FindLaw Opinion Summaries - Criminal

Daily criminal law and procedure case summaries, brought to you by FindLaw.com.

Sharp III v. County of Orange

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Partially affirming and partially reversing district court decisions that properly denied qualified immunity and state-law immunity claims raised by police against retaliation claims by a man, Sharp III, who was confused with his son, Sharp IV, at the time of an arrest and search, but reversing the denial of immunity claims as they related to Sharp's mother's retaliation claim and both parent's claims relating to his seizure, excessive force, and the search of his person and the home, which was warranted despite being largely unconstitutional.
Posted: September 19, 2017, 8:00 am

US v. Parker

(United States First Circuit) - Affirming the conviction of a felon for possession of ammunition and a firearm because the judge's failure to voir dire jurors individually about their feelings toward race, the admission of evidence of other gun and ammo purchases, and inclusion of instructions relating to willful blindness did not rise to reversible error.
Posted: September 19, 2017, 8:00 am

US v. Caltabiano

(United States Second Circuit) - Affirming the conviction and sentence of a man for mail fraud, conspiracy, and theft of government property by the district court because the defendant waived his challenge to the jury instructions by proposing instructions that were nearly identical and his sentence was not procedurally unreasonable because it was not in plain error.
Posted: September 18, 2017, 8:00 am

U1IT4Less, Inc. v. FedEx Corporation

(United States Second Circuit) - Affirming the district court's grant of summary judgment to the defendant FedEx because the plaintiff, who complained of inflated shipping and customs charges under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) because the plaintiff failed to adduce evidence that FedEx Corp/Services, the alleged Rico 'persons,' are distinct from FedEx Ground, the alleged RICO enterprise.
Posted: September 18, 2017, 8:00 am

Woodward v. City of Tucson

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Reversing the district court's denial of qualified immunity for Tucson police officers for charges of unconstitutional seizure and excessive force in the use of deadly force against a man who was shot when he attacked the officers while growling and wielding a broken hockey stick during the warrantless entry into a vacant apartment because the plaintiff lacked standing to assert Fourth Amendment violations for the warrantless entry and seizure of a vacant apartment and the officers would not have known that shooting him violated a clearly established right, rendering deadly force acceptable in such situations.
Posted: September 15, 2017, 8:00 am

In Re: C.M.

(California Court of Appeal) - Reversing the order of the juvenile court directing the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency to immediately remove a woman's child from her care if there was any evidence that the child was exposed to his stepfather or if the mother violated a restraining order arising from his domestic violence against them because the mother had not received notice she would be a restrained party, violating her procedural and substantive due process.
Posted: September 15, 2017, 8:00 am

US v. Monteiro

(United States First Circuit) - Affirming convictions for robbery and drug conspiracy in a case where the defendant's former accomplice was apprehended by DEA agents and flipped to become a government witness because the joinder of drug conspiracy and robbery charges did not violate Federal Rules of Civil Procedure due to the relationship between the criminal acts, evidence was properly admitted, and an erroneous ruling against the defendant was harmless given the overwhelming evidence against him.
Posted: September 15, 2017, 8:00 am

US v. Hernandez Martinez

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Remanding a case for resentencing on a charge of illegal reentry because an enhancement had been applied for defendants who had been convicted for a felony offense where the sentence imposed was two or more years prior to their first removal from the country because the defendant had initially been sentenced to a year in prison, a sentence that was later changed to three years when his probation was revoked upon return to the United States because the qualifying prior felony conviction did not result in the required sentence until after his initial removal.
Posted: September 15, 2017, 8:00 am

Lucien v. Spencer

(United States First Circuit) - Affirming the district court's denial of a writ of habeas corpus arising from convictions for first-degree murder, counts of armed robbery, and unlawful possession of a firearm because the admission of a witness's plea agreement was not prejudicial where the court made instruction regarding the inferences that could be drawn from the plea, flaws in jury instruction did not result in an unreasonable application of due process law, and counsel was not ineffective as a result of several decisions made in the course of the trial relating to strategy.
Posted: September 15, 2017, 8:00 am

US v. Naranjo Rosario

(United States First Circuit) - Affirming convictions for drug and gun offenses because the convictions were not the result of error, the admission of testimony by the handler of a narcotics-detecting dog was proper, and the district court did not err in calculating the sentence.
Posted: September 15, 2017, 8:00 am

US v. Poulson

(United States Third Circuit) - Affirming the district court's findings regarding the number of victims of a multi-million dollar real estate Ponzi scheme who suffered substantial financial hardship as defined by the US Sentencing Guidelines, but vacating and remanding because the court erred in imposing the five-year occupational restriction on his three-year term of supervised release because it exceeded the statutory maximum.
Posted: September 14, 2017, 8:00 am

