the appellate division. While the Court of Appeal agreed that a defendant acting as respondent in the appellate division would likely fare better with an attorney than without one, “showing that something might be procedurally better is not the same as showing that the state is obligated to provide it.” The Court concluded petitioner failed to show why appointment of counsel for respondents in the appellate division, as much as it might conceivably benefit those respondents, was constitutionally mandated. View "Morris v. Superior Court" on Justia Law

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An inmate serving a federal sentence remains under "the custody of the Attorney General" as per 18 U.S.C. 751(a) when he is held at a state-run institution pursuant to the writ. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of a pre-plea motion to dismiss an indictment where defendant pleaded guilty to attempted escape. The panel held that defendant's guilty plea did not preclude them from considering the merits of his appeal; the district court did not err in denying defendant's motion to dismiss on the ground that he was in federal custody as a matter of law pursuant to section 751(a); and the district court did not err in denying defendant's motion to dismiss on prosecutorial vindictiveness grounds. View "United States v. Brown" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court denying Defendant’s motion for a new trial and her request to proceed pro se. Defendant was found guilty of one count of simple assault following a jury trial. After Defendant’s motion for a new trial was denied, Defendant appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the evidence was sufficient to support Defendant’s conviction, and therefore, the trial justice did not err in denying Defendant’s motion for a new trial; and (2) the trial justice did not err in concluding that Defendant had not made the “requisite intelligent and knowing decision to discharge counsel” and in therefore denying Defendant’s request to discharge her attorneys. View "State v. Withers" on Justia Law

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The phrase “serious bodily harm” in the youthful offender statute, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 119, 54 contemplates harm to human beings, not animals. A grand jury returned two youthful offender indictments against Juvenile, charging him with cruelty to animals and bestiality. The juvenile court allowed Juvenile’s motion to dismiss, ruling that the phrase “serious bodily harm” in the youthful offender statute refers only to human victims. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the “serious bodily harm” referenced in the statute does not apply to animals, and therefore, Juvenile’s conduct did not meet the requirements of the statute. View "Commonwealth v. J.A." on Justia Law