THE SUPREME COURT REVERSES NINTH CIRCUIT SORNA DECISION FOR MOOTNESS

At 13 years old the respondent, in a Supreme Court case, began sexually assaulting a ten year old boy on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation in Montana. The assaults continued for two years. In 2005 the respondent admitted to juvenile delinquency allegations in Federal Court. He was sentenced to two years of juvenile detention followed by juvenile supervision until his 21st birthday with the first six months of the supervision served in a prerelease center. In 2006 Congress passed the […] Read more »

SUPREME COURT REAFFIRMS MELENDEZ-DIAZ

Last year in Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts the Supreme Court ruled that the admittance at trial of a lab report without the testimony of its author violated the Sixth Amendment Confrontation Clause. But sometimes saying something once is not enough. In nearly identical facts to Melendez-Diaz the Supreme Court of New Mexico approved the admittance of a blood alcohol test when the New Mexico Court allowed the prosecutor to use the testimony of a chemist other than the one who performed […] Read more »

REDUCTION IN CRACK SENTENCES APPLIES TO “C” PLEAS

William Freeman entered a “C” plea in Federal Court to possession of crack cocaine. A “C” plea is a guilty plea pursuant to Rule 11(c)(1)(C) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. Under Rule 11(c)(1)(C) the defendant and the government agree on a particular sentence and once the judge agrees to the plea the judge is required to go along with the stipulated sentence. The agreement between the parties stated that Freeman would get 106 months and that the figure […] Read more »

SUPREME COURT DENIES AUTOMATIC RIGHT TO APPOINTED COUNSEL IN CIVIL CONTEMPT CASES

While in a few civil cases the Supreme Court has ruled that there is a right to appointed counsel, the general rule is that there is no right to appointed counsel in civil cases, even when a party faces incarceration. The Supreme Court has ruled that the Sixth Amendment right to counsel only applies to criminal cases, Yet in some civil cases defendants are facing significant jail time. In Turner v. Rogers, decided Monday, the question was whether the Fourteenth […] Read more »

SUPREME COURT ALLOWS USE OF THE TENTH AMENDMENT AS A DEFENSE

Last week in Bond v. United States the Supreme Court held that an individual harmed by a Federal statute may claim that it violates the Tenth Amendment. The Tenth Amendment says: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. Carol Anne Bond learned that her best friend was about to give birth to Bond’s husband’s child. To put it mildly […] Read more »

SUPREME COURT ORDERS CONSIDERATION OF JUVENILE’S AGE IN MIRANDA CASE

A thirteen year old North Carolina boy was removed from his classroom by a uniformed officer. He was taken to a room where he was interrogated by a police officer, a school security guard, and an assistant principal. He was not Mirandized. During the interrogation he made statements that incriminated himself in two burglaries. An unmirandized statement cannot be used against a defendant if the statement was made while the defendant was being interrogated while the defendant is in custody. […] Read more »

SCOTUS: NEED FOR REHABILITATION NOT A REASON TO LENGTHEN SENTENCE

Alejandra Tapia was convicted in Federal Court of smuggling unauthorized aliens into the United States. The sentencing guidelines indicated a sentence between 41 and 51 months. In sentencing Tapia to 51 months the court stated that it wanted her to serve a sentence long enough for her to be admitted into and to complete the Bureau of Prison’s (BOP) Residential Drug Abuse Program (known as RDAP or the 500 Hour Drug Program). On appeal the issue was whether the trial […] Read more »

THE SUPREME COURT TAKES A SHOT AT THE EXCLUSIONARY RULE

In Davis v. United States the Supreme Court took another blow at the Exclusionary Rule. It ruled that the good faith exception should be applied to situations in which the police rely upon settled law that is later overturned by the Supreme Court. In 2007 relying upon Eleventh Circuit interpretation of Belton v. New York, Greenville, Alabama police arrested the two people in an automobile, handcuffed them and placed them in a police car. Then they searched the vehicle and […] Read more »

SECURITIES FRAUD CONVICTION REVERSED FOR LACK OF VENUE

Julian Tzolov and Eric Butler were charged in a three count indictment in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York with security fraud. Both in the trial court and on appeal they challenged venue in the Eastern District of New York. In Count I they were charged with Conspiracy to Commit Securities Fraud. In Count II they were charged with Securities Fraud in relation to the collapse of the auction rate securities (“ARS”) market in […] Read more »

FIFTH CIRCUIT DENIES SECOND AMENDMENT PROTECTION TO UNDOCUMENTED ALIENS

The Fifth Circuit, in United States v. Portillo-Muniz faced the question, this week, as to whether undocumented aliens are covered by the Second Amendment. Armando Portillo-Muniz was charged with possession of a firearm by an undocumented individual in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(5). He had a .22 caliber handgun in the center console of his vehicle. The Court found that undocumented aliens are not covered by the Second Amendment. The Second Amendment, like the First Amendment and the Fourth […] Read more »