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Defendant appealed his conviction for illegal reentry. Because the district court's factual findings provided an inadequate basis for appellate review, the Fifth Circuit remanded for the district court to make additional findings as to whether defendant was "in custody" within the meaning of Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966). The court declined to reach the other issues raised on appeal at this time. View "United States v. Arellano-Banuelos" on Justia Law

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The trial court imposed a $950 sanction on Deputy Public Defender Raju, counsel for Landers in a two-defendant joint criminal trial, for violating a reciprocal discovery order. The court found that Raju failed to disclose to the prosecution the name and statements taken from Fletcher, a witness called by Landers’s co-defendant, Lemalie. Raju argued the sanction order was improper because he never intended to call Fletcher at trial, and in fact did not call her; he contends he relied on a state-of-the evidence defense for Landers, putting on no affirmative defense case and eliciting what he needed through cross-examination of various witnesses, one of whom was Fletcher. The court of appeal reversed. Raju did not violate the reciprocal discovery order. Raju had no general obligation to disclose exculpatory information he expected to come from witnesses called by Lemalie. A “sham cross-examination” theory relied on by the trial court is unsupported by substantial evidence, and as applied here, violates due process. View "People v. Landers" on Justia Law

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Defendant Justin Parker appealed his conviction and sentence for theft of a motor vehicle, felony theft, and two counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. All of the charges against Parker stemmed from one night where Parker and another man entered a lot that housed various vehicles, pointed a gun at the guard and locked him in a portable toilet, and then loaded a container with several vehicles, which they then stole. On appeal, Parker argued his sentences for both theft of a motor vehicle and felony theft violated double jeopardy because the vehicles at issue in each count were stolen on the same occasion and were part of one course of action by Parker. The Delaware Supreme Court was presented with two issues for resolution by this appeal: (1) as a general matter, whether theft of a motor vehicle and felony theft the “same offense” for double jeopardy purposes; and (2) even if they were, can the two charges be separated in this particular case because they were associated with different stolen items, even though the items were stolen at the same time and place? The Court held theft of a motor vehicle was indeed the same offense as felony theft for double jeopardy purposes and that the two charges could not be separated in this case. The Court therefore vacated Parker’s sentence and remanded for resentencing. View "Parker v. Delaware" on Justia Law

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The Fourth Circuit vacated defendant's sentence for two counts of receipt of child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography. The court held the district court failed to address defendant's non-frivolous mitigation arguments and to properly explain its rationale for his term of confinement and his special conditions. The court remanded for the district court to provide a sufficient explanation for the significant deprivation of liberty defendant faced as a result of his criminal conduct. Finally, the court made no assessment regarding the fairness or propriety of defendant's term of confinement or special conditions of supervised release. View "United States v. Ross" on Justia Law

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Defendant Rydell Mills appealed his convictions and sentence for various offenses, including cocaine and heroin drug dealing and two counts of resisting arrest with force or violence. These convictions arose from a single incident in which two police officers caught Mills in a dark alley with a digital scale in his hands, Mills resisted the two officers’ arrest, and the police ultimately found a substantial amount of cocaine and smaller amount of heroin nearby. Mills argued on appeal: (1) when a defendant resists the attempt of multiple officers to arrest him, the multiplicity doctrine prohibits the State from dividing the resisting arrest offense into separate counts for each officer, as what occurred in this case; (2) convictions for resisting arrest with force or violence and heroin drug dealing could not stand because the State used the resisting arrest offense as an aggravating factor to elevate the drug dealing offense to a higher felony grade; and (3) the trial court erred by omitting from its jury instruction for heroin drug dealing the required element that he intended to deliver the heroin. The Delaware supreme Court held that convicting a defendant of separate counts of resisting arrest with force or violence based solely on the number of arresting officers violated the multiplicity doctrine drawn from the Double Jeopardy Clauses of the United States and Delaware Constitutions; the Delaware General Assembly intended one count per arrest, not one count per officer. It was therefore multiplicitous to convict Mills twice when the charges arose solely from two officers’ joint attempt to arrest him at the same time and place. Furthermore, the Court held a defendant could be sentenced for both resisting arrest with force or violence and aggravated drug dealing, even when the resisting arrest offense is a necessary aggravating factor for the drug dealing conviction. As to the last issue, the Court held the omission in the jury instruction was plain error, “[a]lthough it is regrettable that defense counsel missed the mistake below, this omission of a critical element of the drug dealing offense is glaring and fundamental enough to require reversal even under a plain error standard of review, especially given that the omission was prejudicial under the circumstances of this case.” The Court therefore affirmed in part and reversed in part defendant’s convictions, vacated his sentence, and remanded to the Superior Court for further proceedings. View "Mills v. Delaware" on Justia Law

