FindLaw Opinion Summaries - Criminal

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

Garner v. Lee

(United States Second Circuit) - Vacated the granting of federal habeas relief. Held that, given the strong evidence of the state prisoner's guilt, he had not shown that his defense was constitutionally prejudiced by his trial counsel's alleged ineffective assistance.
Posted: November 15, 2018, 8:00 am

People v. Caldwell

(California Court of Appeal) - Held that a state prisoner could appeal an order denying his factual innocence habeas motion, rejecting the People's contention that the order was not appealable here.
Posted: November 15, 2018, 8:00 am

US v. Hudson

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Affirmed a conviction of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, but ordered the written judgment amended to clarify the conditions of the defendant's supervised release relating to use of alcohol and ability to travel outside the jurisdiction.
Posted: November 14, 2018, 8:00 am

Thomas v. Anderson

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Reinstated an Illinois prisoner's civil rights claim that he was beaten by prison guards and undeservedly disciplined in retaliation for lawsuits and grievances he had filed. Reversed a judgment as a matter of law entered at trial, and remanded for further proceedings on his retaliation claim.
Posted: November 14, 2018, 8:00 am

People v. Gabriel-Acosta

(California Court of Appeal) - Held that no prior prison term enhancements should have been imposed based on felony convictions that were reduced to misdemeanors under Proposition 47. Vacated a defendant's sentence and remanded for resentencing, on reconsideration following transfer of the case from the California Supreme Court.
Posted: November 13, 2018, 8:00 am

Williams v. Filson

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Held that a Nevada death row inmate was entitled to an evidentiary hearing on one of his penalty-phase ineffective assistance of counsel claims, among other things. Reversed in part the denial of federal habeas relief.
Posted: November 9, 2018, 8:00 am

In re Twelve Grand Jury Subpoenas

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Affirmed an order holding a records custodian in contempt for his failure to comply with grand jury subpoenas. Held that the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination provides no protection to a collective entity's records custodians.
Posted: November 8, 2018, 8:00 am

US v. Graves

(United States Fifth Circuit) - Held that a $5,000 special assessment could be imposed on a defendant who pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography, despite his assertion that his indigence made him exempt.
Posted: November 8, 2018, 8:00 am

US v. Jett

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Affirmed the convictions of three men for Hobbs Act conspiracy but vacated their convictions of attempted bank robbery. Remanded for resentencing.
Posted: November 7, 2018, 8:00 am

US v. Brixen

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Affirmed the denial of a motion to suppress cellphone evidence showing that a man had communicated online inappropriately with a 14-year-old female. During the arrest, the detective illustrated that the man was the correct suspect by sending a message to his phone from an undercover Snapchat account and witnessing the notification appear on the phone screen.
Posted: November 7, 2018, 8:00 am

US v. Bolin

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Affirmed a $5,000 additional special assessment on a defendant who pleaded guilty to possessing sexually explicit material involving minors.
Posted: November 7, 2018, 8:00 am

US v. Young

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Affirmed the prison sentence of a defendant who pleaded guilty to wire fraud for defrauding the Veterans Administration regarding the extent of his service‐related injuries.
Posted: November 6, 2018, 8:00 am

MacDonald v. Hedgpeth

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Held that a California state prisoner was entitled to federal habeas relief because insufficient evidence at his robbery trial supported a 10-year gang sentencing enhancement for a crime he committed alone. Reversed the denial of habeas relief.
Posted: November 5, 2018, 8:00 am

US v. Reed

(United States Fifth Circuit) - Affirmed the convictions of a former district attorney and his son on multiple counts including wire fraud and money laundering, some of the charges stemming from misappropriation of district attorney campaign funds.
Posted: November 5, 2018, 8:00 am

US v. Stewart

(United States Second Circuit) - Vacated an investment banker's conviction on insider-trading charges, holding that certain impeachment evidence should not have been excluded. Remanded for further proceedings.
Posted: November 5, 2018, 8:00 am

People v. Baldivia

(California Court of Appeal) - Held that a defendant who pleaded no contest to committing armed robberies when he was 17 years old was entitled to a remand for a juvenile fitness hearing, pursuant to subsequently adopted Proposition 57. Conditionally reversed his conviction and prison sentence.
Posted: November 5, 2018, 8:00 am

People v. Vera

(California Court of Appeal) - Held that drug evidence was lawfully discovered through a dog sniff during a traffic stop, after the vehicle was pulled over for a tinted-window infraction. The stop was not unconstitutionally prolonged. Affirmed the denial of a suppression motion.
Posted: November 5, 2018, 8:00 am

US v. Pennington

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Affirmed the sentence of a woman who pleaded guilty to distributing illegal drugs.
Posted: November 5, 2018, 8:00 am

