Justia Criminal Law Opinion Summaries

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's motion to suppress and motion for a Franks hearing after he was convicted of one count of possession with intent to distribute cocaine base and cocaine. In regard to the motion to suppress, the court concluded that, even if the warrant affidavit lacked probable cause, the good faith exception applies in this case because the issuing judge could have logically inferred that defendant stored contraband at his residence. Therefore, the officer's reliance on the search warrant was objectively reasonable. In regard to the motion for a Franks hearing, the court also concluded that defendant has not made a substantial preliminary showing that the statements at issue were false and defendant waived his GPS-related argument. View "United States v. Mayweather" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted Petitioner's petition for writ of habeas corpus and ordered that Petitioner is and shall remain discharged from custody, holding that the subject temporary restraining order's lack of specificity regarding the conduct to be restrained rendered it and the judgment of contempt and order of confinement void.Petitioner was jailed and her solely-owned business, a cosmetology salon, was fined for violating a temporary restraining order requiring them to cease and desist for operating the salon for in-person services in violation of regulations related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The trial court issued a judgment holding Petitioner and her business in contempt. Petitioner filed this habeas corpus petition arguing that she was illegally restrained because the temporary restraining order was unconstitutional and void. The Supreme Court agreed, holding (1) the temporary order was void; and (2) therefore, the contempt judgment based on that order was void as well. View "In re Luther" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the district court denying Appellant's application to modify his sex offender registry requirements, holding that the district court erred in penalizing Defendant for his years of successful adjustment to sex offender registration.In 2000, Defendant pled guilty to two counts of sexual abuse in the third degree, making him subject to lifetime as a sex offender. Defendant was released in 2009 and, since then, had been on the registry without any violation of the registration requirements. In 2019, Defendant filed an application for modification of his sex offender registry requirements pursuant to Iowa Code 692A.128. The district court denied the application. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court abused its discretion by not putting Defendant's STATIC-99R score into proper context and improperly relied on the absence of a stipulation with the Iowa Department of Correctional Services approving of a modification of the registration requirement. View "Becher v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court dismissing the trial information in this case, holding that the State's delay in arresting and formally charging Defendant did not amount to a due process violation.By late 2017, law enforcement had focused on Defendant as the suspected perpetrator of a robbery. However, the police did not file a criminal complaint against Defendant until August 2018 and did not serve an arrest warrant until September 2019. In October 2019, after it was finally filed, the district court dismissed the trial information, concluding that Defendant's due process rights under the Fifth Amendment were violated. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the State's delay in arresting and charging Defendant did not violate the speedy indictment rule or violate due process where Defendant failed to show actual prejudice. View "State v. Smith" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the order of the district court denying Defendant's application under Iowa Code 692A.128 to modify the requirement that he register as a sex offender, holding that because the district court did not have the benefit of the guidance provided in this opinion, the case must be remanded.Defendant was convicted of three counts of lascivious acts with a child. As a result of his convictions, Defendant was a tier III sex offender and subject to lifetime registration as a sex offender. Defendant filed an application for modification of his sex offender registration requirements, but the district court denied the application, concluding that Defendant did not present a compelling reason for release from the registry. The Supreme Court vacated the decision and remanded for further proceedings, holding that the district court improperly considered a number of factors in the modification proceeding. View "Fortune v. State" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence for possessing a firearm while being a felon, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(1). The court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in excluding out-of-court statements as hearsay when they were not offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted. In this case, the danger of unfair prejudice carried by a third party's confession was enormous and the confession would almost certainly precipitate a trial within a trial on the adequacy of the Task Force investigation.The court also concluded that, although defendant's indictment was insufficient under Rehaif v. United States, 139 S. Ct. 2191 (2019), the insufficiency did not affect his