Criminal Law and Procedure: Case Summaries Update September 24, 2008

Source: Pace and Schmidt

For personal use only — Not for Commercial Distribution:

Criminal Law & Procedure [09/24] US v. Vega
In a case challenging the conditions of supervised release, the sentence is affirmed where: 1) the condition that defendant abstain from alcohol was not a abuse of discretion; 2) the condition requiring community service when unemployed was not an abuse of discretion; and 3) the condition against “association” with “any member of any criminal street gang” specifically “Harpys street gang” was not impermissibly vague, impliedly excluded inadvertent association, and was not plain error.

[09/24] US v. McCalla
In a case challenging the constitutionality of federal child pornography laws applied to intrastate production of child pornography, denial of motions to dismiss is affirmed where there is a rational basis to believe that homegrown production of child pornography, even absent evidence of a commercial intent, would affect interstate commerce.

[09/24] US v. Bhatia
In a wire fraud and money laundering case, interlocutory appeal of denial of a motion to dismiss is denied for lack of res judicata or collateral estoppel where the government did not assume control of prior civil litigation so was not in privity with plaintiffs from the prior litigation.

[09/24] US v. Gomez-Leon
In a case challenging an enhanced sentence imposed for illegal reentry after deportation, the sentence is reversed and remanded where: 1) the district court erred by enhancing defendant’s sentence under U.S. Sentencing Guidelines (USSG) section 2L1.2(b)(1)(A)(I) because the government failed to show that defendant’s sentence for his prior drug trafficking offense exceeded thirteen months; and 2) defendant’s conviction under California Penal Code section 192(c)(3) for vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated without gross negligence was not a “crime of violence” allowing a sixteen point enhancement under USSG section 2L1.2(b)(1)(A)(ii).

[09/24] Ngaeth v. Mukasey
In an immigration case, the Court denies petition for review of denial of a motion to reopen the case where a conviction for entering a locked vehicle with the intent to commit theft under California Penal Code section 459 constitutes an attempted theft offense allowing removal of a lawful permanent resident as an aggravated felon under 8 U.S.C. section 1101(a)(43)(U).

[09/24] Thomas v. State of Rhode Island
In a suit brought by members of an Indian tribe claiming that state officials violated their constitutional rights by arresting them without lawful authority on tribal lands for alleged cigarette tax violations, dismissal of action for failure to state a claim is affirmed over claims of error that: 1) the court construed their allegations too narrowly, thereby ignoring a viable Fourth Amendment claim based on the lack of probable cause for arrest; and 2) the court wrongly denied their request to amend the complaint, thereby denying them the opportunity to remedy any tax deficiencies.

[09/24] Brown v. Texas
Conviction and sentence of death for capital murder are affirmed on automatic appeal over claims of error regarding: 1) the corroboration of the testimony of an accomplice-witness; 2) defendant’s requests to shuffle the jury panel; and 3) improper statements during closing arguments made by the prosecutor.

[09/24] Clarke v. Texas
In a prosecution for sexual assault, denial of a Brady claim as waived by defendant’s failure to raise it during proceedings on a motion for a new trial is reversed and remanded for consideration on the merits where, under Appellate Rule 33.1, a claim that the trial court erred in denying a motion for new trial is preserved for appellate review if the nature of the ground allegedly warranting the new trial is raised and litigated, without objection, at some point during the motion-for-new-trial proceedings.

[09/24] US v. Polihonki
A sentence imposed following revocation of defendant’s supervised release is affirmed over defendant’s claim that the sentence, which was two months longer than the applicable Sentencing Guidelines range, was both procedurally and substantively unreasonable.

[09/24] Smith v. Berghuis
Denial of a petition for habeas relief from a conviction and life sentence for second degree murder and felony possession of a firearm is reversed where petitioner demonstrated a violation of his Sixth Amendment right to a jury drawn from a fair cross-section of the community, and the Michigan Supreme Court unreasonably applied federal law when it held that underrepresentation of African Americans county venire panels did not occur as a result of systematic exclusion.

[09/24] US v. Carmenate
Conviction for bank fraud is affirmed where defendant’s waiver of his constitutional right to a jury trial was knowing, voluntary, and intelligent in light of defendant’s: 1) presence at a pre-trial conference at which his attorney requested a bench trial; 2) presence at another pre-trial conference at which the District Court requested a written waiver; 3) counsel’s letter to the District Court requesting a bench trial; 4) oral waiver of his right after questioning by the District Court; and 5) personal knowledge of the criminal justice system.

[09/24] US v. Cote
In a case against in which defendant-state correctional officer for bodily injury sustained by a pre-trial detainee, judgment of acquittal and grant of new trial is reversed where: 1) the district court erred in granting defendant a judgment of acquittal, as the evidence was sufficient to support the jury’s verdict of guilt; 2) the district court abused its discretion in conditionally granting defendant a new trial; and 3) defendant’s contentions on cross-appeal were without merit, because the record evinced that defendant waived any statute of limitations challenge, and the doctrine of dual sovereignty foreclosed his double jeopardy claim.

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