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Border Patrol agents may conduct a canine sniff to search for drugs or concealed aliens at immigration checkpoints so long as the sniff does not lengthen the stop beyond the time necessary to verify the immigration status of a vehicle's passengers. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of a motion to suppress evidence found during an immigration-checkpoint stop. Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the government, the court held that the canine sniff here did not prolong the immigration stop. In this case, defendant did not dispute that the stop lasted approximately 30 seconds where border patrol agents asked defendant about his citizenship, cargo, and travel, all of which were permissible. The court also noted that defendant gave valid consent to the search. View "United States v. Tello" on Justia Law

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Wandahsega was convicted of abusive sexual contact, 18 U.S.C. 2244(a)(5), after Wandahsega’s then-six-year-old son, H.D.W., told his grandmother and others that Wandahsega had touched him inappropriately. Wandahsega and H.D.W. are Native Americans and lived on the Hannahville Reservation. After his mother’s death, H.D.W. split his time between his maternal grandparents and Wandahsega’s apartment. Wandahsega denied touching his son but said that he sometimes blacks out from drinking and did not know what, if anything, he might have done to H.D.W. The Michigan State Police Forensic Laboratory found saliva on the inside rear portion of a pair of H.D.W.’s underwear, and testing established that the saliva contained a mixture of both H.D.W.’s and Wandahsega’s DNA. The Sixth Circuit affirmed Wandahsega’s conviction and 288-month sentence, rejecting an argument that the district court erred in allowing H.D.W. to testify by closed-circuit television and upholding the district court’s evidentiary rulings concerning the testimony of medical professionals and others about what H.D.W. told them. The court upheld the district court’s decision to deny Wandahsega the opportunity to present to the jury a video of a supervised visit between H.D.W. and Wandahsega. The evidence was sufficient to support the conviction and the sentence is procedurally and substantively reasonable. View "United States v. Wandahsega" on Justia Law

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Grandberry was charged with unlawful possession of a dirk or dagger while confined in state prison with prior strike offenses: a 1996 conviction for first-degree murder and a 1988 conviction for second-degree robbery. During a random search, Officers Acosta and Miller went to Grandberry’s cell, escorted Grandberry to an empty dayroom and conducted an unclothed body search. Acosta noticed Grandberry’s boxer shorts were actually two pairs sewn together, with a manufactured weapon nested between them. Acosta did not announce he had found a weapon but placed the weapon and underwear in his pocket and allowed Grandberry to get dressed. Miller testified he understood from Acosta’s actions that contraband had been found. The officers placed Grandberry in a holding cell until he could be processed into administrative segregation. At a classification hearing, Grandberry reportedly stated: “I know I messed up.” The correctional caseworker included the quote in the report but the “chrono,” which is provided to inmates for appeals, did not include it. A jury found Grandberry guilty; the court sentenced him to nine years, to run consecutively to his 84-years-to-life sentence. The court of appeal affirmed, rejecting Grandberry’s claim that the court erred in instructing the jury (CALCRIM 361) that it could draw an unfavorable inference from his failure to explain or deny incriminating evidence. Grandberry argued that he did explain or deny all of the evidence against him and the instruction violated his due process rights by unreasonably favoring the prosecution. View "People v. Grandberry" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court issued a permanent writ of mandamus ordering the circuit court to reinstate Gary Sampson's previous probationary term, holding that the circuit court erred in placing Sampson on a third term of probation. In his writ of mandamus seeking his immediate discharge from probation Sampson argued that the circuit court lost authority by placing him on a third term of probation and therefore erred by overruling his motion to be discharged from probation and setting the matter for a probation violation hearing. The Supreme Court agreed that the circuit court erred by placing Sampson on a third term of probation but, because it was unclear whether the circuit court had authority to conduct a probation violation hearing or whether Sampson's probation expired statutorily, the circuit court was required to enter an order continuing Sampson's valid second term of probation. View "State ex rel. Sampson v. Honorable William E. Hickle" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court exercised its discretion not to dismiss this appeal as moot and held that the circuit court erred in placing Trevor Griffith, who had already been discharged from parole, on a third term of probation. Griffith filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus seeking an immediate release from custody and to be discharged from probation. Specifically, Griffith argued that the circuit court exceeded its authority after revoking and terminating his second term of probation and executing his sentence. After this case was submitted, Griffith was released from his incarceration and discharged from parole. The Supreme Court held (1) the circuit court erred in placing Griffith on a third term of probation; (2) when a circuit court places a defendant on an erroneous third term of probation, the case should be remanded to determine the proper course of the defendant's sentence; and (3) because Griffith had been released and discharged, he should not be returned to custody to make this determination. View "State ex rel. Griffith v. Precythe" on Justia Law