US v. Correa

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Affirmed the denial of a motion to suppress evidence of drug trafficking found inside a condominium, in a case where drug enforcement agents located the condo by driving around the city pushing buttons on a garage door opener they had seized in a traffic stop to see what building's garage opened.
Posted: November 5, 2018, 8:00 am

US v. Zemlyansky

(United States Second Circuit) - Affirmed a conviction related to insurance and investment fraud schemes. Held that there was no violation of the Fifth Amendment's Double Jeopardy Clause.
Posted: November 5, 2018, 8:00 am

US v. Downey

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Affirmed the supervised release conditions imposed as part of a sentence for attempted bank robbery, rejecting the defendant's argument that the drug-testing requirement was unreasonable, among other things.
Posted: November 2, 2018, 8:00 am

US v. Carter

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Held that it was unconstitutional to permit a trial witness to testify by two-way video under the facts here. One of the alleged victims of a sex trafficking scheme testified from Minnesota by video, as she was seven months pregnant and unable to travel. Agreeing with the defendant, the Ninth Circuit held that this procedure violated his Sixth Amendment right to confront witnesses, because alternatives were available for obtaining her in-person testimony. The panel vacated his conviction on the relevant counts.
Posted: November 2, 2018, 8:00 am

People v. Franske

(California Court of Appeal) - Held that it was proper under Proposition 47 to reduce a defendant's 2010 conviction for felony burglary to misdemeanor shoplifting and accordingly lower her punishment. Affirmed the trial court, on reconsideration following transfer of the case from the California Supreme Court.
Posted: November 1, 2018, 8:00 am

People v. Garcia

(California Court of Appeal) - Held that it was not error to exclude a proposed expert's testimony concerning the reliability of eyewitness identifications, in this residential burglary case. However, remanded for resentencing based on a law effective January 1, 2019, that gives courts discretion to dismiss or strike a prior serious felony conviction for sentencing purposes.
Posted: November 1, 2018, 8:00 am

US v. Lewis

(United States Fifth Circuit) - Held that a conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery could not serve as the predicate for a conviction of using a firearm during a crime of violence, because the conspiracy was not a crime of violence; following US v. Davis, 903 F.3d 483 (5th Cir. 2018), petition for cert. filed. Vacated the defendant's sentence and remanded for resentencing.
Posted: November 1, 2018, 8:00 am

People v. Kelly

(California Court of Appeal) - Held that a defendant's sentence on drug trafficking and other charges must be modified to strike all but one of the prior prison term enhancements, on the ground that they were based on convictions that had been reclassified from felonies to misdemeanors pursuant to Proposition 47 before sentencing. Remanded for resentencing.
Posted: November 1, 2018, 8:00 am

Caretto v. Superior Court (The People)

(California Court of Appeal) - Held that a defendant was entitled to further proceedings regarding whether his felony conviction for receiving stolen property should be reduced to a misdemeanor under Proposition 47, in this case involving whether the fair market value of two stolen debit cards was above a certain threshold amount. Granted his petition for writ of mandate, on reconsideration following transfer of the case from the California Supreme Court.
Posted: November 1, 2018, 8:00 am

US v. Gonzalez

(United States Fifth Circuit) - Affirmed a conviction and sentence on drug-trafficking charges.
Posted: October 31, 2018, 8:00 am

Raby v. Davis

(United States Fifth Circuit) - Denied a death row inmate's request for a certificate of appealability to challenge the district court's denial of his Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(6) motion to reopen a judgment. The judgment had held that his federal habeas claims of ineffective assistance of counsel were procedurally foreclosed.
Posted: October 31, 2018, 8:00 am

US v. Taylor

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Affirmed the life sentences of two men for robbing a store and killing the owner, rejecting their contention that their sentences were substantively unreasonable in light of mitigating factors, in particular their troubled upbringings. Held that an appellate court presumes that a sentence is reasonable where a district judge thoroughly examines and rejects the defendant's mitigation arguments in issuing a within‐guidelines sentence.
Posted: October 31, 2018, 8:00 am

US v. Perez-Ceballos

(United States Fifth Circuit) - Reversed a conviction for bank fraud, concluding there was insufficient evidence to sustain the conviction.
Posted: October 30, 2018, 8:00 am

Rubio v. Davis

(United States Fifth Circuit) - Held that the district court had jurisdiction to hear a petition for habeas corpus. The "in custody" requirement was satisfied even though the state prisoner was currently imprisoned under a different judgment than the sexually violent predator civil commitment order he was attempting to challenge. Reversed and remanded.
Posted: October 30, 2018, 8:00 am

People v Grzymski

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirmed the trial court's decision that the defendant was not entitled to relief under Senate Bill No. 180, which limited sentencing enhancements for minor drug related crimes. The defendant was not entitled to relief because his sentence was unappealed 60 days after it was imposed.
Posted: October 30, 2018, 8:00 am