Villagrana v. Sessions

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Denying the petition for review of the Board of Immigration Appeals decision adopting the Immigration Judge's reasoning that a person convicted under Arizona's misdemeanor domestic violence assault statute was removable becasue although the offense categorically did not fit the definition of a crime of violence it did fit the federal generic definition of a crime of domestic violence under the modified categorical approach.
Posted: September 14, 2017, 8:00 am

In Re: Jesse Barber

(California Court of Appeal) - Granting a writ of habeas corpus in the case of a man, held by the sheriff because he had failed to complete a work release program in 2010, whose probation expired in 2012, and was not arrested until 2017 because holding him when his probation expired and detaining him without a hearing violated due process.
Posted: September 14, 2017, 8:00 am

US v. Spatig

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Affirming the conviction of a man who kept thousands of containers of hazardous and combustible chemicals in his yard relating to his business involving paint and resurfacing cement floors because the court properly refused to admit evidence about his diminished capacity, the offense was not a specific intent crime, and the court's application of enhancement due to the expense to clean up his yard was reasonable.
Posted: September 13, 2017, 8:00 am

Hardy v. US

(United States First Circuit) - Granting certification of a successive motion to vacate the federal sentence because the Supreme Court declared that the Armed Career Criminal Act's residual clause definition of a violent felony was unconstitutionally vague.
Posted: September 13, 2017, 8:00 am

P. v. Sandee

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirming the denial of the motion to suppress evidence recovered from the warrant-less search of the cellphone while they were on probation and subject to general search conditions that allowed searches of her property and personal effects because a reasonable objective person would understand that a cellphone is included within this
Posted: September 13, 2017, 8:00 am

Cain v. Chappell

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Affirming the district court denial of a habeas corpus petition by a man sentenced to death for the murder of a couple that resided next door to his father because he received constitutionally adequate notice of the imposition of the attempted rape special circumstance when the second amended information alleged that the defendant engaged in the commission of rape, sufficiently apprising him of the possible application of the relevant enhancement.
Posted: September 13, 2017, 8:00 am

Atwood v. Ryan

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Affirming the denial of a petition for writ of habeas corpus in case of a man found guilty of kidnapping and first degree felony murder with a history of convictions for sexual incidents involving children because the imposition of a death sentence was reasonable, claims that FBI agents planted evidence lacked any support, and ineffective assistance of trial counsel claims that were not raised in state court lacked merit because the attorney's conduct was reasonable and the defendant hadn't wanted to pursue mental health claims at the time of the trial.
Posted: September 13, 2017, 8:00 am

Moore v. US

(United States First Circuit) - Granting certification of a successive motion to vacate the federal sentence because the Supreme Court declared that the Armed Career Criminal Act's residual clause definition of a violent felony was unconstitutionally vague.
Posted: September 13, 2017, 8:00 am

P. v. Leonard

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirming convictions for a variety of crimes involving violence, weapons, and recklessness because the court properly excluded impeachment evidence against a prosecution witness and there was no need to establish that a driver is personally assessed traffic violation points in order to commit the crime of reckless driving.
Posted: September 13, 2017, 8:00 am

US v. Doe

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Reversing the district court denial of a motion to seal records relating to a motion to reduce the sentence of a defendant who pleaded guilty to importing a controlled substance who provided detailed verifiable information about members of an international drug cartel whose assistance could result in the endangerment of his life and that of family members.
Posted: September 12, 2017, 8:00 am

US v. Jones

(United States Second Circuit) - Affirming a sentence entered in district court for assaulting a federal officer that included a career offender enhancement because the Supreme Court has held that the residual clause of the Career Offender Guideline is not unconstitutional and New York first degree robbery categorically qualifies as a crime of violence under the residual clause and the sentence was not substantively unreasonable.
Posted: September 11, 2017, 8:00 am

P. v. Lujano

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirming the conviction of a man for sodomy of an intoxicated person because the failure of the trial court to instruct the jury that an actual and reasonable belief that the victim was capable of consent is a defense was a harmless error since the factual question posed by the suggested instruction was necessarily resolved against the defendant under the other instructions.
Posted: September 11, 2017, 8:00 am

US v. McChesney

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Affirming the denial of a motion for a new trial where the defendant, accused of orchestrating a massive gun heist, claimed his ex-girlfriend had said nasty things about him to jurors at his trial but no such contact was reported by jurors or observed by court officials, so he was unable to carry his burden of presenting credible evidence of the alleged incidents.
Posted: September 11, 2017, 8:00 am

P. v. Hunter

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirming the conviction of two robbers for their murder of a third accomplice where the codefendent attorney claimed work-product privilege over the report of an interview with the jewelry store victim because the Penal Code does not provide for discovery among codefendants.
Posted: September 11, 2017, 8:00 am

