FindLaw Opinion Summaries - Criminal

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

US v. Black

(United States Second Circuit) - Held that three defendants were deprived of their Sixth Amendment rights to a speedy trial because they had waited more than five years for a trial. Affirmed the dismissal of certain criminal charges against them relating to a murder.
Posted: March 18, 2019, 8:00 am

People v. Chatman

(California Court of Appeal) - Reduced a defendant's convictions for identity theft to misdemeanors, citing Proposition 47. Held that the crime must be treated as a misdemeanor if the value of the personal identifying information at issue does not exceed $950.
Posted: March 18, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Korte

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Affirmed a parolee's convictions for bank robbery. He contended that the government should not have been allowed to rely on his parole condition to perform warrantless searches, such as placing a GPS (Global Positioning System) tracker on his car.
Posted: March 15, 2019, 8:00 am

Kanter v. Barr

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Held that a felon may constitutionally be barred from possessing a firearm even if the crime was nonviolent. A man who pleaded guilty to mail fraud contended that the Second Amendment did not allow him to be permanently banned from owning a gun, given that his crime did not involve violence. Disagreeing with him in a 2-1 decision, the Seventh Circuit rejected his challenge to federal and Wisconsin felon dispossession statutes.
Posted: March 15, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Read

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Held that a criminal defendant had the Sixth Amendment right to demand that counsel not present an insanity defense. The defendant had strongly objected to being defended in that manner, and now contended that he was entitled to a new trial because his wishes were not respected. Agreeing with him, the Ninth Circuit reversed and remanded for a new trial, describing the issue as one of first impression.
Posted: March 14, 2019, 8:00 am

Valdez v. Montgomery

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Held that a California inmate's federal habeas petition was untimely. Affirmed its dismissal, concluding that no grounds existed here for statutory tolling.
Posted: March 14, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Haines

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Affirmed a man's convictions for sex trafficking of a minor and other offenses.
Posted: March 14, 2019, 8:00 am

Regains v. City of Chicago

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Held that a registered sex offender who was homeless timely filed a civil rights lawsuit. The suit alleged that he was unlawfully arrested for failing to report a proper address. Reversed a dismissal and remanded.
Posted: March 13, 2019, 8:00 am

People v. Alvarez

(California Court of Appeal) - Held that a criminal defendant who was confined in a state mental hospital after pleading insanity may not issue subpoenas duces tecum against the hospital and hospital police when there was no underlying active proceeding, motion or petition. Affirmed the quashing of the subpoenas.
Posted: March 12, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Door

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Vacated a sentence and remanded for resentencing. Held that the defendant's prior Washington conviction for second-degree assault did not qualify as a crime of violence, for purposes of determining his base offense level here on convictions of firearm and other charges.
Posted: March 12, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Prien-Pinto

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Held that the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines may constitutionally impose a strict-liability enhancement for committing a crime with a stolen firearm. The defendant contended that he was unaware the gun was stolen. Joining 10 other circuits and reaffirming its own 1993 decision, the Ninth Circuit held that the lack of a mens rea requirement did not violate due process.
Posted: March 12, 2019, 8:00 am

Shaw v. Villanueva

(United States Fifth Circuit) - Held that a sheriff and chief deputy were entitled to qualified immunity from claims that they conspired to violate a man's civil rights by arresting him without a legitimate basis. Reversed the denial of qualified immunity.
Posted: March 11, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Walker

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Held that the trial court was entitled to recommend that the defendant be denied credit for time served while awaiting trial, in this case where he and his associates had bribed witnesses. The bribery also led to a conviction for conspiring to obstruct justice.
Posted: March 11, 2019, 8:00 am

Morrow v. Meachum

(United States Fifth Circuit) - Held that a district attorney investigator was entitled to qualified immunity for engaging in a maneuver that caused a motorcyclist to crash during a high-speed chase, resulting in the motorcyclist's death. Affirmed summary judgment in favor of the investigator in this civil rights lawsuit.
Posted: March 8, 2019, 8:00 am

People v. Anthony

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirmed four men's convictions for gang-related murders. Although the trial judge erred in admitting one defendant's statement to police and some of a gang expert's testimony, those errors were harmless here.
Posted: March 8, 2019, 8:00 am

People v. Barton

(California Court of Appeal) - Disagreed with a recent decision from another California Court of Appeal concerning waivers of appeal rights. Held that where a criminal defendant negotiates a plea for a stipulated sentence and waives the right to appeal the sentence, the defendant may not take advantage of a favorable sentencing law enacted thereafter (which may otherwise apply retroactively under ordinary circumstances). Dismissed the appeal here.
Posted: March 8, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Robinson

