Justia Criminal Law Opinion Summaries

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The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's grant of defendant's motion to dismiss a petition to have him civilly committed under the Sexually Violent Predators Act (SVPA), because he was deprived of his due process right to a speedy trial.Applying the four factors in the Barker analysis, the court held that neither the length of the delay, the assertion of the right, the reasons for the delay, or prejudice is a necessary or sufficient condition to the finding of a deprivation of the right of speedy trial. Rather, the court held that they are related factors and must be considered together with such other circumstances as may be relevant. In this case, the trial court engaged in that balancing process and concluded that the state had failed defendant. Whether the court reviewed this determination under the abuse of discretion standard or, as the People assert, under a de novo standard, the court found no error based on the analysis. The court also held that, under the Mathews analysis, defendant's right to be free from government restraint without due process of law has been violated. The court rejected the People's cursory contention that the case should be ordered to trial and held that the trial court did not err in dismissing the petition. View "People v. DeCasas" on Justia Law

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When a parolee accepts a court's offer to admit a parole violation for a specified sentence and expressly waives his right to the preliminary and final parole hearings, he has waived his statutory right to have a preparation of a written report under Penal Code section 1203.2, subdivision (b)(1).First, the Court of Appeal held that a defendant's express waiver of his constitutional and statutory rights to a preliminary, probable cause hearing and a formal revocation hearing in order to obtain a specific disposition necessarily—albeit implicitly—includes a waiver of his statutory right to have the trial court refer the district attorney's petition to the parole agency to obtain that agency’s input regarding the appropriate disposition. Second, the court held that a defendant's waiver of the right to insist that the trial court refer the district attorney's petition to the parole agency and consider the agency's responsive report need not be express.The court affirmed the revocation order in this case where the petition to revoke parole was filed by the district attorney and the trial court did not refer that petition to the parole agency for a report before it accepted defendant's admission to a parole violation during the hearing that was originally set for the probable cause determination. View "People v. Kurianski" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the intermediate court of appeals (ICA) affirming the district court's judgment finding Defendant guilty of resisting arrest, holding that Defendant was entitled to relief on his claim that his waiver of his right to a jury trial was not knowing, intelligent, and voluntary.Defendant signed a waiver form purporting to waive his right to a jury trial on the charge of resisting arrest. The district court accepted the waiver. After a bench trial, the court found Defendant guilty of resisting arrest and several other charges. The ICA affirmed. The Supreme Court vacated the judgments of the lower courts, holding (1) the record did not reflect a discuss and exchange sufficient to satisfy the district court's responsibility of ensuring a jury trial waiver's validity; and (2) under this Court's recent decision in State v. Ernes, 465 P.3d 763 (Haw. 2020), Defendant's waiver was not properly verified as knowing, intelligent and voluntary. View "State v. Voorhees " on Justia Law

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Robert Casey was convicted by jury of possession of cocaine, for which the circuit court sentenced him to serve twenty years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections, with four years suspended pending completion of four years’ post-release supervision. Casey appealed, arguing that the trial court erred by declining to suppress cocaine found on his person and that his constitutional and statutory rights to a speedy trial were violated. Because Casey’s arguments were without merit, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed his conviction and sentence. View "Casey v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed defendant's conviction for being a felon in possession of a firearm. In United States v. Du Bo, 186 F.3d 1177, 1179 (9th Cir. 1999), an indictment missing an essential element that is properly challenged before trial must be dismissed. At issue in this appeal was whether defendant properly challenged his indictment pre-trial, thereby triggering the Du Bo rule.The panel followed its well-established obligation to construe pro se filings liberally and held that defendant properly challenged his indictment under Du Bo's automatic-dismissal rule. In this case, defendant's indictment neither tracked the language of 18 U.S.C. 922(g) nor set forth the elements of the offense, because it did not allege that he had knowledge of his felon status pursuant to Rehaif v. United States, 139 S. Ct. 2191 (2019). Therefore, the panel directed the district court to dismiss his indictment. View "United States v. Qazi" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit held that the evidence was sufficient to convict defendant of possession with intent to distribute marijuana, possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, and being a felon in possession of a firearm. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying defendant's motion for a new trial where the government's closing argument was permissible under Federal Rule of Evidence 404(b); there was no error in admitting forensic testimony by the government's experts because their testimony on the absence of DNA and fingerprints on the firearms and ammunition was relevant and helpful to the jury; and there was no error in admitting a photo of defendant in handcuffs where the district court gave a cautionary instruction.The court further held that the district court did not err by sentencing defendant as a career offender under USSG 4B1.1(a); by imposing an enhancement under USSG 2D1.1(b)(12) for maintaining a drug premises; and by imposing an enhancement under USSG 3B1.1 for leadership role in the offense. Accordingly, the court affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence. View "United States v. Jefferson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court denying Defendant's successive motion for postconviction relief filed under Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.851, holding that the circuit court properly denied relief.Defendant was found guilty of first-degree murder and was sentenced to death. In his successive postconviction motion, Defendant claimed that he was entitled to relief under Hurst v. Florida, 136 S. Ct. 616 (2016), and Hurst v. State, 202 So. 3d 40 (Fla. 2016), and that the indictment was defective because it failed to include aggravating factors. The circuit court denied relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) this Court's decision in State v. Poole, 297 So. 3d 487 (Fla. 2020), foreclosed relief on Defendant's Hurst claims; and (2) Defendant's claim that the indictment was defective was procedurally barred. View "Lott v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court denying and dismissing Appellant's pro se petition for writ of error coram nobis, holding that Appellant failed to demonstrate that the trial court abused its discretion in declining to issue the writ.Appellant pleaded guilty to robbery and first-degree battery. Appellant later filed a petition for a writ of error coram nobis, asserting that his attorney and the prosecutor conducted a scheme to deceive him into entering a guilty plea. The trial court denied relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellant's conclusory claims in support of the allegation were not a ground for the writ and that Appellant did not meet his burden of establishing that the plea was the result of fear, duress, or threats of mob violence. View "Addison v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court denying Defendant's pro se petition for a writ of error coram nobis, holding that the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in denying relief.Defendant pleaded guilty to sexual abuse and was sentenced to 360 months' imprisonment. Defendant later filed a petition for a writ of error coram nobis alleging that the prosecutor withheld material evidence from the defense in violation of Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963). The circuit court denied relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Defendant failed to demonstrate that there is a reasonable probability that the judgment of conviction would not have been rendered or would have been prevented had the allegedly withheld information been disclosed; and (2) the circuit court did not err by not conducting an evidentiary hearing on the petition. View "Wood v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted in part and denied in part Petitioner's pro se petition for writ of mandamus in which Petitioner contended that circuit court judge Dion Wilson failed to act on a petition for a previously filed writ of mandamus and amended petition for writ of mandamus, holding that Petitioner was entitled to rulings on the petitions but was not entitled to rulings granting the mandamus petitions "outright."Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) because the circuit court had not acted on the petitions, Petitioner was entitled to an order disposing of the matter underlying the mandamus petitions; but (2) Petitioner was not entitled to relief on his request that the underlying mandamus petitions be granted outright and that he be granted a hearing. View "Rodgers v. State" on Justia Law