US v. Pabon

(United States Second Circuit) - Affirming the judgment of conviction in the case of a man who was found to have been carrying heroin and cocaine in his belly because the use of a CT scan after an x-ray failed to locate the drugs did not occur after the elimination of probable cause and delays in seeking a probable cause determination by a state court judge did not amount to a Fourth Amendment unreasonable delay meriting the suppression of the evidence.
Posted: September 11, 2017, 8:00 am

US v. Barragan

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Affirming the convictions of three defendants but vacating and remanding for resentencing the fourth in a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) prosecution where part of a prosecutor's closing argument involved inviting the jury to 'send a message' with its conviction, but did not amount to prejudice but one of the convictions mistakenly applied a career offender enhancement where the defendant's prior was not for a crime of violence or controlled substance offense.
Posted: September 8, 2017, 8:00 am

US v. Burhoe

(United States First Circuit) - Sustaining the conviction of union members for violations of a law prohibiting persons with certain criminal convictions from serving in certain positions within a labor organization within thirteen years after their term of imprisonment ends, but vacating convictions for extortion of a nonunion company and remanding for a new jury trial because the jury instructions allowed the jury to convict simply upon finding that work contracted for with union members was unwanted rather than the result of extortion.
Posted: September 8, 2017, 8:00 am

P. v. Williams

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirming the conviction of two individuals for dog fighting and animal cruelty where they appealed the denial of a motion to suppress evidence and quash and traverse the warrant when an officer followed a loose horse back to its home and looked to see whether barking dogs were also loose and would spook the horse attempting to reenter the property and observed dog fighting training equipment and unhealthly conditions because any privacy violations were justified by exigent circumstances.
Posted: September 8, 2017, 8:00 am

Wilkerson v. Superintendent Fayette SCI

(United States Third Circuit) - Reversing the grant of a petition on a habeas claim because the defendant did not meet the bar for relief because they failed to demonstrate that the rejection of a double jeopardy claim was contrary to established federal law and affirming the dismissal of Apprendi and ineffective assistance claims because they were not timely raised in the case of an assault and shooting that took place outside of a strip club.
Posted: September 8, 2017, 8:00 am

Smith v. Williams

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Reversing the district court's judgment dismissing as untimely the federal habeas corpus petition of a convict because a judgment only refers to the state judgment on which a petitioner is being held in a procedurally complicated case in which the determination of the statute of limitations depended on whether an initial conviction or its reinstatement was the point at which the clock started.
Posted: September 8, 2017, 8:00 am

Johnston v. Mitchell

(United States First Circuit) - Affirming a first degree murder conviction where the defendant claimed ineffective assistance of counsel when his attorney failed to move to suppress statements he made during psychiatric evaluations in jail and at a hospital after he was arrested and had requested a lawyer and for failing to prevent the jury from hearing about the various times he asked to speak to his attorney while in custody because psychiatric evidence can be produced where the defendant has introduced their mental state as a defense and his requests for counsel were not seen as generating any adverse influence on the jury's decision.
Posted: September 8, 2017, 8:00 am

P. v. Wallace III

(California Court of Appeal) - Reversing the conviction of a man for possession of a baton or similar weapon because the search of the car that recovered the baton was unconstitutional and there was insufficient evidence to establish that the discovery of the baton was inevitable.
Posted: September 7, 2017, 8:00 am

US v. D.M.

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Vacating a district court order denying a motion for sentence reduction because the appeal of the sentence was not rendered moot by the convict's release from federal prison and the US Sentencing Guidelines permit sentence reduction when the defendant has offered substantial assistance.
Posted: September 7, 2017, 8:00 am

US v. Faagai

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Affirming a district court order denying a motion to suppress evidence, namely drugs recovered after the search of a vehicle that the defendant insisted they lacked probable cause to inspect, but the court found sufficient evidence recovered from valid wiretap surveillance and the interaction at the time of the stop to support the search.
Posted: September 7, 2017, 8:00 am

In Re: Thomas F. Hoffner

(United States Third Circuit) - Authorizing a successive habeas corpus petition in the case of a convict seeking review of his sentence as a career criminal under the residual clause of the Armed Career Criminal Act, which the Supreme Court found to be unconstitutionally vague under Johnson v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 2551 (2015) because he was able to make a prima facie showing of having met the pre-filing requirements for successive habeas corpus petitions.
Posted: September 7, 2017, 8:00 am

Mateo v. US Attorney General

(United States Third Circuit) - Granting a petition for review, vacating an order of removal, and remanding for further proceedings in the appeal of a Dominican national whose plea to conspiracy in charges relating to the robbery of a motor vehicle had been considered a crime of violence, but the recent Supreme Court and third circuit decisions striking residual clauses from such statutes because they were void for vagueness.
Posted: September 6, 2017, 8:00 am

