CAREER CRIMINAL SENTENCE REVERSED

The procedural rules regarding writs of habeas corpus found in the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) are complicated and complying with them are often difficult. Many appellate decisions have been written regarding the rules. Yesterday, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision interpreting several issues. Reginald D. Purvis was convicted in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois of conspiracy to sell crack cocaine. Since he had two prior state court convictions […] Read more »

REPORT FINDS BRADY ERRORS IN PROSECUTION OF SENATOR STEVENS

George Bush’s Justice Department indicted former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens. He was tried and convicted on charges of failure to report financial contributions to the Senate. After the trial it was accidentally disclosed that government attorneys failed to turn over important Brady discovery. The government then moved to void the conviction with prejudice. The presiding judge, Emmet G. Sullivan ordered an independent investigation and appointed Washington attorneys Henry F. Schuelke, III and William B. Shields to perform the investigation. Schuelke […] Read more »

OREGON GOVERNOR JOHN KITZHABER SUSPENDS THE USE OF THE DEATH PENALTY

Oregon governor John Kitzhaber suspended the scheduled execution of Gary Haugen and he vowed to do the same for any other planned execution during his term of office. He called the death penalty morally wrong and promised to fight to change Oregon law to abolish the death penalty. Furthermore he said the system is expensive and unworkable. Two men have been executed in Oregon since it reinstated the death penalty in 1984. Both of the executions occurred during Kizhhaber’s first […] Read more »

ATTEMPT TO KILL THE PRESIDENT

Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez is being charged with attempting to assassinate the president for shooting at the White House last week. His conviction is hardly a forgone conclusion. For one thing to show that he “attempted” to assassinate the president the prosecution will have to show that he “intended” to kill Obama. This may be somewhat difficult since he shot several shots at the White House from 700 to 800 yards away, without knowing whether or not the president was home […] Read more »

COURT VOIDS PAT SEARCH FOR LACK OF EVIDENCE SUSPECT WAS ARMED AND DANGEROUS

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the conviction of Obie Lee Powell for possession of crack cocaine due to an illegal pat search of Powell. Powell was a back seat passenger in a car driven by Jermaine Mitchell. The car was pulled over by the police due to a burned out headlight. The officers did a license check on Powell, it came up suspended and the officer learned that Powell had a prior conviction for armed robbery. Based on […] Read more »

RODNEY ACALA FIGHTS EXTRADITION TO NEW YORK

Rodney Acala was convicted of killing four women and a young girl in California and was sentenced to death. He is now fighting extradition to New York where he faces two more murder cases. He says he needs to stay in California to prepare his appeal. The claim may be unique but he may have reasonable grounds for his request. He served as his own attorney in the murder trials and therefore he is the only one who can review […] Read more »

SUPREME COURT DENIES HABEAS AND FINDS ADMISSION OF MURDER UNCOERCED

Archie Dixon and Tim Hoffner kidnapped Chris Hammer, murdered him, stole his car and sold it. Hammer’s mother reported his disappearance the day after he was buried alive by Dixon and Hoffner. On November 4, 1993 the police had their first conversation with him when he dropped by the police station to retrieve his car which had been towed. They gave him his Miranda rights. He refused to answer questions and left. On November 9 he was arrested for forging […] Read more »

CALIFORNIA COURT REVERSES CONVICTION DUE TO ILLEGAL SEARCH

A California court had the opportunity last week to explore some of the questions left open by the Supreme Court in Arizona v. Gant.. Vernon Evan was driving his car in Los Angeles. An officer pulled him over for weaving and ordered him to get out of his car. He refused. After several attempts to get Evans to leave the vehicle an officer broke his window and maced the inside of the vehicle. After getting Evan out of the car […] Read more »

SUPREME COURT HEARS GPS CASE

The Supreme Court, Tuesday, heard the case of Antoine Jones, the Washington D. C. nightclub owner who was sentenced to life in prison for cocaine related charges after police placed a GPS device on his vehicle, without a search warrant and tracked him for a month. There is something basically wrong with the government being able to track citizens wherever they go and whatever they do. As Justice Breyer said, it “sounds like ‘1984.’ ” Breyer and Sotomeyer pointed out […] Read more »

SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS CONVICTION DESPITE BRUTON ERROR

The Supreme Court upheld a murder conviction despite a Bruton error. In 1968 the Supreme Court ruled in Bruton v. United States that the prosecution could not use a confession of a non-testifying co-defendant to convict someone. Furthermore it held that merely telling the jury to ignore the incriminating evidence found in the confession was insufficient. It was necessary to either sever the defendants or redact those part of the confession which identify co-defendants. At Eric Greene’s murder trial statement […] Read more »