SUPREME COURT REVERSES CONVICTION FOR TAMPERING WITH A FEDERAL WITNESS

Charles Andrew Fowler was convicted under the Federal witness tampering statute of killing an individual in an effort to prevent that person from reporting a Federal crime to a Federal agent or judge. It was alleged that Fowler and a group of friends gathered in a cemetary in the early hours of March 3, 1998 and made plans to rob a bank. They were discovered by Haines City, Florida police officer, Todd Horner. He pulled his gun and asked for […] Read more »

WISCONSIN SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS LWOP SENTENCE FOR 14 YEAR OLD

At age 14 Omer Ninham committed a vicious murder. While accompanied by four of his friends he purposelessly dropped a 13 year old boy from the fifth floor of a parking facility. The kid fell to the ground and died. Ninham was tried as an adult in Wisconsin and given the maximum sentence for an intentional homicide–life without parole (LWOP). The Supreme Court has dictated a two step process in determining whether the Eighth Amendment’s cruel and unusual punishment clause […] Read more »

US SUPREME COURT ORDERS REDUCTION IN THE NUMBER OF CALIFORNIA PRISONERS

The Supreme Court affirmed a decision of a special three judge district court finding that California State prisons are overcrowded to the point where they violate the Eighth amendment right against cruel and unusual punishment in that they are unable to provide decent medical and psychiatric care to inmates. Furthermore, the Court upheld the appellate decision requiring the state of California to release approximately 40,000 inmates in order to comply with the Eighth Amendment. The Prison Litigation Reform Act of […] Read more »

ANTIOCH CALIFORNIA POLICE OFFICERS LEAD CRIME WAVE

Former Antioch, California police officers Norman Wielsch, most recently head of the Central Contra Costa Narcotics Enforcement Team (CNET), and Christopher Butler, who now has a private detective agency along with San Ramon police officer, Louis Lombardi, were charged with stealing drugs from the CNET safe and selling them to Butler’s clients and to confidential informants. Lombardi was a member of CNET at the time of the thefts. Then Butler, and former Danville Officer Stephen Tanabe, were charged with setting […] Read more »

JUDGE DENIES DOMINIQUE STRAUSS-KAHN BAIL

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund and an expected candidate for president of France, was arrested in New York City and charged with sexually assaulting a housekeeper at his hotel. Judge Melissa C. Jackson, supervising judge of the Manhattan Criminal Court denied Strauss-Kahn bail at a hearing, Monday on the basis that he is a flight risk. The judge took note of the fact that he was arrested while on an Air France airplane within moments […] Read more »

SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS WARRANTLESS SEARCH FOR MARIJUANA

If “the needs of law enforcement so compelling that [a] warrantless search is objectively reasonable under the Fourth Amendment ” police may enter a residence without getting a search warrant. This is called the exigent circumstances exception to the Fourth Amendment. For example police may enter a residence if they have reason to believe that evidence is being destroyed. Some courts have ruled that the exigent circumstances rule does not apply when the police create the exigent circumstances. In Kentucky […] Read more »

HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT CHARGED WITH DISORDERLY CONDUCT FOR PUTTING A SEX LIST ON FACEBOOK

A seventeen year old Illinois high school student was kicked out of school and charged with disorderly conduct for placing a sex list on Facebook with “the names of approximately 50 female Oak Park River Forest High School students,” that “detailed their sexual behaviors, sexual characteristics and physical appearance. The list contained both explicit and derogatory language.” On the face of it this might sound like a violation of Illinois’ disorderly conduct statute which reads in part: (a) A person […] Read more »

FEDERAL COURT FINDS HEARSAY ADMISSIBLE AT SENTENCING DESPITE CONFRONTATION CLAUSE CHALLENGE

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals held that despite the significant changes in Confrontation Clause interpretation over the past several years hearsay remains admissible at sentencing. Solomon S. Powell was convicted of mail fraud. He collected money for sale of merchandise over the internet, but he rarely delivered the merchandise. Though eight victims testified at trial at sentencing the court relied upon the investigation of Postal Inspector Evelyn Cross who testified at the hearing that he harmed over fifty people […] Read more »

COURT VACATES CONVICTION FOR LACK OF EVIDENTIARY HEARING ON FOURTH AMENDMENT ISSUES

Under Federal law it is not necessary to hold a hearing on motions to suppress evidence unless their is a factual dispute that can not be settled without a hearing. In U.S. v. D’Andrea the First Circuit Court of Appeals vacated a conviction and remanded the case to the trial court for the court’s denial of a motion to suppress without a hearing. Kendra D’Andrea and Willie Jordan were charged with child abuse. D’Andrea accidentally sent photographs showing sexual abuse […] Read more »