P. v. Harris

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirming the decision denying a person convicted of felony grand theft for the theft of a wallet that was initially a felony, but subsequently reduced to a misdemeanor by Proposition 47 who sought to have her DNA sample expunged from the state's database because the proposition does not mention DNA and the plain meaning of the law does not include the right to have the DNA expunged.
Posted: September 6, 2017, 8:00 am

US v. Hodge

(United States Third Circuit) - Remanding to vacate some convictions but otherwise affirming the case of a man accused of multiple firearms offenses because the charges in his case offered multiple punishments for the same offense, implicating the Fifth Amendment's Double Jeopardy Clause, but the other defects complained of did not result in reversible error.
Posted: September 6, 2017, 8:00 am

US v. Torres

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Affirming the conviction and sentence of multiple defendants for racketeering, drug trafficking conspiracy, and related offenses, because jury instructions for determining drug quantities did not result in reversible error, nor did the denial of a request for instruction on multiple conspiracies where there was no evidence of such a situation, nor did the district court err in finding that the defendants had prior convictions for the purposes of determining the mandatory minimum sentence.
Posted: September 6, 2017, 8:00 am

P. v. Washington

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirming a murder conviction because defense counsel's failure to seek a separate proceeding from codefendants was not ineffective assistance of counsel where the codefendant's admitted jailhouse confessions were non-testimonial and did not violate the Aranda/Bruton doctrine.
Posted: September 5, 2017, 8:00 am

Bennett v. USA

(United States First Circuit) - In a case where a convict challenging their sentence enhancement died before an opinion was issued granting the appeal of the grant of their habeas corpus petition was affirmed by the court the counsel for the deceased opposed the government's motion for the withdrawal of the opinion and the court exercised its discretion to grant the government motion for the opinion's withdrawal because the case had become moot.
Posted: September 5, 2017, 8:00 am

US v. Corbett

(United States First Circuit) - Affirming the conviction for conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute oxycodone and oxymorphone because the evidence obtained in a sting operation was sufficient, defense counsel had waived an issue relating to a jury question when they said they had no problem with a proposed response, and a minor's prior involvement in crime did not impact the imposition of a sentence enhancement for crime involving the use of a minor.
Posted: September 5, 2017, 8:00 am

Ybarra, Jr. v. Filson

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Vacating a district court order denying a Nevada prisoner's motion to reopen his habeas corpus proceedings challenging his death sentence and remanding for reconsideration, but affirming a district court order denying a motion relating to the invalidation of Florida's capital sentencing scheme and denying leave to file a second or successive habeas petition based upon the Florida precedent in that incident because the district court erred in its AEDPA analysis of the convict's alleged intellectual disability that he claims renders him categorically exempt from the death penalty.
Posted: September 1, 2017, 8:00 am

P. v. Daniels

(Supreme Court of California) - Vacating a judgment of death because the defendant's waiver of his right to a jury trial on penalty was invalid, but affirming the judgment in all other respects.
Posted: August 31, 2017, 8:00 am

US v. O'Brien

(United States First Circuit) - Affirming the imposition of enhancements for obstruction of justice and a vulnerable victim enhancement as well as the substantive reasonableness of a sentence in the case of a professional investment advisor who defrauded the elderly ladies who were her clients because the district court's decision was well-reasoned.
Posted: August 31, 2017, 8:00 am

P. v. Iraheta

(California Court of Appeal) - Reversing the conviction of a man for shooting an occupied motor vehicle because, pursuant to People v. Sanchez (2016) 63 Cal.4th 665 (Sanchez), the admission of gang expert testimony and evidence relating to 'field identification' cards was a prejudicial error.
Posted: August 31, 2017, 8:00 am

Golb v. The Attorney General of the State of New York

(United States Second Circuit) - Affirming some of the convictions and reversing others in a case involving more than 17 counts of criminal impersonation, forgery, and other criminal charges arising from a man's impersonation of Dead Sea Scroll scholars in order to bolster his father's theory about the scrolls' origin and discredit critics because literal interpretations of the impersonation statute were applied instead of narrowed interpretations established by the Court of Appeal and the criminal forgery statute was overbroad, but the impersonation statute was not unconstitutional.
Posted: August 31, 2017, 8:00 am

US v. Dupree

(United States Second Circuit) - Affirming the district court's judgment convicting three brothers of committing and conspiring to commit the drug related murder of a Staten Island man and for conspiring to distribute cocaine base because the failure of the superseding indictment to allege the drug conspiracy involving at least 280 grams of cocaine base was not a plain error, the admission of challenged evidence was not an abuse of discretion, and there was sufficient record evidence to support the conviction.
Posted: August 30, 2017, 8:00 am

P. v. Seals

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirming a conviction except for a modification of the calculation of pre-sentence custody credits in the case of a man who stole a cellphone and later argued that sales tax shouldn't be considered in calculating the value of stolen goods and that his sentence was cruel and unusual punishment
Posted: August 30, 2017, 8:00 am