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In California v. Woods, 19 Cal.App.5th 1080 (2018), the Court of Appeal held that Senate Bill No. 620 (and the associated amendment to Penal Code Section 12022.53, effective January 1, 2018) applied retroactively to nonfinal cases. Defendant Colleen Ann Harris filed a motion to recall the remittitur to either permit briefing on the application of Senate Bill No. 620 and the amendment to section 12022.53 to her case, which was final almost a year before the statute’s effective date, or remand the case to the trial court to exercise its discretion as to whether to strike the firearm enhancement under the amendment. Noting that recalling a remittitur is an extraordinary remedy generally available in a limited number of instances, the Court found defendant relied on a narrow exception as announced by the California Supreme Court in California v. Mutch, 4 Cal.3d 389 (1971). The Court determined the narrow exception did not apply here. Accordingly, the Court denied the motion and held a motion to recall the remittitur was not the appropriate procedural vehicle through which to seek the requested relief in cases that are final and do not involve Mutch-type circumstances. View "California v. Harris" on Justia Law

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In 2009, the New Mexico legislative and executive branches statutorily abolished capital punishment for first-degree murder, the only remaining New Mexico crime carrying a potential death sentence, for all offenses committed after July 1, 2009. Defendant Muhammad Ameer was charged with first-degree murder committed on or after July 1, 2009. In this appeal, an issue arose from the district court’s order applying the capital offense exception to the constitutional right to bail and denying Defendant any form of pretrial release. The New Mexico Supreme Court held that first-degree murder was not currently a constitutionally defined capital offense in New Mexico that would authorize a judge to categorically deny release pending trial. Following briefing and oral argument, the Supreme Court issued a bench ruling and written order reversing the district court’s detention order that had been based solely on the capital offense exception. In the same order, the Supreme Court remanded the case for the district court to consider the State’s unaddressed request for detention under the 2016 amendment to Article II, 4 Section 13 of the New Mexico Constitution, allowing courts a new and broader evidence-based authority to deny pretrial release for any felony defendant “if the prosecuting authority . . . proves by clear and convincing evidence that no release conditions will reasonably protect the safety of any other person or the community.” At that time, the Court advised its opinion would follow; this was the opinion setting forth the Court’s reasoning. View "New Mexico v. Ameer" on Justia Law

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Defendants Isaac Martinez and Carla Casias were each indicted on one count of armed robbery and one count of conspiracy to commit armed robbery. Early in the investigation of the robbery, a police detective enlisted the help of the deputy district attorney, who prepared and authorized service of what purported to be judicial subpoenas duces tecum (the subpoenas) to obtain records of calls and text messages of suspects from their cellular telephone providers. These purported subpoenas represented on their face that they were issued in the name of the Eighth Judicial District Court, although at the time of their preparation and service there was no pending prosecution, court action, or grand jury proceeding. Over signature of the deputy district attorney, some of these purported subpoenas ordered production of “Call Detail Records, and Text Message Detail” for the specified phones, all ordered subscriber information, and all ordered production to the Taos Police Department with the warning, “IF YOU DO NOT COMPLY WITH THIS SUBPOENA, you may be held in contempt of court and punished by fine or imprisonment.” These early subpoenas were filed with the district court in a miscellaneous court docket, rather than a criminal or grand jury docket, but they were styled as “State of New Mexico, Plaintiff, vs. John Doe, Defendant.” The detective used information gained from the early subpoenas to obtain search warrants for additional evidence. In this case, the New Mexico Supreme Court addressed whether a court could dismiss an indictment because evidence considered by the grand jury had been developed through use of unlawful subpoenas. The Supreme Court confirmed “almost a century of judicial precedents in New Mexico” and held that, absent statutory authorization, a court may not overturn an otherwise lawful grand jury indictment because of trial inadmissibility or improprieties in the procurement of evidence that was considered by the grand jury. View "New Mexico v. Martinez" on Justia Law

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In 2015, former Virgin Islands Senator James was charged with wire fraud, 18 U.S.C. 1343, and federal programs embezzlement, 18 U.S.C. 666(a)(1)(A), stemming from his use of legislative funds to ostensibly obtain historical documents from Denmark related to the Fireburn, an 1878 St. Croix uprising. The indictment specified: obtaining cash advances from the Legislature but retaining a portion of those funds for his personal use; double-billing for expenses for which he had already received a cash advance; submitting invoices and receiving funds for translation work that was never done; and submitting invoices and receiving funds for translation work that was completed before his election to the Legislature. James, who argued that he was engaged in legislative fact-finding, moved to dismiss the indictment on legislative immunity grounds. The district court denied the motion, stating that James’ actions were not legislative acts worthy of statutory protection under the Organic Act of the Virgin Islands. The Third Circuit affirmed. Under 48 U.S.C. 1572(d) legislators are protected from being “held to answer before any tribunal other than the legislature for any speech or debate in the legislature." The conduct underlying the government’s allegations concerning James is clearly not legislative conduct protected by section 1572(d). View "United States v. James" on Justia Law

