by
The Fourth Circuit affirmed Defendants Zelaya, Ordonez-Vega, Sosa, and Gavidia's convictions of participating in a racketeering conspiracy under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO); Zelaya, Ordonez-Vega, and Sosa's conviction of committing violent crimes in aid of racketeering (VICAR) and using a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence; and Gavidia's sentence. The court held that the district court did not err by denying defendants' motions for acquittal under Rule 29; the district court correctly defined the "purpose" element in its jury instructions regarding the VICAR offense; there was no error in the admission of testimony from two New York police officers; the district court did not err by refusing to sever Sosa and Gavidia's trials from the trials of Zelaya and Ordonez-Vega; Sosa and Gavidia were not entitled to mistrials; and Gavidia's sentence was substantively and procedurally reasonable. View "United States v. Zelaya" on Justia Law

by
Hudson pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. The Seventh Circuit corrected two conditions of supervised release, holding that resentencing was not required. Hudson's presentence investigation report included several potential conditions of supervised release, with radio buttons recommending conditions: “you shall refrain from any or excessive use of alcohol (defined as having a blood alcohol concentration greater than 0.08%).” Hudson’s attorney did not object. The corresponding condition in the subsequent written judgment differed from the PSR, failing to check the definitional box. A condition prohibiting “excessive” alcohol use, without definition, is impermissibly vague. The Seventh Circuit described the situation as “an obvious scrivener’s error” because nothing indicated the judge intended to deviate from that definition. The district court also stated, “Once Mr. Hudson is released from custody, he will be directed to remain within the jurisdiction in which he is being supervised, unless he is granted permission to leave.” Hudson’s attorney requested the condition include Indiana, where Hudson’s wife lives. The court agreed, but the written judgment simply states, “you shall remain within the jurisdiction where you are being supervised unless granted permission to leave.” The Seventh Circuit stated that the better term to use in this condition is “judicial district,” rather than “jurisdiction” and that the failure to include the district in which Hudson’s wife resides was another obvious technical oversight. An oral sentence controls over a written one whenever the two conflict. View "United States v. Hudson" on Justia Law

by
Appellant Albert Turner was convicted of capital murder for killing his wife and mother-in-law during the same criminal transaction. The jury answered the special issues in such a manner that Appellant was sentenced to death. Direct appeal to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals was automatic. The Court remanded this case for a retrospective competency hearing, and later ordered supplemental briefing on the effect, if any, of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in McCoy v. Louisiana, 138 S.Ct. 1500 (2018). The Court of Criminal Appeals concluded Appellant was competent to stand trial, but also concluded that defense counsel conceded Appellant’s guilt of murder against Appellant’s wishes in violation of McCoy. Consequently, Appellant's conviction was reversed and the matter remanded for a new trial. View "Turner v. Texas" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff filed suit alleging that a county deputy was deliberately indifferent to Jeffry Alan Barton's serious medical needs and that the county jail administrator failed to adequately train or supervise the deputy. Plaintiff also alleged that the county did not adequately train its detention facility workers and that its policies failed to ensure that detainees received adequate medical care. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of qualified immunity to the deputy where a jury could find that Barton was experiencing a medical need so obvious that a layperson would recognize the need for prompt medical attention, the deputy did not perform the healthcare screening the jail policies required, and it was clearly established at the time that booking Barton into jail would constitute deliberate indifference. The court reversed the denial of qualified immunity to the administrator and held that the administrator did not know that the deputy was inadequately trained or supervised. Finally, the court dismissed the county's appeal for lack of jurisdiction. View "Barton v. Ledbetter" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court dismissed as moot Petitioner’s appeal from a judgment of a single justice of the court denying his petition for relief pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3, holding that the appeal was moot in the sense that the relief Petitioner sought could no longer be granted. Petitioner, an inmate, filed a complaint seeking review of an inmate disciplinary report against him. At issue was the denial of Petitioner’s motion to amend the complaint. A single justice of the Appeals Court denied Petitioner’s petition seeking interlocutory review of the superior court judge’s denial of the motion. Petitioner then filed a petition in the county court seeking relief from the superior court’s order. After the single justice denied relief, the underlying disciplinary report was dismissed and the guilty finding was expunged from Petitioner’s administrative record. The Supreme Judicial Court dismissed as moot Petitioner’s appeal from the judgment of the single justice because the relief Petitioner sought - leave to amend his complaint - could no longer be granted. View "Hudson v. Superintendent, Massachusetts Correctional Institution, Concord" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court denying Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence gathered from a vehicle after a traffic stop, holding that sufficient evidence did not exist for an extended stop. Defendant was charged with drug-related offenses. Defendant filed motion to suppress evidence obtained after a traffic stop. The district court denied the motion, concluding that the police officer had sufficient facts to expand the traffic stop into a drug investigation and particularized suspicion to justify a canine search of the vehicle’s exterior. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the officer lacked the particularized suspicion required to extend the traffic stop into a drug investigation, and the stop violated Mont. Code Ann. 46-5-403; and (2) the extension of the stop to request a search by a K-9 unit violated the constitutional prohibition against unreasonable searches. View "State v. Wilson" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court granted the writ of prohibition sought by Petitioner, the prosecuting attorney of Jackson County, to prohibit the Circuit Court of Jackson County from enforcing its order suppressing all evidence of text messages between the defendant in the underlying criminal case and an accountant for the company from which she allegedly embezzled $306,000, holding that the circuit court committed a clear error of law in prohibiting the admission at trial of the text messages. The circuit court found that W. Va. R. Evid. 408 precluded the admission of the text messages. On appeal, the State argued that although Rule 408 may be applicable in criminal proceedings, the text messages were not statements made for civil settlement purposes, and therefore, they should have been admitted at trial. The Supreme Court agreed, holding that because the text messages were not exchanged in the context of civil settlement negotiations, the circuit court erred in denying admission of the text messages. View "State ex rel. Franklin v. Honorable R. Craig Tatterson" on Justia Law

