FindLaw Opinion Summaries - Criminal

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

US v. Posada

(United States Seventh Circuit) - District court’s loss calculation affirmed, where district court’s finding of $4,087,736 on 18 counts of health care fraud was not clearly erroneous.
Posted: July 18, 2019, 8:00 am

Satele v. Superior Court

(California Court of Appeal) - Order vacated and remanded. The trial court denied Plaintiff access to ballistics evidence when counsel requested it in preparation of a habeas corpus petition. The court believed that Penal Code section 1054.9 prohibited such a release of evidence. The Supreme Court disagreed, stating that section 1054.9 referred to physical evidence held by the prosecutor, not evidence held by the court.
Posted: July 18, 2019, 8:00 am

People. v. Williams

(California Court of Appeal) - Dismissed. At issue is whether defendants who make a plea deal must obtain a certificate of probable cause for resentencing under Senate Bill 1393. The courts are split and the California Supreme Court has taken up the issue, but there has been no decision as of yet. This appeals court determined that a certificate of probable cause is necessary and because Defendant did not obtain one, the appeal is dismissed.
Posted: July 17, 2019, 8:00 am

Bottinelli v. Salazar

(United States Ninth Circuit) - District court’s denial of joint petition for writ of habeas corpus affirmed. First Step Act amendment providing an additional seven days of “good time” credit per year did not take effect until AG established “risk and needs assessment” system per paragraph 102(b)(2) amending 18 U.S.C. § 3624(b)(1).
Posted: July 16, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Butt

(United States Fifth Circuit) - Affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded. A man convicted of mail fraud had electronics and cash seized by the government following his conviction. His sister claimed to have bought some of the goods and a third party claimed to be a secured creditor. The dismissal of the creditor's petition without a hearing was wrongful, but the dismissal of the sister's claim was affirmed.
Posted: July 15, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Elam

(United States Fifth Circuit) - Vacated and remanded. The district court's refusal to recharacterize a pro se litigant's motion for special discovery concerning the adequacy of trial counsel's representation as a Section 2255 motion was in error.
Posted: July 15, 2019, 8:00 am

People v. Sexton

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirmed in part, reversed in part. Defendant convicted of several crimes against his ex-wife and sentence enhancements were applied. Appeals court affirmed the judgment, but reversed certain sentence enhancements.
Posted: July 15, 2019, 8:00 am

In re Rogers

(Supreme Court of California) - Writ of habeas corpus is granted. Death sentence vacated on grounds that false testimony was given at trial.
Posted: July 15, 2019, 8:00 am

People v. Marsh

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirmed. The trial court did not err in instructing jury on meaning of ‘deadly weapon’ and Defendant’s constitutional rights were not violated by his attorney conceding guilt of vandalism in closing argument.
Posted: July 15, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Smith

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Affirmed. District Court provided adequate reason for sentence of two years’ imprisonment for violating conditions of supervised release after pleading guilty to receipt of child pornography, where Defendant failed to attend treatment, comply with monitoring, pay fees, and demonstrated dishonest behavior.
Posted: July 11, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Perez

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Affirmed. A prior conviction for battery is a “crime of violence” for sentencing purposes, where Defendant was convicted of being in possession of a firearm and ammunition under 18 U.S.C. §922(g)(1).
Posted: July 11, 2019, 8:00 am

Conroy v. Thompson

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Affirmed. Petition for writ of habeas corpus untimely, where petitioner did not meet one-year deadline to file and could not meet high bar to establish equitable tolling based on diagnoses of depression and schizoaffective disorder.
Posted: July 11, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Phillips

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Affirmed. The forgiveness of an unenforceable loan constitutes an economic value under 18 C.F.R. §1958, where Defendant agreed to plan a murder in exchange for loan forgiveness.
Posted: July 11, 2019, 8:00 am

People v. Bay

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirm judgment in part. Defendant was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm, possessing burglary tools, and giving false information to a police officer. On appeal, Defendant alleged insufficient evidence to support convictions and alleged the trial court erred by not striking prior prison term enhancements. Appeals court affirmed two of the convictions, but reversed conviction for burglary tools and agreed that sentence enhancement should have been stricken.
Posted: July 10, 2019, 8:00 am

