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Defendant challenged his conviction for mayhem, contending that the trial court engaged in improper judicial factfinding to determine that his prior conviction of assault from 1991 under Penal Code section 245, subdivision (a)(1), was a serious felony and a strike under California's "Three Strikes" law, violating his Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial. The Court of Appeal held that the trial court erred in relying upon the preliminary hearing transcript to support the finding that the prior felony was a serious felony. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "People v. Hudson" on Justia Law

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After remand from the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal reaffirmed defendants' convictions and order modifications. The court directed the trial court on remand to hold a hearing on ability to pay. The court also remanded for resentencing. The court directed the trial court to consider, in light of People v. Contreras, (2018) 4 Cal.5th 349, any mitigating circumstances of Defendant Moreland's crimes and life, and the impact of any new legislation and regulations on appropriate sentencing. The court also directed the trial court to impose a time by which Moreland could seek parole. View "People v. Adams" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the sentence imposed upon Defendant, a convicted fraudster, particularly the restitution order entered pursuant to the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act (MVRA), 18 U.S.C. 3663A, in the amount of $581,880, holding that the district court satisfied the requirements of the MVRA. Defendant pleaded guilty to seven counts of mail fraud and two counts of visa fraud. The government sought a total of $581,880 in restitution on behalf of 368 victims. The district court adopted the government’s calculations and ordered restitution accordingly. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) both the district court and the First Circuit had jurisdiction over the matter; and (2) there was no abuse of discretion in the order of restitution. View "United States v. Naphaeng" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s sentence of 276 months in prison for conspiracy to commit kidnapping, holding that the sentence was neither procedurally flawed nor substantively unreasonable. After Defendant pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit kidnapping, the district court imposed a below-guidelines sentence. On appeal, Defendant challenged the sentence’s procedural and substantive reasonableness. The First Circuit affirmed the sentence, holding (1) the ransom-demand enhancement under section 2A4.1(b)(1) of the guidelines was not plain error; (2) Defendant’s arguments regarding the judge not expressly ruling on his objections to the presentence report’s inclusion of a two-level obstruction-of-justice enhancement and rejection of a two-level minor-role reduction did not amount to procedural unreasonableness; and (3) Defendant’s sentence was substantively reasonable. View "United States v. Romero" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit denied Petitioner’s application seeking permission to file a successive motion under 28 U.S.C. 2255 to vacate her conviction and sentence for possessing a destructive device during and in relation to and in furtherance of a crime of violence, holding that Petitioner’s application did not meet the requirements for certification of a successive section 2255 motion. Petitioner sought to file this successive motion in 2016 following the Supreme Court’s decision in Johnson v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 2551 (2015). Petitioner then supplemented her motion after Sessions v. Dimaya, 138 S. Ct. 1204 (2018), was decided. Petitioner hoped to argue in the district court that the rule announced in Johnson and reiterated in Dimaya rendered the definition of “crime of violence” under which she was convicted unconstitutionally void for vagueness. The First Circuit denied the application, holding that Johnson’s rule, reaffirmed in Dimaya, did not extend to Petitioner’s conviction under 924(c)’s residual clause. View "Brown v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction for aggravated assault but modified his sentence, holding that the evidence was sufficient to support the conviction but the trial court erred in sentencing Defendant to enhanced punishment because Defendant did not receive proper notice of the State’s intention to seek enhanced sentencing. Defendant was convicted of aggravated assault and sentenced as a career offender. Defendant unsuccessfully objected to his classification as a career offender based on the State’s failure to file a pre-trial notice of intent to seek enhanced punishment. In its oral sentencing findings, the trial court noted that Defendant had the requisite prior convictions to qualify as a career offender and that, in a prior case, the State had filed a proper notice. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed the sentence and remanded for entry of a corrected judgment, holding (1) a new enhancement notice must be filed in a separate case that is wholly unrelated to a prior case in which the State provides such notice; and (2) having received no properly filed notice of the State’s intent to seek enhanced punishment, Defendant was entitled to relief. View "State v. Williams" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court overruling Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence obtained from a traffic stop, holding that this was an investigatory traffic stop supported by reasonable suspicion. Defendant moved to suppress the evidence obtained from the search of his car, arguing that the law enforcement officer did not have probable cause or reasonable suspicion to initiate the traffic stop. The district court found that the traffic stop was supported by probable cause and overruled the motion to suppress. The Supreme Court affirmed, although its reasoning differed from that of the district court, holding that the investigatory stop of Defendant’s car was supported by reasonable suspicion and was therefore constitutional. View "State v. Barbeau" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court convicting Defendant of operating while intoxicated (OWI), holding that the stop of the van in which Defendant was a passenger violated Iowa Const. art. I, section 8. After responding to a dispatch report of a vehicle in a roadside ditch, officers saw a van pass by on the road. Discovering that the van’s license plate was registered to another member of the same household that the vehicle in the ditch had been registered to, the officers followed the van and pulled it over. The driver of the car that had gone into the ditch was riding as a passenger in the van. That person, Defendant, was convicted of OWI. Defendant appealed the denial of his motion to suppress, arguing that the stop of the van was not permissible under the community caretaking doctrine. The Supreme Court agreed and reversed Defendant’s conviction and sentence, holding that the community caretaking exception did not apply under article I, section 8. View "State v. Smith" on Justia Law

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At issue was the correct interpretation of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 279, 25(a), which requires that a “habitual criminal” - or an individual who has been convicted of a felony and has two prior convictions resulting in state or federal prison sentences of three years or more - be sentenced to the maximum term provided by law on the underlying conviction. Defendant was indictment of a variety of charges. All but two of the indictments carried sentencing enhancements under 25(a). The judge allowed Defendant’s motion to dismiss the section 25(a) sentence enhancement charges, concluding that Defendant’s predicate convictions represented a single “incident” under section 25(a). The Supreme Judicial Court overruled in part Commonwealth v. Pelletier, 449 Mass. 392, 395-396 (2007), holding (1) although the predicate convictions must arise from separate incidents or episodes, the offenses need not be separately prosecuted; and (2) Mass. R. Crim. P. 15(a)(1) and Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 278, 28E grant the Commonwealth a right to appeal from the dismissal of the sentence enhancement portion of an indictment. View "Commonwealth v. Ruiz" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court held that the widespread evidence tampering of chemist Sonja Farak at the State Laboratory Institute in Amherst at the campus of the University of Massachusetts compromised the integrity of thousands of drug convictions and that her misconduct, compounded by prosecutorial misconduct, requires that the Court exercise its superintendence authority and vacate and dismiss all criminal convictions tainted by governmental wrongdoing. Farak stole and used for her own use drugs submitted to the lab for testing and consumed drug “standards” required for testing. Members of the Attorney General’s office deceptively withheld exculpatory evidence on the matter. Petitioners sought dismissal of thousands of cases tainted by governmental wrongdoing. The Supreme Judicial Court held that the class of “Farak defendants” includes all defendants who were found guilty of a drug charge where Farak signed the certificate of analysis, the conviction was based on methamphetamine and the drugs were tested during Farak’s tenure at the Amherst lab, or the drugs were tested at the Amherst lab during a certain period regardless of who signed the certificate of analysis. The Court also recommended that the standing advisory committee on the rules of criminal procedure propose amendments to Rule 14 of the Massachusetts Rules of Criminal Procedure to include a Brady checklist and any other beneficial modifications. View "Committee for Public Counsel Services v. Attorney General" on Justia Law