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Wendy and Daryl Yurek were charged with tax evasion and bankruptcy fraud. After a joint jury trial, the Yureks were convicted on both offenses. The district court then sentenced Mrs. Yurek to a prison term of 27 months, leading her to appeal the conviction and sentence. On appeal, Mrs. Yurek challenged the sufficiency of the evidence presented against her, and claimed the district court erred in denying her motions for severance and a new trial. The Tenth Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part: affirming Mrs. Yurek’s conviction, but vacated her sentence. The Court determined the district court applied the wrong test when deciding whether to grant a mitigating-role adjustment. View "United States v. Yurek (Wendy)" on Justia Law

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Charles Farrar, a Colorado state prisoner, appealed the district court’s denial of his petition for habeas relief. Farrar’s convictions stemmed from complaints of sexual abuse. The victim was Farrar’s stepdaughter, who complained of the alleged abuse when she was in the eighth grade. Based on the girl’s account, state officials charged Farrar with over twenty counts. Farrar denied the allegations. At the trial, the girl’s testimony supplied the prosecution’s only direct evidence of Farrar’s guilt. The jury found Mr. Farrar guilty of numerous counts of sexual assault and one count of child abuse, and the state trial court sentenced Mr. Farrar to prison for a minimum of 145 years and a maximum of life. In district court, Farrar claimed: actual innocence, deprivation of due process based on the recantation of a key prosecution witness, and deprivation of due process based on a state appellate decision establishing an overly restrictive standard for a new trial. The district court denied relief, and the Tenth Circuit affirmed based on three conclusions: (1) actual innocence did not supply a freestanding basis for habeas relief; (2) a private citizen’s false testimony did not violate the Constitution unless the government knew that the testimony is false; (3) the alleged error in the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision did not justify habeas relief. View "Farrar v. Raemisch" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed Defendant's conviction of aggravated criminal mischief and did not reach the State's claim of error on cross-appeal, holding that the evidence was sufficient for the jury to rationally find and conclude that the State proved each element of the offense of aggravated criminal mischief beyond a reasonable doubt. On appeal, Defendant argued that the State had not proved that he had damaged the "property of another" - a critical element of aggravated criminal mischief. On cross-appeal, the State challenged the denial of its motion to correct the sentence because the court did not order restitution. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) the jury rationally could have inferred that Defendant intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly caused damage to the property of another; and (2) because the State failed to file an appeal and obtain the written approval of the Attorney General to appeal the court's decision, this Court did not reach the State's claim of error. View "State v. Ouellette" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated Defendant's convictions for failure to sign a criminal summons, refusing to submit to arrest by physical force, and assault, holding that the trial court abused its discretion by excluding from evidence a cellphone video taken by the defendant's sister that showed some of the events that occurred during Defendant's arrest. Specifically, the Court held (1) because the trial court did not rely on Me. R. Evid. 403 when excluding the video at issue and because the video was properly authenticated, the court's refusal to admit the video so that the jury could view it was an abuse of discretion; and (2) the trial court's exclusion of the video was not harmless error. View "State v. Hussein" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court summarily dismissing Appellant's petition for post-conviction review alleging ineffective assistance of counsel in his probation revocation matter but that Appellant may file a motion for a new probation revocation hearing in the trial court within thirty-five days of the issuance of this mandate. The trial court concluded that Appellant's remedy for any claim of error arising from the revocation was to seek a discretionary appeal, as Appellant had already done. The Supreme Judicial Court held (1) in a probation revocation hearing, a defendant has a right to the effective assistance of counsel; (2) Appellant's motion was properly dismissed, but Appellant was deprived of an opportunity to obtain meaningful review on his claim; and (3) a defendant who seeks to raise a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel after a probation revocation hearing may do so by filing a motion under Rule 33 of the Maine Rules of Unified Criminal Procedure for a new trial, which must be filed thirty-five days after the entry of judgment, and the judge who issued the revocation judgment will, if the defendant has made out a prima facie claim of ineffective assistance, will hold an evidentiary hearing or dismiss the motion. View "Petgrave v. State" on Justia Law