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Contrary to the conclusions of the magistrate and the hearing justice, Defendant did not have a lifetime duty to register, but rather, his duty to register expired ten years from the expiration of his sentence for the offense of second-degree child molestation sexual assault, in accordance with R. I. Gen. Stat. 11-37.1-18 and 11.37.1-4(a). Further, Defendant’s three prior failure-to-notify convictions did not run afoul of the ex post facto clause. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss a 2012 charge for failing to notify law enforcement of a change in residence. The magistrate denied the motion, determining that Defendant had a lifetime duty to register. Defendant then filed an application for postconviction relief from his three prior failure-to-notify convictions in 2007, 2009, and 2010. A justice of the superior court denied relief, concluding that Defendant had a lifetime duty to register and that his three failure-no-notify convictions did not violate the ex post facto clause. The Supreme Court (1) affirmed the part of the magistrate’s decision denying the motion to dismiss but reversed the magistrate’s ruling that Defendant had a lifetime duty to register as a sex offender; and (2) affirmed the judgment denying postconviction relief but reversed the hearing justice’s ruling that Defendant’s obligation to register was for the remainder of his life. View "State v. Gibson" on Justia Law

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Reid pleaded guilty to conspiring to manufacture methamphetamine. The court calculated Reid’s guidelines range as 151-188 months and sentenced him to 170 months’ imprisonment. Reid’s sentence was later reduced to 145 months, following the government’s Rule 35(b) motion. In 2014, Sentencing Guidelines Amendment 782 retroactively reduced the base offense levels in USSG 2D1.1(c), under which Reid was sentenced. Reid’s amended range is 130-162 months and, because Reid was previously granted a Rule 35(b) downward departure, he was eligible for a comparable reduction to 125 months. Reid moved, under 18 U.S.C. 3582(c)(2), to reduce his sentence, citing the guideline amendments and his post-sentencing rehabilitative conduct. The government took no position but noted that Reid had incurred disciplinary sanctions while incarcerated, for possessing “drugs/alcohol” and tobacco. The court denied Reid’s motion, stating that “Defendant’s disciplinary infractions while incarcerated indicate that he has not gained respect for the law… all-the-more troubling given that Defendant was on federal supervised release when he committed the instant offense.” The Sixth Circuit dismissed his appeal, reasoning that section 3582(c)(2), grants appellate jurisdiction only when a sentence was imposed in violation of law; was imposed as a result of an incorrect application of the guidelines; is greater than the guideline range; or was imposed for an offense for which there is no guideline and is plainly unreasonable. View "United States v. Reid" on Justia Law

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As voir dire was about to commence at Bickham’s state court trial, officers cleared the public from the courtroom. Bickham’s counsel objected, citing Presley v. Georgia (2010), which established that a defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to a public trial is violated when a court excludes the public from jury selection. In response, the judge stated that removing spectators was necessary so that the jury panel of 52 people would not be intermixed with the audience, and that once the panel was in, those who fit separately from the jury could be allowed in. Counsel stated: I understand. After jury selection, counsel raised the matter again. The judge noted that only two seats had remained after the panel was seated and that no request had been made for those seats. The Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed Bickham’s convictions for second-degree murder, armed robbery, assault with intent to commit armed robbery, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, finding that Bickham procedurally defaulted his Sixth Amendment claim when he did not make a contemporaneous objection to the courtroom's closure. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of his 28 U.S.C. 2254 petition, agreeing that Bickham's claim was procedurally defaulted for failing to make a timely objection to the exclusion of the public. View "Bickham v. Winn" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit reversed defendant's sentence for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and possession of ammunition by a convicted felon. The court held that the North Dakota law for accomplice to burglary, which defendant was previously convicted of four times, was indivisible and criminalized more than the definition of "burglary" under federal law. Accordingly, the court remanded for resentencing. View "United States v. Kinney" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a Florida prisoner proceeding pro se, appealed the district court's grant of a motion to dismiss his civil rights complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477, 114 S. Ct. 2364 (1994). The Eleventh Circuit vacated the judgment, holding that the action was not barred by Heck. In this case, plaintiff was punished and lost gain time, but his 42 U.S.C. 1983 suit, if successful, would not necessarily imply that his punishment was invalid. The court explained that, because success in this section 1983 suit would not necessarily be "logically contradictory" with the underlying punishment, the suit was not barred by Heck. Therefore, the district court erred in concluding otherwise. View "Dixon v. Pollock" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals reversed the judgment of the Court of Special Appeals, which held that the police did not have probable cause to search the trunk of a car owned and driven by Respondent. The suppression court denied Respondent’s motion to suppress, ruling that, under the totality of the circumstances, the officers had reasonable suspicion that the individuals in the vehicle were involved in criminal activity, permitting the continued detention, and that by the time the officers searched the trunk of Respondent’s vehicle they had amassed probable cause - based in part on drug evidence found on the person of Respondent’s front-seat passenger - to believe the trunk contained evidence of drug-related activity. The Court of Special Appeals reversed. The Court of Appeals vacated the judgment of the Court of Special Appeals, holding that the intermediate appellate court failed to review, in their entirety, the facts and circumstances that led the police to search the trunk of Respondent’s car and instead isolated certain facts while ignoring or minimizing others. View "State v. Johnson" on Justia Law