McDONALD v. CHICAGO–PART I

The Supreme Court, in what is probably its most important decision of the year, decided that the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause incorporates the Second Amendment’s right to possess a gun. The ruling prevents the states from passing laws prohibiting people from owning guns, although it leaves the door open for limited exceptions such as preventing convicted felon from owning guns. The plurality opinion, written by Justice Alito, relying upon the Court’s Heller decision of two years ago, finds that […] Read more »

SUPREME COURT REDEFINES THE HONEST SERVICES DOCTRINE AND VACATES JEFFREY SKILLING’S CONSPIRACY CONVICTION

In my last post we looked at a section of the Anti-terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) which made it illegal to “knowingly provide material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization.” In that case the Supreme Court upheld the law against a claim that it violated due process by being vague. Today we are going to look at another case in which the Supreme Court last week ruled that a statute violated due process by be being […] Read more »

SUPREME COURT BROADLY INTERPRETS AID TO TERRORIST GROUPS

Several times we have discussed the habeas corpus related sections of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA). Today we look at another section of the act, 18 U. S. C. §2339B, which makes it a federal crime to “knowingly provide material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization.” The AEDPA was part of Newt Gingrich’s Contract on America which was passed and signed by President Clinton following the bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal Building. […] Read more »

SUPREME COURT LIMITS RESENTENCING IN ROCK COCAINE CASES

Percy Dillon was convicted of various drug offenses including some involving rock cocaine (also known as crack) in 1993, He was sentenced under the mandatory guidelines that were in effect at that time to 322 months in prison. At sentencing the judge said that if he had a choice he would sentence Dillon to five years but the guidelines left him with no choice. In 2005 the Supreme Court in United States v. Booker found the mandatory guidelines an unconstitutional […] Read more »

SUPREME COURT FINDS WORK RELATED SEARCH OF TEXT MESSAGES REASONABLE UNDER THE FOUTH AMENDMENT

Jeff Quon, as a member of the city of Ontario, California’s SWAT team, was assigned an alphanumeric pager, capable of sending text messages. The city had a contract under which it paid a flat fee for a limited number of text messages and then paid additional for each text message above the agreed upon number. Quon , fairly regularly exceeded the set number of messages. He was given the option of paying for the excess messages, which he accepted. But […] Read more »

SUPREME COURT RELAXES DEPORTATION RULES FOR THOSE CONVICTED OF POSSESSION OF NARCOTICS

Jose Angel Carachuri-Rosendo, a lawful permanent resident, was convicted of two drug related misdemeanors in Texas, First he was convicted of possession of less than two ounces of marijuana and then he plead guilty to possession of one anti-anxiety pill without a prescription. Normally conviction of a misdemeanor does not result in deportation. But under Federal law and under Texas law a second possessory conviction can be charged as a felony. Narcotics related felonies are considered aggravated felonies and are […] Read more »

SUPREME COURT RULES THAT RESTITUTION CAN BE ORDERED BEYOND THE NINETY DAY LIMIT SET IN THE MANDATORY RESTITUTION ACT

The Supreme Court Monday decided that the Federal District Courts did not lose jurisdiction to set restitution ninety days after sentencing despite a ninety day deadline in the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act. The Mandatory Victims Restitution Act provides that, if the information is available the court shall set the amount of restitution at sentencing. If ten days before sentencing their is insufficient information to set the amount of restitution the court shall set a date within ninety days after sentencing […] Read more »

SUPREME COURT APPROVES EQUITABLE TOLLING OF AEDPA DEADLINE

Albert Holland was convicted of murder in Florida and sentenced to death. He appealed his conviction to the U. S. Supreme Court which denied cert on October 1, 2001, ending direct review and starting a one year period, mandated by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) within which he may file a Federal habeas. Post conviction counsel, Bradley Collins, was appointed on November 7, 2001. Twelve days before the year was up Collins filed post conviction motions in […] Read more »

FIFTH CIRCUIT RULES THAT INJURY TO A CHILD IS NOT A CRIME OF VIOLENCE UNDER THE GUIDELINES

German Ordino-Ortega was sentenced to 60 months in the Federal prison for being unlawfully present in the united States following deportation. The sentence was based on a base offense level of eight and an 16-level enhancement for having a prior conviction for a crime of violence. However, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a conviction for injury to a child under the Texas Penal Code did not qualify as a crime of violence. A crime of violence, according […] Read more »

NO AFRICAN AMERICANS ON THE JURY AS TRIAL OF JOHANNES MEHSERLE BEGINS FOR THE MURDER OF OSCAR GRANT

A jury of eight women and four men was selected in the Los Angeles murder trial of former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle for the New Years Day 2009 Oakland murder of Oscar Grant. The trial was moved away from Oakland where racial tensions are high over the shooting by the white BART police officer of the African American youth. The jury includes seven whites, four Hispanics and one East Indian. The shooting which was caught on a number of […] Read more »