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Coleman was convicted for a 1994 armed robbery, home invasion, residential burglary, and aggravated sexual assault. Three witnesses linked Coleman to the crimes. The court sentenced Coleman to 60 years’ imprisonment. Fifteen years later, a group of men came forward claiming they were responsible for the crimes. The Illinois Supreme Court vacated Coleman’s convictions and remanded for retrial. Rather than retry the case, the prosecution dropped it. Coleman was released in 2013; a later judicial order certified his innocence. Coleman sued the City of Peoria and four police officers, claiming that they elicited a false statement from an alleged accomplice through coercive interrogation techniques, employed improper and unduly suggestive identification procedures, and suppressed impeachment evidence. After three years of civil litigation, the district court granted defendants summary judgment on Coleman’s federal claims and state law malicious prosecution claim. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. Coleman failed to present evidence supporting a reasonable inference that defendants knowingly fabricated false evidence, caused unreliable eyewitness identifications to taint his criminal trial, withheld material evidence, or arrested him without probable cause. A vacated criminal conviction does not automatically establish that an individual’s constitutional rights were violated, or that police officers and prosecutors are necessarily liable under 42 U.S.C. 1983. View "Coleman v. Peoria" on Justia Law

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The juvenile court found E.P. committed second degree burglary, possessed graffiti tools, received stolen property, and illegally possessed an alcoholic beverage. The Court of Appeal initially concluded that the evidence was insufficient to show that E.P. committed burglary when he stole items from locker rooms in a public ice hockey facility because the prosecution failed to prove that E.P. did not commit the new crime of shoplifting, as defined in Proposition 47. Because E.P. was not charged with shoplifting, the Court also concluded there was no bar to charging him with receiving stolen property. After the Court of Appeal issued its opinion, the California Supreme Court in California v. Colbert, 6 Cal.5th 596 (2019), held that “entering an interior room that is objectively identifiable as off-limits to the public with intent to steal therefrom is not shoplifting, but instead remains punishable as burglary.” The Supreme Court transferred the matter to the Court of Appeal with directions to vacate its decision and reconsider the case in light of Colbert. After review, the appellate court found Colbert did not change its conclusion that the prosecution failed to prove E.P. committed burglary. The evidence showed the locker rooms of the public ice hockey facility were not “objectively identifiable as off-limits to the public.” Accordingly, the Court reversed the finding E.P. committed burglary, but affirmed the findings he received stolen property and illegally possessed an alcoholic beverage. View "In re E.P." on Justia Law

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Louisville police watched 2429 Elliott Avenue based on a tip that Shanklin was growing marijuana there. The tip came from a “reliable confident[i]al informant,” who stated that within the last 48 hours, he/she had seen “numerous” marijuana plants inside the residence and that he/she believed that Shanklin was the “only occupant.” McKinney and other officers observed Shanklin exit the house and enter a vehicle. McKinney followed Shanklin to a parking lot. McKinney and other officers approached Shanklin, confirmed his identity, and had a K-9 sniff Shanklin’s car. The dog alerted. A search of the car revealed a small amount of marijuana leaves in the trunk. Other officers watched the residence to ensure that no one exited or entered. An officer testified that when he approached the house, he observed marijuana plants in the backyard and noticed a “strong smell of marijuana.” McKinney obtained a search warrant. The subsequent search uncovered 51 marijuana plants, a marijuana pipe, a digital scale, letters addressed to Shanklin, and personal items associated with Shanklin, including car registrations, photographs, and a prescription. There were a few bills addressed to Shanklin’s mother and others. In the “front bedroom,” officers located a loaded pistol on the nightstand, a digital scale, and a magazine focusing on growing marijuana. Shanklin was convicted under Kentucky law for cultivating marijuana but was found not guilty of a firearm enhancement. The Sixth Circuit affirmed Shanklin’s conviction as a felon in possession of a firearm (18 U.S.C. 922(g)(1); 924(a)(2)) and 63-month sentence. The court upheld the denial of Shanklin’s motion to compel the government to disclose the identity of the confidential informant and the application of a sentencing enhancement for using or possessing a firearm “in connection with another felony offense. The government provided sufficient identification evidence to sustain Shanklin’s conviction. View "United States v. Shanklin" on Justia Law