substantial rights; the district court did not abuse its discretion in admitting an unredacted copy of defendant's prior firearm conviction; and the Florida offense of armed robbery is a violent felony under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA). View "United States v. Elysee" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the intermediate court of appeals (ICA) holding that Defendant was not deprived of due process when the circuit court refused to hold a hearing during trial as to whether Defendant was incompetent pursuant to Haw. Rev. Stat. 704-404, holding that the circuit court abused its discretion.Defendant was charged with one count of sexual assault in the first degree. During trial, Defendant's counsel informed the circuit court of his belief that Defendant was not fit to proceed. The circuit court denied the motion, and Defendant was found guilty. Defendant filed a motion for a new trial, arguing that he was incompetent during his trial. The motion was denied. The ICA remanded the case to have the circuit court determine whether Defendant was competent at the time of his trial. The Supreme Court vacated the ICA's judgment, holding that there was ample evidence subsequent to trial supporting Defendant's motion for a new trial. View "State v. Fleming " on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed Defendant's conviction and sentence for manufacturing a controlled substance, holding that the circuit court erred in denying Defendant's motion to suppress evidence that Defendant argued was the fruit of an illegal entry and search of his home.Law enforcement went to Defendant's home to serve a domestic violence emergency protective order (EPO) that prohibited Defendant from possessing firearms and provided for the surrender of firearms to the officer serving the EPO. The officers concluded that the EPO served as a search warrant permitting them to enter and search Defendant's home for weapons. When the officers stepped into the residence, they smelled marijuana and performed a protective sweep, including a pat down of Defendant. Defendant filed a motion to suppress the evidence, which the circuit court denied. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) an EPO is not a de facto search warrant, and no exception to the warrant requirement applied to otherwise validate the entry into and search of Defendant's home; and (2) therefore, the circuit court erred in denying Defendant's motion to suppress. View "State v. Snyder" on Justia Law

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In 2015, D’Alandis Love, Perez Love, Kelsey Jennings, and Ken-Norris Stigler were driving in a red Pontiac headed to the Moroccan Lounge when a gold Tahoe approached as they were driving and opened fire. D’Alandis Love was killed. Perez Love, Jennings, and Stigler were seriously injured. Armand Jones, Sedrick Buchanan, Michael Holland, Jacarius Keys, and James Earl McClung, Jr., were developed as suspects in the shooting. Keys, accompanied by his attorney, went to the Sheriff’s Department and gave a videotaped statement to investigators implicating Jones, Holland, Buchanan, and McClung in the shooting. Keys, Jones, Holland, Buchanan, and McClung were later indicted and charged with one count of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted first-degree murder. Approximately five months after the men were indicted, Keys was shot and killed. Holland and Buchanan were considered suspects in Keys’s death. It is undisputed that at the time of Keys’s death, Jones was incarcerated. Before trial, Jones, Holland, Buchanan, and McClung moved to exclude Keys’s videotaped statement based on hearsay and the Sixth Amendment Confrontation Clause. The trial court denied the motion and allowed the statement to be admitted into evidence under Mississippi Rules of Evidence 804(b)(3) (the statement-against-interest hearsay exception), 804(b)(5) (the catch-all hearsay exception), and 804(b)(6) (the forfeiture-by-wrongdoing hearsay exception). The issue this case presented for the Mississippi Supreme Court's review centered on whether that videotaped statement could be introduced against a defendant under Rule 804(b)(6). The Court found that because the record showed Jones forfeited by wrongdoing his constitutional right to confront the witness, his convictions of murder and attempted murder were affirmed. But because there was insufficient evidence presented to support Buchanan’s convictions of aggravated assault, the Court reversed and rendered a judgment of acquittal as to Buchanan. View "Buchanan v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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Jeremy Harris was convicted of attempted burglary of a dwelling with the intent to commit larceny and was sentenced to a term of ten years, with five years suspended. Harris argued on appeal that the trial court erred by granting a mistrial in his first trial. As the record from the first trial was not made part of the record on appeal, the Mississippi Supreme Court ordered that the record be supplemented. The parties were directed to file supplemental briefing if they so chose, and each filed a supplemental brief. Then after review of the entire record, the Supreme Court reversed the conviction and sentence, finding that the mistrial in Harris’s first trial was not manifestly necessary. In the absence of manifest necessity, the constitutional protection against double jeopardy prohibited a second trial for the same crime. View "Harris v. Mississippi" on Justia Law