Justia Criminal Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals
by
Plaintiff filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging excessive use of force from the shooting and death of Israel Leija, Jr. by a DPS trooper. The district court denied the trooper's motion for summary judgment based on qualified immunity because multiple genuine disputes of material fact existed as to the qualified immunity analysis. The court concluded that whether Leija was posing a substantial and immediate risk of danger to other officers or bystanders, sufficient to justify the use of deadly force at the time of the shooting, is a disputed fact. Because on this record, the immediacy of the risk posed by Leija cannot be resolved as a matter of law at the summary judgment stage, the court affirmed the district court's judgment. View "Luna, et al. v. Texas Dept. of Public Safety" on Justia Law

by
B, age 16, ran away from foster care, and met Pringler. Weeks after their meeting, Pringler rented a motel room for B. The next morning, Pringler took her to stay at another motel with his girlfriend, Norman. Pringler and B began a sexual relationship. Norman was prostituting herself, posting ads on a website. Norman introduced B to prostitution and began posting ads with B’s picture. One encounter was captured in a recording on Pringler’s computer. An undercover agent responded to an ad and arranged to have sex with Norman and B. When he arrived, he observed Pringler in the parking lot conducting surveillance. The officer entered the room and negotiated to have sex with both females; they were arrested. B was taken to a juvenile facility but released to a case worker because she was under the influence of marijuana. B again ran away. An agent again responded to an ad. When the takedown team arrived at the hotel, they saw Pringler’s vehicle in the parking lot and Pringler exiting the hotel. The officer entered the room, negotiated sex for money, arrested the women, and seized Pringler’s computer and a receipt indicating that Pringler had paid for the room. Pringler was arrested after a traffic stop, in possession a bill for the hotel room. He was convicted of aiding and abetting the sex trafficking of a minor, 18 U.S.C. 1591(a); 18 U.S.C. 2. The district court sentenced Pringler to 405 months’ imprisonment and 10 years of supervised release. The Fifth Circuit affirmed, rejecting challenges to the sufficiency of the evidence; the effectiveness of trial counsel and calculation of his sentence. View "United States v. Pringler" on Justia Law

by
Defendant-Appellant Marvin Washington refused to abide by the rules of his group home and was served an eviction notice. A warrant for his arrest was issued because continued residence in that group home was a condition of Washington's continued release under 18 U.S.C. 4243. The district court heard testimony from Washington's probation officer and revoked Washington's conditional release after finding: (1) Washington's eviction constituted a violation of his treatment regimen; and (2) his continued release posed a substantial risk to society. Because the doctors who crafted Washington's release plan included residence in a group home as an express element, and because the district court's substantial-risk finding was not clearly erroneous, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed that court's judgment. View "USA v. Washington" on Justia Law

by
Defendant Johnnie Traxler pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud in violation for making unauthorized purchases on her employer's credit cards. Traxler appealed the district court's denial of her motion to dismiss the indictment for lack of jurisdiction on grounds that the evidence was insufficient to prove she used the mails. Because the government provided sufficient evidence that Traxler used the mails in executing her ongoing fraudulent scheme, the Fifth Circuit affirmed. View "USA v. Traxler" on Justia Law

by
The government appealed the district court's grant of Defendant Gonzalez and Meraz-Garcia's motions to suppress drugs obtained pursuant to an automobile search by police at a traffic stop. The court concluded that the government has not waived the issue of whether defendants have the requisite standing to support a Fourth Amendment claim where the district court appropriately exercised its discretion and decided the issue even though it was not presented to the magistrate judge. The court also concluded that the district court properly granted defendants' motion to suppress where, although defendants did not object to the search nor claim ownership of the luggage searched, that is not decisive under these facts. It is undisputed that defendants did not hear the driver (a co-defendant) of the vehicle give consent to the search nor were they ever informed of the driver's consent by the officers. Under these circumstances, the onus was on the officers to act reasonably. All of the facts indicated a likelihood that the luggage did not belong to the driver, and therefore, it was not reasonable to rely on the driver's consent alone in searching the bag. The search was unconstitutional and the court affirmed the district court's grant of the motions to suppress. View "United States v. Iraheta, et al." on Justia Law

by
Defendant appealed the district court's revocation of his supervised release, arguing that his supervised release expired prior to the date the United States Probation Office petitioned the district court for revocation - thereby divesting the district court of jurisdiction over his supervised release. The court concluded that defendant's term of pretrial detention did not toll his supervised release where neither period of detention was in connection with a conviction and the immigration detainer imposed during defendant's Texas pretrial detention was an administrative hold that did not amount to imprisonment in connection with a conviction for purposes of 18 U.S.C. 3624(e). Therefore, the court held that the district court did not have jurisdiction to revoke defendant's supervised release. The court vacated the revocation and the sentence imposed. View "United States v. Juarez-Velasquez" on Justia Law

by
Defendants Rosbottom and Kisla appealed their convictions for various charges related to their concealment of assets in connection with property of Rosbottom's that was not disclosed in his bankruptcy proceedings. The court concluded that defendants waived their juror challenge by failing to comply with the requirements of the Jury Selection Act, 28 U.S.C. 1867(d); any error in the district court's limitation of further questioning into the Chapter 11 trustee's alleged bias was harmless; the evidence was sufficient to convict defendant of the charges; there was no plain error in the district court's restitution award and the court rejected Rosbottom's arguments claiming otherwise; and Rosbottom's sentence was not procedurally unreasonable. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "United States v. Rosbottom, Jr." on Justia Law

by
Petitioner, born in Mexico, appealed the BIA's decision affirming the denial of his application for cancellation of removal for victims of domestic violence. The IJ found petitioner ineligible for relief due to a prior narcotics conviction. The court concluded that the government was not required to charge petitioner's narcotics conviction in the notice to appear for that conviction to serve as a ground of inadmissibility for Special Rule Cancellation; the BIA did not err in concluding that the IJ lacked authority to waive petitioner's narcotics-related grounds of inadmissibility; and petitioner's marijuana conviction makes him inadmissible under INA 212(a)(2)(A)(i)(II), which is a disqualifying ground for Special Rule Cancellation of Removal for victims of domestic violence. Accordingly, the court dismissed the petition for review. View "Rodriguez-Benitez v. Holder, Jr." on Justia Law

by
Defendants Bernard and Vialva were convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death after planning a robbery and carjacking and killing two victims. Defendants subsequently sought certificates of appealability (COAs) under 28 U.S.C. 2253(c)(2). The court rejected defendants' numerous claims of ineffective assistance of counsel, Brady violations, cumulative error, and violations of the Fifth and Eighth Amendment. Accordingly, the court denied defendants' motions for COAs. View "United States v. Bernard" on Justia Law

by
Defendant challenged his sentence after pleading guilty to illegal reentry after deportation. The court concluded that the district court's order to run the illegal reentry sentence consecutively with a pending federal sentence was clear and obvious error. However, the court affirmed the sentence because defendant failed to demonstrate that the error seriously affected the fairness, integrity, or public reputation of judicial proceedings. View "United States v. Nava" on Justia Law