USA v. Daniels

(United States Fifth Circuit) - Affirmed. Defendant was convicted of distributing crack cocaine. On appeal, Defendant alleged motion to suppress evidence wrongly denied; his right of confrontation was violated; and there was insufficient evidence to convict. Appeals court found no error, but even if there was it was harmless error and affirmed the conviction.
Posted: July 10, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Sawyer

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Affirmed. In an appeal of a denied motion to suppress evidence, defendant had no legal expectation of privacy to an unattended backpack while trespassing.
Posted: July 9, 2019, 8:00 am

United States v. Williams

(United States Second Circuit) - Affirmed. Defendant was convicted of being a felon in possession of firearm. Court found that Defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights were not violated when the police searched his vehicle after overhearing a telephone conversation that aroused the police officer’s suspicions.
Posted: July 9, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Fincher

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Affirmed. The district court did not violate Defendant’s 6th Amendment rights in making a factual determination at sentencing that the possession of a firearm was in connection with Defendant’s drug offense, thus precluding Defendant from eligibility for safety-valve sentencing relief.
Posted: July 9, 2019, 8:00 am

USA v. Bekir Buluc

(United States Fifth Circuit) - Affirmed. Defendant, a Turkish national, was convicted for taking action to prevent his removal from the United States. While U.S. officers were escorting Defendant onto a flight to Turkey, he vigorously resisted the officers and the Airline refused to allow him to board because of his disruptive behavior.
Posted: July 9, 2019, 8:00 am

In re A.C.

(California Court of Appeal) - Reversed. A.C. is a ward of the juvenile court who made statements to an in-home counselor who interpreted them as threats. The juvenile court found that A.C. had violated the conditions of his probation by making criminal threats. The appeals court held that the statements made lacked the required intent that the threat be taken seriously.
Posted: July 9, 2019, 8:00 am

Hoffmann v. L. Pulido

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Vacated and remanded. The district court dismissed Plaintiff’s, a prisoner, lawsuit for failure to pay the filing fee. The district court reasoned that Plaintiff had filed previous suits and was disqualified from filing an action without paying the fee. The appeals court disagreed and found that not all of Plaintiff's previous filings counted as disqualifying strikes for the purpose of filing without paying the fee.
Posted: July 8, 2019, 8:00 am

United States v. Bleau

(United States Second Circuit) - Affirm. The question before the court is whether sentence enhancements can be applied based on mental but not physical pain being caused to a minor. Defendant was convicted of receiving and possessing child pornography that contained sadistic or other depictions of violence. The court held that increased sentence enhancement applies when there is a depiction of mental or physical cruelty to a minor.
Posted: July 8, 2019, 8:00 am

Samayoa v. Davis

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Reversed. The appeals court reversed the district court’s denial of a motion by a California death-row prisoner seeking state clemency for the appointment of additional counsel from the Federal Public Defender Services. The appeals court held that the availability of state-appointed counsel does not prevent additional clemency counsel under 18 USC section 3599.
Posted: July 3, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Flores

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Affirmed. The district court's refusal to hear a claim that a condition of supervised release was unconstitutionally vague was proper because the challenge had not been previously raised and was therefore waived.
Posted: July 3, 2019, 8:00 am

USA v Jones

(United States Fifth Circuit) - Vacate convictions. Defendant was convicted of possessing and conspiring to possess with intent to sell methamphetamine. The appeals court vacated the conviction because Defendant had been denied his rights under the Confrontation Clause.
Posted: July 2, 2019, 8:00 am

People v. Wright

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirmed order granting probation with amendments. Defendant admitted to acquiring personal identifying information with intent to defraud. The trial court placed Defendant on probation with various terms and conditions. Defendant appealed the conditions. Appeals court affirmed, but struck certain fees.
Posted: July 2, 2019, 8:00 am

People v Brackins

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirmed. Defendant was convicted of aggravated assault on former cohabitant, attempting to dissuade a witness and misdemeanor vandalism. On appeal, Defendant contends prejudicial error in denying modification to jury instruction. Appeals court rejected Defendant’s challenge and affirmed judgment.
Posted: July 2, 2019, 8:00 am

