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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the judgment of the district court granting Defendant's motion to strike for lack of probable cause count 3, domestic assault with intent to cause fear in another of immediate bodily harm, which was charged as a felony under Minn. Stat. 609.2242, subd. 4, holding that the unambiguous language of the statute supported the felony charges. In moving to strike count 3, Defendant argued that using his previous convictions to enhance count 3 to a felony was inconsistent with Minn. Stat. 609.035, which prohibits multiple punishments for the same course of conduct. The district court granted the motion. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that section 609.035 did not prohibit enhancement under subdivision 4. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the domestic abuse charges against Defendant qualified for the enhancement provided by subdivision 4. View "State v. Defatte" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of a petition for habeas relief. The district court granted petitioner a certificate of appealability (COA) on whether he is intellectually disabled and thus ineligible for the death penalty under Atkins v. Virginia, and the court granted petitioner's request to expand the COA to include a Batson challenge. The court held that the Supreme Court's recent holding in Moore v. Texas did not apply retroactively to petitioner's intellectual disability claim, and that the state court's denial of his intellectual disability claim was not an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law. In this case, the state court considered petitioner's ability to conceal his crime, ability to take care of his mother, and his scores on certain mathematics and reading tests as adaptive strengths that outweighed his apparent deficits. The court held that this approach was acceptable at the time. The court also held that the state court's denial of petitioner's claims that the prosecutor at his state trial struck jurors on the basis of gender and national origin in violation of the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments was not contrary to Batson v. Kentucky and its progeny, an unreasonable application of Batson, or an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented to the state courts. View "Smith v. Commissioner, Alabama Department of Corrections" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals dismissing Appellant's complaint for a writ of mandamus and/or procedendo to compel Franklin County Court of Common Pleas Judge William H. Woods to issue a corrected sentencing entry, holding that Appellant had an adequate remedy in the ordinary course of the law by way of appeal. In 2006, the common pleas court issued an entry resentencing Defendant for his 2005 convictions for murder and felonious assault. In 2017, Defendant filed in the court of appeals a complaint for a writ of mandamus and/or procedendo arguing that he was entitled to a new sentencing entry that complied with Ohio Rev. Code 2505.02 and Crim.R. 32(C). The court of appeals dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellant's action was barred because he had an adequate remedy at law. View "State ex rel. White v. Woods" on Justia Law

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In this case involving the issue of how to allocate responsibility for retaining and preserving exhibits after criminal trials the Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the exhibit-transfer orders in two of three criminal cases and affirmed in part and remanded in part the order in the third case, holding that that superior court clerks' offices are responsible for maintaining exhibits post trial unless a clerk's office shows that there is good cause to believe retention would be impracticable. The three postconviction orders at issue in this case, issued by three different superior court judges, required that exhibits in the clerk's office be transferred to local police departments. The district attorney for the northern district petitioned a single justice of the Court seeking to vacate the orders and to require that all exhibits that had been transferred to police departments be returned to the clerk's office. The Supreme Judicial Court held that the clerk's office memorandum in this case was insufficient to satisfy the good cause standard with respect to a baby carriage, but the record supported the judge's decisions with respect to a BB gun, firearms, and ammunition. View "District Attorney for the Northern District v. Superior Court Department" on Justia Law

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Border Patrol agents may conduct a canine sniff to search for drugs or concealed aliens at immigration checkpoints so long as the sniff does not lengthen the stop beyond the time necessary to verify the immigration status of a vehicle's passengers. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of a motion to suppress evidence found during an immigration-checkpoint stop. Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the government, the court held that the canine sniff here did not prolong the immigration stop. In this case, defendant did not dispute that the stop lasted approximately 30 seconds where border patrol agents asked defendant about his citizenship, cargo, and travel, all of which were permissible. The court also noted that defendant gave valid consent to the search. View "United States v. Tello" on Justia Law