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In 2006, Williams pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm. He had prior convictions under Ohio law: attempted felonious assault, domestic violence, and assault on a peace officer, which subjected him to a mandatory-minimum sentence of 180 months’ imprisonment under the Armed Career Criminal Act, 18 U.S.C. 924(e) (ACCA). Williams twice unsuccessfully filed 28 U.S.C. 2255 petitions to vacate his sentence. In 2015, (Johnson) the Supreme Court found the ACCA's residual clause, section 924(e)(2)(B)(ii), unconstitutional and subsequently held that Johnson had announced a new substantive rule of constitutional law that applies retroactively to cases on collateral review. Williams filed a third motion, arguing that his prior convictions no longer counted as ACCA predicate offenses. The Sixth Circuit authorized the district court to consider whether Williams’ felonious assault conviction still qualifies as an ACCA violent felony, noting its 2012 holding (Anderson), that committing felonious assault in Ohio necessarily requires the use of physical force and is an ACCA predicate offense under the elements clause. The district court then held, and the Sixth Circuit agreed, that Anderson remained controlling precedent. The Sixth Circuit, en banc, subsequently overruled Anderson and held that a conviction for Ohio felonious assault no longer categorically qualifies as a violent felony predicate under the ACCA’s elements clause. The court then remanded Williams’ case. View "Williams v. United States" on Justia Law

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Richard Austin appealed a trial court order finding him in violation of a special condition of parole (condition 25) restricting him from contacting the "crime victim(s)," specified as "Lisa [H.] or Brent [M.]" According to Austin, a later order in the case made clear that the "crime victim" in that case was Brent, not Lisa. Austin claimed this order had a preclusive effect as to the meaning of parole condition 25, or at a minimum that condition 25 was unconstitutionally vague and overbroad. Austin did not contend a properly worded no-contact condition restricting contact with Lisa would be invalid. Rather, he argued the condition was vague as written, particularly in light of the finding in the underlying case that Lisa was never a protected party. The Court of Appeal concurred with Austin's argument with respect to the parole condition, reversed and remanded for further proceedings at the trial court to determined whether to modify the special condition. View "California v. Austin" on Justia Law

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Randell Jackson was charged with disorderly conduct, assault, and resisting arrest after a 2012 interaction with three police officers in Haines, Alaska. Amy Williams, an assistant district attorney, first prosecuted Jackson on these charges, but her efforts resulted in a mistrial. James Scott, the Juneau district attorney, oversaw the second round of proceedings against Jackson, which led to his conviction and sentencing. Jackson appealed his convictions in March 2016 to the superior court, which reversed his conviction for disorderly conduct but affirmed his assault and resisting arrest convictions. Jackson brought civil claims against the prosecutors who secured his convictions, alleging they committed various torts and violated his constitutional right to due process. The superior court dismissed his state and federal claims, concluding that the prosecutors enjoyed absolute immunity. The Alaska Supreme Court agreed the prosecutors were protected by absolute immunity from both the state and federal claims because they were acting in their official capacity as advocates for the State when they committed the acts that gave rise to the complaint. View "Jackson v. Borough of Haines, et al." on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for possession of more than 500 grams of methamphetamine. The court held that the evidence was sufficient to convict defendant where a reasonable jury could conclude, based on the large amount of easily discoverable meth in defendant's truck, that he knew it was sitting with his cargo; the district court did not err by denying the motion to suppress where the officers' use of a dog sniff was reasonable both because defendant consented to a search and because the extension of the stop was de minimis in light of his consent; and the district court did not err in rejecting defendant's proposed mere presence instruction because the instructions it gave adequately covered his theory of defense. View "United States v. Leon" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit affirmed defendant's 24 month sentence for violating his terms of supervised release. The court held that the sentencing judge reviewed and explained defendant's "very extensive" and "horrible" criminal record, as well as his repeated violations of the terms imposed on him by the current sentencing judge and others during his brief periods out of prison. Furthermore, the sentencing judge did not rely on mistakes of fact or plainly err in calculating his criminal history. The court considered defendant's remaining claims of error and rejected them. View "United States v. Duckett" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's order denying defendant's motion to suppress. Police officers investigating a domestic disturbance confiscated a suspect's cell phone and held it for two days before eventually obtaining a warrant to search it. The court held that the seizure was not justified on the ground that the officers had reasonable suspicion to believe that the phone's owner was engaged in criminal wrongdoing and thus this was not a permissible Terry stop. However, the court held that the officers had probable cause to believe not only that the phone's owner had committed a crime and that the phone contained evidence of that crime, but also that the suspect would likely destroy that evidence before they could procure a warrant. View "United States v. Babcock" on Justia Law

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Defendant was convicted of indecent exposure. Because the conviction was his sixth one, the offense was a felony and he was sentenced to 7 years in prison. In the published portion of the opinion, the Court of Appeal held that the Legislature did not intend for Penal Code section 1001.36 to apply retroactively to defendants whose cases have already progressed beyond the stage of trial, adjudication of guilt, and sentencing. View "People v. Craine" on Justia Law