(United States Fifth Circuit) - Dismissed a federal death row inmate's motion for relief from judgment. Held that the motion amounted to an unauthorized second petition for habeas relief.
Posted: March 8, 2019, 8:00 am

Landau v. Superior Court (the People)

(California Court of Appeal) - Held that California law explicitly authorized a district attorney to subpoena and use a sexually violent predator's medical records in proceedings under the Sexually Violent Predator Act. The individual sought to be discharged from the custody of a state hospital where he had been committed.
Posted: March 7, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Salgado

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Affirmed a sentence imposed on a man who pleaded guilty to heroin drug-trafficking charges.
Posted: March 6, 2019, 8:00 am

People v. Camacho

(California Court of Appeal) - Vacated a conviction of possession of marijuana for sale. Held that prejudicial errors were made that damaged the defendant's ability to understand the adverse immigration consequences of his nolo contendere plea.
Posted: March 6, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Briggins

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Affirmed the sentence of a man convicted of bank robbery.
Posted: March 6, 2019, 8:00 am

People v. Kelly

(California Court of Appeal) - Dismissed an appeal from a burglary sentence. The defendant had failed to obtain a certificate of probable cause, as was necessary here because the plea agreement specified a particular sentence.
Posted: March 6, 2019, 8:00 am

People v. Joseph

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirmed a defendant's conviction of second-degree robbery. However, reversed his perjury conviction.
Posted: March 5, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Kroll

(United States Second Circuit) - Vacated a mandatory life sentence imposed on a man who pleaded guilty to sexual exploitation of a child. Held that the district court should have applied the categorical approach in deciding whether his earlier New York state conviction constituted a prior sex conviction. Remanded for resentencing.
Posted: March 5, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Galloway

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Dismissed an appeal from a sentence for possessing ammunition as a felon. Held that the defendant's plea agreement waived his appellate rights.
Posted: March 4, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Gilton

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Held that the trial court should not have granted the defendant's motion to suppress cellphone location evidence. Although the warrant was not supported by probable cause, the deficiencies were not so stark as to render the police officers' reliance on the warrant entirely unreasonable. Reversed the granting of the suppression motion.
Posted: March 4, 2019, 8:00 am

People v. Johnson

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirmed an order summarily denying an inmate's request for resentencing. He sought relief under Senate Bill No. 620, which gives trial courts some discretion to strike a firearm enhancement, but this law did not apply retroactively to his criminal case.
Posted: March 4, 2019, 8:00 am

Spreitz v. Ryan

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Held that the Arizona courts did not properly weigh a defendant's mitigating evidence before sentencing him to death. He contended that he should not have been required to establish a causal connection between his history of substance abuse and the murder. Agreeing with him, the Ninth Circuit reversed the denial of federal habeas relief, in relevant part.
Posted: March 4, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Ayelotan

(United States Fifth Circuit) - Affirmed the convictions of three individuals for operating an international romance scam, in which they used online dating methods to dupe unsuspecting victims into sending money to them. The charges included conspiracy to commit wire fraud, bank fraud and identify theft.
Posted: March 4, 2019, 8:00 am

People v. Smith

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirmed the convictions of two individuals arising out of the shooting death of an innocent bystander during a confrontation between two groups of teenagers. Remanded for resentencing in light of recent amendments to the Penal Code.
Posted: March 1, 2019, 8:00 am

People v. Perry

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirmed a California inmate's conviction of possession of marijuana in prison. Held that passage of Proposition 64, which made it legal for adults to possess small amounts of marijuana, did not alter the prison-related statute under which he was convicted.
Posted: March 1, 2019, 8:00 am

Rodney v. Filson

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Held that the district court failed to properly analyze a Nevada state prisoner's habeas petition. Vacated and remanded for further consideration of his ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claims.
Posted: March 1, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Street

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Affirmed a conviction for Hobbs Act robbery, rejecting the defendant's contention that police officers engaged in unlawful racial profiling when they initially stopped and questioned him about the crime.
Posted: March 1, 2019, 8:00 am

People v. Orozco

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirmed the admission of a defendant's murder confession, ruling on several issues bearing on its admissibility. He confessed to a person he was unaware was functioning as an agent of law enforcement, after having requested a lawyer.
Posted: February 28, 2019, 8:00 am

Jones v. Zatecky

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Held that an Indiana inmate was entitled to a writ of habeas corpus based on his attorney's failure to object to an untimely amendment to his charges. Reversed the denial of habeas relief.
Posted: February 28, 2019, 8:00 am

