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A jury convicted Everett Moore of second-degree murder for the 2015 shooting and killing Norris Smith. The Circuit Court sentenced Moore to thirty years’ imprisonment. A majority of the Mississippi Supreme Court determined the trial court erred by denying Moore the circumstantial evidence jury instruction to which he was entitled. Thus, it reversed his conviction and remanded the case for a new trial. View "Moore v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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In July 2014, a jury found Dominic Robinson guilty of three counts of aggravated assault, and he was sentenced to serve a total of thirty years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. Robinson appealed his convictions, arguing that the trial court erred in its evidentiary rulings and instructions to the jury and that his convictions were not supported by the weight of the evidence. In addition to those issues, which were raised by the Office of Indigent Appeals, Robinson filed a pro se supplemental brief raising eleven additional assignments of error. Finding no reversible error, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed Robinson’s convictions and sentences. View "Robinson v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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The New Jersey Supreme Court found that counsel for both sides raised an intriguing question in this case: whether an identification made by a law enforcement officer should be tested by the same standards that apply to a civilian. The State presented strong evidence that defendant Dorian Pressley distributed cocaine. According to the testimony at trial, defendant sold two vials of cocaine directly to an undercover detective. At the end of the face-to-face exchange, defendant gave the detective his phone number and told her to store the number under the first three letters of his name. A second officer observed the transaction. Immediately after the sale, the undercover officer transmitted a description of defendant to a supervisor. The second officer also radioed information about defendant’s movements. About four blocks from where the sale took place, a third officer stopped defendant, who matched the description. The officer realized he knew the suspect and let him go to protect the ongoing undercover operation. Back at headquarters, the third officer printed a photo of defendant. The undercover detective also returned to headquarters. Within one hour of the transaction, she viewed the single photo of defendant and said she was certain that the individual in the picture had sold her the two vials. Defendant was arrested and convicted after trial of third-degree possession of heroin, third-degree distribution of cocaine, and third-degree distribution of cocaine within 1000 feet of a school. On appeal, defendant argued that the trial court should have held a pretrial hearing to evaluate the reliability of the identification. After review, the New Jersey Supreme Court found that it could not determine whether part or all of the protections outlined in New Jersey v. Henderson, 208 N.J. 208 (2011) should apply to identifications made by law enforcement officers: “Even if the trial judge in this case had held a pretrial hearing, though, it is difficult to imagine that the identification would have been suppressed. Although showups are inherently suggestive, ‘the risk of misidentification is not heightened if a showup is conducted’ within two hours of an event. Here, the identification took place within an hour. In addition, the trial judge gave the jury a full instruction on identification evidence, consistent with Henderson and the model jury charge.” The Court affirmed the Appellate Division and upheld defendant’s convictions. View "New Jersey v. Pressley" on Justia Law

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Teacher Tanya James-Buhl was charged with failure to comply with the mandatory reporting law that requires specified professionals to report incidents of child abuse when they have reasonable cause to believe a child has suffered abuse or neglect. James-Buhl received notice of child abuse from her three daughters alleging that they were being touched inappropriately within the home by their stepfather, but she did not make an immediate report. At issue is whether James-Buhl's employment status as a teacher required her to report the alleged abuse of her own children, who were not her students, when the abuse occurred within the home and was perpetrated by another family member. The Washington Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals and held that a teacher's failure to comply with the mandatory reporting duty must have some connection to his or her professional identity. View "Washington v. James-Buhl" on Justia Law

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Evan Bacon, a juvenile, pleaded guilty to second degree robbery and received a suspended disposition. The State challenged the juvenile court's authority to enter such a disposition, arguing that the Juvenile Justice Act of 1977 (JJA), chapter 13.40 RCW, does not give trial courts the statutory authority to suspend juvenile dispositions (except in specific situations that are absent here). The Court of Appeals agreed, and so did the Washington Supreme Court. The Court therefore affirmed, holding that juvenile court judges lack statutory authority to suspend JJA dispositions, even manifest injustice JJA dispositions, unless the disposition fits under one of the specifically listed exemptions in RCW 13.40.160(10). View "Washington v. Bacon" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court convicting Defendant of one count of first-degree child molestation sexual assault and one count of the sale or distribution of photographs of a minor suggesting that the minor engaged in, or is about to engage in, a sexual act. On appeal, Defendant argued that the trial court violated his Sixth Amendment right to cross-examine the complaining witness regarding her allegations against her biological father. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the trial justice did not abuse his discretion in precluding the admission of this evidence. View "State v. Danis" on Justia Law

