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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction of one count of deliberate homicide and two counts of attempted deliberate homicide, holding that Defendant's ineffective assistance of counsel claim was not appropriately considered on direct appeal. On appeal, Defendant argued that his counsel provided ineffective assistance by failing to object to irrelevant, highly prejudicial evidence concerning his criminal past in two video interviews admitted at trial. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment without prejudice to Defendant raising his ineffective assistance of counsel claim in a postconviction relief proceeding, holding that the record was not sufficient to address Defendant's claim on direct appeal. View "State v. Sawyer" on Justia Law

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Defendant was convicted of one count of second degree robbery and sentenced to nine years in prison. The Court of Appeal held that defendant did not forfeit his challenge to the trial court's reimbursement order under People v. Aguilar, (2015) 60 Cal.4th 862. In this case, defendant did not receive the required notice and his failure to object to the reimbursement order did not forfeit the claim that he could not pay the fees assessed under Penal Code 987.8. The court modified the judgment to strike the order that defendant pay $1,185 in attorney's fees and affirmed in all other respects. View "People v. Rodriguez" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff challenged Westmont's Student Conduct Panel's determination that the evidence supported Jane Roe's accusation of sexual assault while plaintiff and Jane were students at the college. The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's grant of plaintiff's petition for writ of administrative mandate, holding that John did not receive a fair hearing. In this case, Westmont did not comply with its own policies and procedures where it did not hear testimony from critical witnesses, yet relied on these witnesses' prior statements to corroborate Jane's account or to impeach John's credibility. Furthermore, the Panel withheld material evidence from John, which its policies required it to turn over. The court held that John was therefore denied a meaningful opportunity to pose questions to Jane and other witnesses on material disputed facts. View "Doe v. Westmont College" on Justia Law

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The Fourth Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of a petition for habeas corpus relief under 28 U.S.C. 2255. The court held that the district court erred in substituting a previously unidentified conviction to sustain petitioner's career offender designation. Petitioner claimed ineffective assistance of counsel based on counsel's failure to challenge his designation as a career offender. In this case, the district court found that one of the predicate offenses identified by the State did not qualify as a crime of violence and thus could not support a career offender designation, but nevertheless found no prejudice from counsel's error. The district concluded that the career offender designation could be supported by another conviction in petitioner's record, even though the State did not identify this conviction as a basis for the designation at sentencing. View "United States v. Winbush" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit denied a petition for review of the BIA's order finding petitioner removable under section 237(a)(2)(A)(iii) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The panel held that petitioner's prior conviction under Oregon Revised Statutes section 164.395 was a categorical theft offense and was therefore an aggravated felony under section 101(a)(43)(G) of the INA. The panel held that the record supported the BIA's denial of relief under the Convention Against Torture where the BIA agreed with the IJ's conclusion that petitioner failed to establish that he would more likely than not face a particularized risk of torture with the acquiescence of a public official in Guatemala. View "Lopez-Aguilar v. Barr" on Justia Law

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In 2008, Aaron Copeland pled guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm. The district court imposed an enhanced sentence of 15 years in prison under the Armed Career Criminal Act (“ACCA”) based on his two prior drug offenses and one prior burglary. Copeland did not appeal. After he brought several unsuccessful motions for habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. 2255, the Tenth Circuit authorized Copeland to bring a successive Section 2255 motion to assert that his sentence was invalid under Johnson v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 2551 (2015), which held that the ACCA’s definition of violent felony in its residual clause was unconstitutionally vague. In his motion, Copeland claimed the sentencing court relied on the unconstitutional residual clause to find that his prior burglary was a violent felony and therefore the court should not have enhanced his sentence. The district court denied the motion, finding that it did not sentence Copeland under the residual clause and that his motion accordingly could not rely on Johnson. The Tenth Circuit reversed, finding Copeland showed the district court relied on the residual clause when it sentenced him in 2008. Further, the Court determined Copeland showed he should have prevailed on the merits. View "United States v. Copeland" on Justia Law