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Wandahsega was convicted of abusive sexual contact, 18 U.S.C. 2244(a)(5), after Wandahsega’s then-six-year-old son, H.D.W., told his grandmother and others that Wandahsega had touched him inappropriately. Wandahsega and H.D.W. are Native Americans and lived on the Hannahville Reservation. After his mother’s death, H.D.W. split his time between his maternal grandparents and Wandahsega’s apartment. Wandahsega denied touching his son but said that he sometimes blacks out from drinking and did not know what, if anything, he might have done to H.D.W. The Michigan State Police Forensic Laboratory found saliva on the inside rear portion of a pair of H.D.W.’s underwear, and testing established that the saliva contained a mixture of both H.D.W.’s and Wandahsega’s DNA. The Sixth Circuit affirmed Wandahsega’s conviction and 288-month sentence, rejecting an argument that the district court erred in allowing H.D.W. to testify by closed-circuit television and upholding the district court’s evidentiary rulings concerning the testimony of medical professionals and others about what H.D.W. told them. The court upheld the district court’s decision to deny Wandahsega the opportunity to present to the jury a video of a supervised visit between H.D.W. and Wandahsega. The evidence was sufficient to support the conviction and the sentence is procedurally and substantively reasonable. View "United States v. Wandahsega" on Justia Law

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Grandberry was charged with unlawful possession of a dirk or dagger while confined in state prison with prior strike offenses: a 1996 conviction for first-degree murder and a 1988 conviction for second-degree robbery. During a random search, Officers Acosta and Miller went to Grandberry’s cell, escorted Grandberry to an empty dayroom and conducted an unclothed body search. Acosta noticed Grandberry’s boxer shorts were actually two pairs sewn together, with a manufactured weapon nested between them. Acosta did not announce he had found a weapon but placed the weapon and underwear in his pocket and allowed Grandberry to get dressed. Miller testified he understood from Acosta’s actions that contraband had been found. The officers placed Grandberry in a holding cell until he could be processed into administrative segregation. At a classification hearing, Grandberry reportedly stated: “I know I messed up.” The correctional caseworker included the quote in the report but the “chrono,” which is provided to inmates for appeals, did not include it. A jury found Grandberry guilty; the court sentenced him to nine years, to run consecutively to his 84-years-to-life sentence. The court of appeal affirmed, rejecting Grandberry’s claim that the court erred in instructing the jury (CALCRIM 361) that it could draw an unfavorable inference from his failure to explain or deny incriminating evidence. Grandberry argued that he did explain or deny all of the evidence against him and the instruction violated his due process rights by unreasonably favoring the prosecution. View "People v. Grandberry" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court issued a permanent writ of mandamus ordering the circuit court to reinstate Gary Sampson's previous probationary term, holding that the circuit court erred in placing Sampson on a third term of probation. In his writ of mandamus seeking his immediate discharge from probation Sampson argued that the circuit court lost authority by placing him on a third term of probation and therefore erred by overruling his motion to be discharged from probation and setting the matter for a probation violation hearing. The Supreme Court agreed that the circuit court erred by placing Sampson on a third term of probation but, because it was unclear whether the circuit court had authority to conduct a probation violation hearing or whether Sampson's probation expired statutorily, the circuit court was required to enter an order continuing Sampson's valid second term of probation. View "State ex rel. Sampson v. Honorable William E. Hickle" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court exercised its discretion not to dismiss this appeal as moot and held that the circuit court erred in placing Trevor Griffith, who had already been discharged from parole, on a third term of probation. Griffith filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus seeking an immediate release from custody and to be discharged from probation. Specifically, Griffith argued that the circuit court exceeded its authority after revoking and terminating his second term of probation and executing his sentence. After this case was submitted, Griffith was released from his incarceration and discharged from parole. The Supreme Court held (1) the circuit court erred in placing Griffith on a third term of probation; (2) when a circuit court places a defendant on an erroneous third term of probation, the case should be remanded to determine the proper course of the defendant's sentence; and (3) because Griffith had been released and discharged, he should not be returned to custody to make this determination. View "State ex rel. Griffith v. Precythe" on Justia Law

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Wendy and Daryl Yurek were charged with tax evasion and bankruptcy fraud. After a joint jury trial, the Yureks were convicted on both offenses. The district court then sentenced Mrs. Yurek to a prison term of 27 months, leading her to appeal the conviction and sentence. On appeal, Mrs. Yurek challenged the sufficiency of the evidence presented against her, and claimed the district court erred in denying her motions for severance and a new trial. The Tenth Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part: affirming Mrs. Yurek’s conviction, but vacated her sentence. The Court determined the district court applied the wrong test when deciding whether to grant a mitigating-role adjustment. View "United States v. Yurek (Wendy)" on Justia Law