US v. Austin

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Affirmed the acceptance of a defendant's guilty plea to charges of bank fraud, aggravated identity theft, and obstruction of justice, rejecting his contention that his plea was not knowing and voluntary. However, vacated his sentence and remanded for resentencing.
Posted: October 29, 2018, 8:00 am

People v. Henry

(California Court of Appeal) - Held that a man should not have been prosecuted under a general felony statute for giving a friend's name to a police officer at a traffic stop and signing a citation with that name, because a more specific misdemeanor statute prohibited the signing of a false name on a promise to appear for a traffic citation. Reversed and remanded for resentencing.
Posted: October 29, 2018, 8:00 am

US v. McDaniels

(United States Fifth Circuit) - Affirmed the denial of a prisoner's motion for federal habeas corpus relief. Held that jurisdiction was lacking over some of his claims because his Rule 59 motion constituted a successive habeas application.
Posted: October 26, 2018, 8:00 am

People v. Saelee

(California Court of Appeal) - Held that the trial court erred in rejecting the defendant's petition to recall his felony marijuana conviction and resentence him to a misdemeanor. Reversed and remanded, in a case that raised the issue of whether he presented an unreasonable risk of danger to the public.
Posted: October 26, 2018, 8:00 am

People v. Lopez

(California Court of Appeal) - Reversed an alcohol-impaired motorist's conviction on a hit-and-run charge, concluding that defense counsel's statements during trial argument were tantamount to an unauthorized guilty plea. However, affirmed the motorist's conviction of second-degree murder.
Posted: October 26, 2018, 8:00 am

US v. Porter

(United States Fifth Circuit) - Affirmed the conviction of a man who was paid to commit a murder, rejecting his challenges to the trial court's orders finding him competent to stand trial and denying his request for expert funding.
Posted: October 26, 2018, 8:00 am

US v. Sawyer

(United States Second Circuit) - Affirmed a 25-year sentence for sexual exploitation of children and receipt of child pornography. In an earlier ruling in the case the Second Circuit had held that a 30-year sentence was shockingly high and remanded for resentencing.
Posted: October 26, 2018, 8:00 am

People v. Acosta

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirmed a sentence imposed for committing sex crimes upon a child. Rejected the defendant's argument that his trial counsel was constitutionally ineffective for failing to request a hearing on his ability to pay the sexual offender fines.
Posted: October 25, 2018, 8:00 am

US v. Walton

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Affirmed a conviction and sentence for mail fraud. The defendant, an official in a religious organization, was charged with filing and assisting others in filing fraudulent tax returns.
Posted: October 25, 2018, 8:00 am

US v. Moreno-Ornelas

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Affirmed a defendant's conviction on assault and weapons charges arising out of an altercation with a U.S. Forest Service officer, but reversed the attempted robbery conviction because of errors in the jury instructions.
Posted: October 25, 2018, 8:00 am

US v. Bowens

(United States Fifth Circuit) - Affirmed a conviction of Hobbs Act robbery and related charges, rejecting the defendant's argument that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction of using a firearm in furtherance of the crime.
Posted: October 24, 2018, 8:00 am

US v. Bowens

(United States Fifth Circuit) - Affirmed a conviction of Hobbs Act robbery and related charges, rejecting the defendant's argument that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction of using a firearm in furtherance of the crime.
Posted: October 24, 2018, 8:00 am

US v. Lopez

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Affirmed a conviction and life sentence for several drug-related offenses. Also expressly reminded district courts and the government to ensure compliance with the requirements of 21 U.S.C. section 851, related to sentencing enhancements.
Posted: October 24, 2018, 8:00 am

US v. Bowens

(United States Fifth Circuit) - Affirmed a conviction of Hobbs Act robbery and related charges, rejecting the defendant's argument that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction of using a firearm in furtherance of the crime.
Posted: October 24, 2018, 8:00 am

Dominguez v. Kernan

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Held that the district court should not have dismissed the defendant's habeas corpus petition asserting that his prosecution for murder violated the federal constitution's Double Jeopardy Clause. Also held that his habeas petition was not moot and that on remand the district court should convert his 28 U.S.C. section 2254 petition into a section 2241 petition.
Posted: October 23, 2018, 8:00 am

US v. Kienast

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Affirmed the convictions of three defendants on child pornography charges, rejecting their challenge to the search warrant authorizing the government to identify the users of a child pornography website called Playpen. Held that even if these digital searches violated the Fourth Amendment, the good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule applied.
Posted: October 23, 2018, 8:00 am

US v. Henderson

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Affirmed a defendant's conviction for receipt of child pornography. Held that it was not necessary to suppress evidence obtained from a pornography website called Playpen pursuant to a warrant that authorized a search of computers located outside the issuing magistrate judge's district.
Posted: October 23, 2018, 8:00 am