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Sixty-one year old defendant Joan Osborn has been diagnosed at different times with schizophrenia, possible depression, and possible post-traumatic stress disorder. In mid-October 2014, Defendant allegedly called a United States district court judge and left a voicemail conveying a variety of brutal and obscene threats. A grand jury subsequently indicted Defendant for threatening to assault and murder a United States judge. Based on a forensic psychologist's evaluation, defendant's disorder would interfere with her ability to assist in her own defense. The district court found Defendant incompetent to stand trial, and committed her to the custody of the Attorney General for hospitalization to gauge whether she could be restored to competency. The district court stayed its order of commitment so Defendant could appeal its competency determination to the Tenth Circuit. While that appeal was pending, the United States Marshals Service held Defendant at the Salt Lake County Jail in Utah. And while at jail, employees there forcibly injected Defendant with an antipsychotic drug against her will from approximately June to October 2016 without notifying her attorney. The district court initially ordered the jail to stop this practice after Defendant’s attorney brought an emergency motion to halt it. But after a hearing, the district court allowed the jail to continue its forcible medication of Defendant based on Washington v. Harper, 494 U.S. 210 (1990, "Harper") “after finding [that] her mental state had deteriorated so severely to the point where she presented a significant danger to herself and to other inmates and officers.” Two hearings pursuant to Sell v. United States, 539 U.S. 166 (2003) were held. Although just a little over a year prior, the district court had allowed Salt Lake County Jail officials to forcibly medicate Defendant under Harper because she was a danger, the district court concluded that “involuntary commitment pursuant to Harper is unwarranted.” After determining that the government had met each of Sell’s stringent requirements, the district court permitted the government to medicate Defendant with antipsychotic medication, every two weeks for six months. Defendant appealed the district court's order allowing her to be forcibly medicated under Sell. The issue this appeal presented to the Tenth Circuit was whether changed circumstances necessitated defendant be forcibly medicated under Harper but after the trial court already authorized forced medication under Sell. The Court held courts generally should vacate the Sell order and begin anew "armed with the findings of the intervening Harper proceedings." View "United States v. Osborn" on Justia Law

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The Bureau of Prisons (BOP) released Kopp from prison and ordered her to report to a transitional services program. Kopp disregarded that directive. Days later, she was arrested and pleaded guilty to escaping custody, 18 U.S.C. 751(a). Kopp’s Guidelines range was 15-21 months' imprisonment. The court opined that the drivers of Kopp’s criminal activity were childhood trauma and drug addiction. Kopp’s attorney noted that Kopp participated in the BOP’s Residential Drug Abuse Program (RDAP) in 2016, but had not had another opportunity for treatment. The court noted that “she runs away” and that: “We’ve got to get her some more treatment, and I’m going to try again.” Kopp’s attorney told the court that Kopp had contacted a transitional living program, a sponsor through Narcotics Anonymous, and an organization that offers addiction treatment. After Kopp spoke, the court remarked that it was like a “broken record,” and announced: “The sentence ... is 18 months.... does that give Ms. Kopp time to participate in an RDAP?” The probation officer responded: “that’s probably, like, the lowest end.” The court said: "I’m going to make it 20 months.” Kopp interjected: ”RDAP is only nine months.” The court responded: ”You have to get into it. You’ve got to find a spot for it ... I’m going to make it 20 months.” The Seventh Circuit vacated. The district court improperly lengthened Kopp’s sentence to promote rehabilitation in violation of the Supreme Court’s 2011 “Tapia” holding and 18 U.S.C. 3582(a). View "United States v. Kopp" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction of three counts of second-degree sexual abuse of a minor and three counts of third-degree abuse of a minor, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in admitting the victims' prior consistent statements and that there was sufficient evidence to support Defendant's convictions for second-degree sexual abuse of a minor. On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court erred in admitting portions of the victims' Child Advocacy Project interview statements. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding (1) the district court did not abuse its discretion in admitting the prior consistent statements for rehabilitative purposes; and (2) there was sufficient evidence of sexual gratification to support Defendant's convictions for second-degree sexual abuse of a minor and that Defendant's argument concerning whether he touched one victim's "intimate parts" misstated the record. View "Jones v. State" 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 after convicting Defendant of of assault and battery resulting in serious bodily injury and possession of a knife with a blade of more than three inches, holding that the trial justice did not err in denying Defendant's motion for a new trial. In his motion for a new trial, Defendant argued that the trial justice overlooked and misconceived material evidence when he agreed with the jury's verdict because the trial justice did not take into account that Defendant had to appreciate that he knowingly had an opportunity to retreat in safety. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the trial justice more than adequately performed his role under each step of the analysis of Defendant's motion for a new trial. View "State v. Guerrero" on Justia Law