United States v. Brennan

(United States Second Circuit) - Affirm. Defendant challenged order of district court to commit him to custody of Attorney General for psychiatric treatment and evaluation to determine competency to stand trial. Defendant argued due process rights were violated because a forensic psychologist stated Defendant's disorder was degenerative and would not improve. Court found that Plaintiff’s argument failed because review of future competency is mandatory under 18 USC sec. 4241 and it was the court, not the psychologist who can determine competency. Commitment to AG for treatment and further evaluation reasonably related to future competency determination.
Posted: July 2, 2019, 8:00 am

People v Weaver

(California Court of Appeal) - Reversed and remanded for determination whether Defendant should be granted diversion under Penal Code sec. 1001.36. Defendant argued that there should have been a pretrial mental health diversion that should retroactively apply to him. Trial court rejected argument, appeals court reversed.
Posted: July 1, 2019, 8:00 am

People v Mendez

(Supreme Court of California) - Automatic appeal of death penalty conviction and sentence. Affirmed conviction and sentence.
Posted: July 1, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Morgan

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Affirmed. The district court did not violate a man's Fifth Amendment right to be free from double jeopardy when they made a second attempt to convict him of possession of methamphetamines with intent to deliver. The court could retry a case in which the jury was deadlocked without implicating double jeopardy.
Posted: July 1, 2019, 8:00 am

People v. Jones

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirmed. Defendant was convicted of sodomy of an unconscious victim. One of the trial exhibits was a video of an interview with a witness. What the witness said on the video was hard to understand at times, so a transcript was prepared. The trial court did not provide the jury with the video transcript. Defendant argued that to not provide the transcript was an error, because the transcript seemed to indicate victim was conscious and consented. The trial court said the video was evidence and not the transcript. The appellate court agreed.
Posted: June 28, 2019, 8:00 am

Doe v. Mattis

(United States DC Circuit) - Affirming. Doe is a US citizen in the custody of the Department of Defense after his capture in Syria. He sought to prevent his transfer during the pendancy of a habeas corpus claim since this would place him outside of the court's jurisdiction. The court affirmed a district court injunction barring the government from transferring Doe to Country B, and the injunction requiring 72 hours notice before transfer to Country A.
Posted: June 28, 2019, 8:00 am

People v. Chen

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirmed denial of motion to vacate a conviction under penal Code Section 1473.7. Defendant contended that her trial counsel failed to property advise her of adverse immigration consequences of plea agreement. Appeals court held that the evidence did not support her contention.
Posted: June 28, 2019, 8:00 am

Claiborne v. Blauser

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Reversed and Remanded. A convicted state inmate who alleged he was shackled without justification during his trial had raised Eighth Amendment excessive force and deliberate indifference to medical needs claims because the district court did not show any sufficient need for the restraints.
Posted: June 28, 2019, 8:00 am

People v Koback

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirmed conviction for assault with deadly weapon, but reversed sentence and remanded for trial court to consider whether concurrent sentencing is appropriate. Trial court believed it had no discretion and sentenced Defendant to consecutive terms. Appellate court held that there was discretion to impose concurrent sentences if offenses were committed on same occasion or convictions from same operative facts.
Posted: June 27, 2019, 8:00 am

Mitchell v. Wisconsin

(United States Supreme Court) - Held that when a motorist suspected of drunk driving is unconscious and cannot be given a breath test, the exigent-circumstances doctrine generally permits a blood test without a warrant. Justice Alito announced the judgment of the Court and delivered a plurality opinion, joined by three other justices. Justice Thomas concurring in the judgment.
Posted: June 27, 2019, 8:00 am

USA v. Charles Fulton, Sr.