People v. Dimacali

(California Court of Appeal) - Held that a misdemeanor charge of leaving the scene of an accident (hit-and-run) was not subject to disposition by civil compromise.
Posted: February 28, 2019, 8:00 am

People v. Matthews

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirmed a murder conviction, holding that a mistake pertaining to a superfluous element of a jury instruction did not constitute instructional error.
Posted: February 28, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Araiza-Jacobo

(United States Fifth Circuit) - Affirmed a drug-trafficking conviction in a case where the defendant denied having knowledge that two bags of hard candies he was carrying were impregnated with methamphetamine. The central issue at his trial was whether he knew what he was really carrying.
Posted: February 28, 2019, 8:00 am

People v. Alvarez

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirmed a man's conviction of second-degree murder for causing a fatal motor vehicle accident by running a red light while under the influence of alcohol and illicit drugs.
Posted: February 28, 2019, 8:00 am

People v. Amezcua

(Supreme Court of California) - Affirmed the death sentences of two men convicted of multiple first-degree murders and other gang-related crimes, on an automatic appeal.
Posted: February 28, 2019, 8:00 am

People v. Brown

(California Court of Appeal) - Held that a defendant's felony conviction for receiving stolen property worth more than $950 must be reduced to a misdemeanor. The People should not have aggregated the values of certain stolen items to reach the dollar threshold for the felony offense. Remanded for resentencing.
Posted: February 27, 2019, 8:00 am

People v. Chamizo

(California Court of Appeal) - Dismissed the sentencing appeal of a man who pleaded no contest to transporting cocaine. Held that a recent statutory amendment related to sentencing enhancements was not retroactive.
Posted: February 27, 2019, 8:00 am

Garza v. Idaho

(United States Supreme Court) - Held that a defendant who had, in the course of pleading guilty, signed what is often called an appeal waiver was entitled to the presumption of prejudice recognized in Roe v. Flores-Ortega, 528 U.S. 470 (2000). Flores-Ortega addressed what happens when an attorney's deficient performance costs a defendant an appeal that the defendant would have otherwise pursued. Justice Sotomayor delivered the U.S. Supreme Court's opinion in a 6-3 decision.
Posted: February 27, 2019, 8:00 am

Madison v. Alabama

(United States Supreme Court) - Held that the Eighth Amendment may permit executing a prisoner even if he cannot remember committing his crime, but it may forbid execution if his dementia prevents him from comprehending why he is being put to death. A death row inmate in Alabama argued that his memory loss and dementia entitled him to a stay of execution. In a 5-3 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court clarified the law on these matters and remanded to the state court for further proceedings, in an opinion delivered by Justice Kagan. Justice Kavanaugh took no part in the decision.
Posted: February 27, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Gomez

(United States Fifth Circuit) - Affirmed the sentence of a man who pleaded guilty to illegally reentering the U.S. after deportation.
Posted: February 25, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Moore

(United States Second Circuit) - Affirmed the sentence imposed on a man who pleaded guilty to bank robbery, rejecting his challenge to a career offender sentencing enhancement.
Posted: February 25, 2019, 8:00 am

Fernandez v. Capra

(United States Second Circuit) - Held that a New York inmate convicted of murder‐for‐hire was entitled to federal habeas relief, in this case where he claimed that the prosecutors knowingly offered perjured testimony at his trial. Reversed the denial of his habeas petition.
Posted: February 22, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Cabello

(United States Fifth Circuit) - Affirmed the imposition of a visitation condition as part of a defendant's supervised release. There was no plain error in imposing this condition, which required him to permit a probation officer to visit him at any time at home or elsewhere. He argued that the trial judge at least must explain the reasons why it was necessary here.
Posted: February 22, 2019, 8:00 am

Chunn v. Amtrak

(United States Second Circuit) - Held that Amtrak police did not mishandle cash seized from a man during an arrest. The arrestee contended that he should have been given an opportunity to contest Amtrak's transfer of the $10,000 to the Drug Enforcement Agency. Unpersuaded by his arguments, the Second Circuit affirmed summary judgment against his due process and conversion claims.
Posted: February 21, 2019, 8:00 am

Ceara v. Deacon

(United States Second Circuit) - Held that a state inmate could proceed with his claims that a prison corrections officer assaulted him. The civil rights lawsuit was timely because an amendment to correctly identify the officer's name related back to the original complaint. Reversed a summary judgment ruling and remanded.
Posted: February 21, 2019, 8:00 am