by
Defendant appealed from a judgment entered following Proposition 47 resentencing on the sole remaining felony conviction in the present case. The trial court originally sentenced him to a consecutive term of eight months and dismissed six prior prison term enhancements. After the other felony convictions comprising the aggregate sentence had been reduced to misdemeanors pursuant to Proposition 47, on the remaining felony conviction the trial court resentenced defendant to prison for eight years. On remand from the California Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal vacated its prior decision and remanded pursuant to People v. Buycks, (2018) 5 Cal.5th 857, for resentencing with directions to strike the three prior prison term enhancements based on felony convictions that were reduced to misdemeanors under Proposition 47. The court affirmed in all other respects. View "People v. Acosta" on Justia Law

by
From 2008-2016, Brennan and Dyer (Defendants) operated Broad Street, to incorporate Tennessee corporations (Scenic City). They claimed that once Scenic City was appropriately capitalized, Defendants would register its common stock with the SEC using Form 10, would publicly trade Scenic City, and would acquire small businesses as a legal reverse merger. Investors sent money by mail and electronic wire from other states. Defendants moved the funds through Broad Street’s bank accounts, diverting significant funds to their personal bank accounts. They issued stock certificates and mailed them to investors, but never filed Form 10 nor completed any reverse mergers. Investors lost $4,942,070.18. Defendants reported the embezzled funds as long-term capital gains, substantially reducing their personal tax liability and treated payments to themselves from Broad Street as nontaxable distributions. For 2010-2014, Dyer owed an additional $312,799 in taxes; Brennan owed $164,542. The SEC began a civil enforcement suit under 15 U.S.C. 77(q)(a)(1), 77(q)(a)(2), 77(q)(a)(3), and 78j(b), and Rule 10b-5. Defendants pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, 18 U.S.C. 371, 1341 and tax evasion, 26 U.S.C 7201. The court sentenced them to prison, ordered restitution ($4,942,070.18), and ordered payments for their tax evasion. The SEC sought and the court entered a disgorgement order to be offset by the restitution ordered in the criminal case. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, rejecting an argument that the disgorgement violates the Double Jeopardy Clause under the Supreme Court’s 2017 “Kokesh” holding that disgorgement, in SEC enforcement proceedings, "operates as a penalty under [28 U.S.C.] 2462.” SEC civil disgorgement is not a criminal punishment. View "United States v. Dyer" on Justia Law

by
This case involves the death of four-year-old MB, the daughter of petitioner Mark Friend’s girlfriend. During an interview with law enforcement on the day that MB was transported to the hospital (and before she died), Friend admitted to striking and throwing MB several times in the prior few days. Friend was ultimately charged with (1) first-degree murder-victim under twelve, position of trust; (2) child abuse resulting in death; (3) child abuse resulting in death- pattern of conduct; (4) two counts of child abuse causing serious bodily injury; and (5) child abuse causing serious bodily injury- pattern of conduct. In pleading each of these counts, the information generally tracked the language of the pertinent statutory provisions, but it did not indicate the specific facts supporting each count. This case principally presented two double jeopardy questions: (1) whether the child abuse statute, section 18-6-401, C.R.S. (2018), prescribed more than one unit of prosecution and whether the prosecution presented sufficient evidence to establish that petitioner committed more than one crime of child abuse; and (2) whether child abuse resulting in death under sections 18-6-401(1)(a) and (7)(a)(1), was a lesser included offense of first-degree murder of a child under section 18-3-102(1)(f), C.R.S. (2018) (“child abuse murder”). As to the first double jeopardy question presented here, the Colorado Supreme Court concluded the appellate court correctly determined that section 18-6-401 created one crime of child abuse that can be committed in alternative ways; each of the child abuse convictions must merge into one conviction for child abuse resulting in death. As to the second double jeopardy question at issue, The Supreme Court concluded the lower court erred in determining that Friend’s merged child abuse resulting in death conviction did not merge into his child abuse murder conviction. The Court therefore affirmed in part and reversed in part the lower court’s judgment. View "Friend v. Colorado" on Justia Law