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Defendant was convicted of two counts of forcible lewd acts on a child and two counts of nonforcible lewd acts on a child. In the published portion of the opinion, the Court of Appeal remanded the convictions for nonforcible lewd acts on a child and remanded for the trial court to hold a hearing to exercise its discretion to impose or strike the prior serious felony enhancements, to determine whether defendant was entitled to presentence conduct credits and, if so, to calculate and award those credits. View "People v. Busane" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit filed an order withdrawing the prior opinion and filed a new opinion affirming the district court's denial of habeas relief to petitioner's guilt-phase claims regarding his first degree murder convictions. The panel held that, although trial counsel was constitutionally deficient by failing to present a diminished capacity defense based on mental illness, petitioner did not suffer any prejudice. In this case, the evidence of petitioner's specific intent to rape and kill both victims was overwhelming when compared to the relatively weak diminished capacity evidence that counsel could have presented, but failed to present. The panel also held that trial counsel was not ineffective for failing to subpoena a specific witness nor was petitioner prejudiced. View "Hernandez v. Chappell" on Justia Law

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A defendant waives his rights to challenge his sentence and precludes plain error review only when there is evidence that he knew of his rights at the time and nonetheless relinquished them. The en banc court affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence, reaffirming the distinction between waiver and forfeiture of sentencing challenges. The en banc court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion when it dismissed a juror who complained of health problems during deliberations. Although the en banc court held that defendant's failure to object to the Guidelines calculations at sentencing constituted forfeiture subject to plain error review, there was no plain error. In this case, regardless of whether the district court's loss calculation method was legally erroneous, defendant failed to meet his burden of showing that the alleged error affected his substantial rights. View "United States v. Depue" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of petitioner's second motion to vacate his mandatory minimum fifteen-year sentence under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA). The court held that the new rule in Johnson v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 2551 (2015), had no nexus to this claim. Furthermore, neither Mathis v. United States, 136 S. Ct. 2243 (2016), and Descamps v. United States, 570 U.S. 254 (2013), announced a new rule of law, made retroactive to cases on collateral review by the Supreme Court. Finally, in denying petitioner's first 28 U.S.C. 2255 motion, the district court held that his three class C felony burglary convictions fell within the ACCA's enumerated offenses clause and thus he could not raise these claims again. View "Winarske v. United States" on Justia Law

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While driving down a highway, a Colorado State Patrol (CSP) trooper observed another driver flash her turn signal twice over a distance of less than 200 feet and then change lanes. Apparently believing he’d just witnessed an illegal lane change, the trooper stopped the car in which defendant Devon Burnett rode as passenger. A subsequent search of the car revealed a handgun, drug paraphernalia, and suspected methamphetamine. As a result, Burnett was charged with multiple offenses, including possession with intent to manufacture or distribute a controlled substance and possession of a weapon by a previous offender. Burnett filed a motion to suppress the evidence found during the search that flowed from the stop for the allegedly illegal lane change. He argued that the applicable statute governing turning movements and required signals, didn't signaling at a minimum distance before changing lanes; therefore, the trooper did not have reasonable suspicion to stop the car. The trial court agreed and suppressed the fruits of the search. The State appealed, but the Colorado Supreme Court upheld the suppression order, finding the trooper's construction of the applicable statue was objectively unreasonable: the plain language of the statute clearly distinguished between turns and lane changes, and the statute did not require a driver to signal continuously for any set distance before changing lanes on a highway - it only required a driver use a signal before changing lanes. View "Colorado v. Burnett" on Justia Law