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In this appeal from a criminal conviction the Supreme Court affirmed in part and quashed in part the decision of the Second District Court of Appeal affirming Appellant’s convictions and sentences, holding that, based on the State’s concession, Appellant was entitled to resentencing pursuant to chapter 2014-220, Laws of Florida, and to resentencing pursuant to this Court’s decision in Williams v. State, 186 So. 3d 989 (Fla. 2016). A jury found Appellant guilty of first-degree premeditated murder and theft. The Second District affirmed. The Supreme Court held (1) the trial court properly denied Defendant’s motion for judgment of acquittal; and (2) where the State conceded that Appellant was entitled to resentencing, the case is remanded with instructions to remand to the trial court for resentencing. View "Williams v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed Appellant’s appeal from the circuit court’s order denying his petition for writ of habeas corpus, which mooted the pro se motions Appellant filed in connection with the appeal, holding that Appellant could not prevail on appeal because he failed to allege a basis for the circuit court to grant the writ and demonstrated no clear error in the dismissal of his petition. In his petition, Appellant challenged a circuit court judgment reflecting his convictions, alleging that the judgment was facially invalid. The Supreme Court concluded that the type of claims raised by Appellant were not cognizable in a habeas proceeding. View "Tilson v. Kelley" on Justia Law

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As Harvey and Eibeck walked through Peoria, four men confronted them. One reached for his waistband. Harvey and Eibeck, who was high, ran. Eibeck heard a gunshot and kept running. The shooter killed Harvey. Police found no weapon, shell casing, or eyewitness. Eibeck could generally describe, but not positively identify, the shooter. Six months later, Officer Curry conducted a photo line-up; Eibeck identified Jackson, resulting in Jackson’s warrantless arrest. He had consumed alcohol and drugs before his arrest. Curry and Officer McDaniel interrogated Jackson on video. Jackson, high and woozy, said he was not at the shooting. McDaniel, who is black, told Jackson if he remained silent he would be charged and would not receive a fair trial because he is black. The officers allegedly falsely claimed multiple witnesses identified Jackson; suggested Jackson shot in self-defense; and pressured him to make false inculpatory statements. About two hours into the interrogation, Jackson collapsed. The Illinois Appellate Court reversed his first-degree murder conviction, concluding the police lacked probable cause for arrest. The Seventh Circuit dismissed an appeal of the trial court’s refusal to dismiss, based on qualified immunity, claims the officers coerced a confession. The court held that it lacked jurisdiction because the district court’s decision not to watch the video does not fit within the exception to the general rule that only final orders are appealable. The court made no reviewable legal determination regarding McDaniel’s comments about race. View "Jackson v. Curry" on Justia Law

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At issue was the proper interpretation of Wis. Stat. 980.09(2), as amended by 2013 Wis. Act 84, which establishes the discharge procedure for a person civilly committed as a sexually violent person pursuant to Wis. Stat. ch. 980. David Hager, Jr. and Howard Carter both filed petitions for discharge from commitment as sexually violent persons. Both petitions were denied. The court of appeals reversed in Hager but affirmed in Carter. The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals as to Hager and affirmed as to Carter, holding (1) under Wis. Stat. 980.09(2), circuit courts are to carefully examine, but not weigh, those portions of the record they deem helpful to their consideration of a petition for discharge, which may include facts both favorable and unfavorable to the petitioner; (2) section 980.09(2) does not violate the constitutional right to due process of law as guaranteed by the United States and Wisconsin Constitutions; and (3) Carter’s counsel was not ineffective for failing to challenge retroactive application of Act 84 to Carter. View "State v. Hager" on Justia Law