(United States Fifth Circuit) - Affirmed denial of petition for rehearing. Defendant was convicted of sex trafficking and brought a petition for rehearing on the grounds that his Fourth Amendment rights were violated because of the search of his cellphone and he was not allowed to question minor victims. Appeals court held that evidence from cellphone was properly obtained and the effect of limiting cross-examination of witness was minimal, as there was ample other evidence of guilt.
Posted: June 27, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Lickers

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Affirming. A man's Fourth Amendment rights were not violated when police, on an undercover drug sting, spotted him sitting alone in a parked car watching a family with young children, discovered that he was engaging in indecent sexual conduct, and later found child pornography on electronic devices they searched.
Posted: June 27, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Yancey

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Affirmed. Police were conducting a lawful stop when they recognized the passenger of the car as someone potentially armed. He alleged his Fourth Amendment rights were violated when they stopped him from running away, but Supreme Court precedent permits police to detain passengers if they have a lawful reason to seize the driver.
Posted: June 27, 2019, 8:00 am

J.K.J. v. Polk County, Wisconsin

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Held that a Wisconsin county government was not liable for sexual assaults that a corrections officer committed against two inmates during their incarcerations. There was no connection between the assaults and any county policy. Reversed a jury verdict in relevant part.
Posted: June 26, 2019, 8:00 am

Palmer v. Franz

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Revived a prison inmate's claim that a registered nurse was deliberately indifferent to his serious medical need. The nurse allegedly refused to issue him a low-bunk permit, even though he was missing his left hand and could not safely climb down from a top bunk bed. Reversed summary judgment and remanded for further proceedings.
Posted: June 26, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Diggles

(United States Fifth Circuit) - Affirmed the convictions of three people for a fraudulent scheme related to obtaining federal hurricane disaster relief funds. However, remanded to reconsider the conditions of supervised release.
Posted: June 26, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Haymond

(United States Supreme Court) - Struck down a provision of the federal supervised-release statute, 18 U.S.C. section 3583(k). That section imposes mandatory minimum five-year sentences when a judge finds by a preponderance of the evidence that a defendant on supervised release committed one of several enumerated offenses, including possession of child pornography. Justice Gorsuch announced the judgment of the Court and delivered a plurality opinion on behalf of himself and three justices. Justice Breyer concurred in the judgment.
Posted: June 26, 2019, 8:00 am

Beason v. Marske

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Held that a defendant was entitled to habeas corpus relief from a mandatory minimum sentence under the Armed Career Criminal Act because, due to intervening changes in the law, he no longer had the necessary predicate convictions. Remanded for resentencing, in a decision that focused mainly on habeas-related procedural issues.
Posted: June 24, 2019, 8:00 am

People v Toledano

(California Court of Appeal) - Judgment reversed. A jury convicted Defendant of conspiracy to commit extortion. Defendant challenged the conviction based on jury instructions that he felt were in error. Appeals court agreed stating that there was sufficient evidence to support jury verdict, but judgment reversed because Defendant suffered prejudice because of trial court’s decision not to instruct jury of affirmative defense of litigation privilege.
Posted: June 24, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Harmelech

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Affirmed a business owner's sentence for mail fraud for engaging in a scheme to defraud another company. Rejected his challenge to a sentencing enhancement.
Posted: June 24, 2019, 8:00 am

Hyman v. Brown

(United States Second Circuit) - Reversed the granting of habeas corpus relief in a murder case. Held that a New York prison inmate did not make the compelling showing of actual innocence necessary for merits review of his procedurally barred claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. Disagreed with the district court's conclusion that he sufficiently demonstrated actual innocence.
Posted: June 24, 2019, 8:00 am

People v Korwin

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirmed. Defendant was convicted of exchanging sexually explicit messages with an undercover police officer that defendant believed was a 13-year-old girl. Defendant challenged conviction because the officer was not actually a minor. Trial court held that fact that the officer was not actually a minor was not a defense to an attempt to commit a sex offense with a minor. Appeals court affirmed.
Posted: June 24, 2019, 8:00 am

Rehaif v. US

(United States Supreme Court) - Interpreted a federal statute that prohibits felons and certain other individuals from knowingly possessing firearms. Held that the government must prove both that the defendant knew he possessed a firearm and that he knew he belonged to the relevant category of persons barred from possessing a firearm. Justice Breyer delivered the opinion of the 7-2 Court.
Posted: June 21, 2019, 8:00 am