SUPREME COURT REINSTATES MURDER CONVICTION

The Supreme Court Tuesday reversed a Third Circuit Court of Appeals decision because a rational trier of the fact could have agreed with the jury that Lorenzo Johnson was an accomplice and co-conspirator in the murder of Taraja Williams. On December 14, 1995 Johnson, Corey Walker, and Victoria Doubs were “running the streets” together. They ran into Williams at Kentucky Fried Chicken. Walker decided to collect a debt from Williams. Walker, not only did not collect the debt, but Williams […] Read more »

SUPREME COURT LIMITS PROTECTION UNDER THE DOUBLE JEOPARDY CLAUSE

One-year-old Matthew McFadden, Jr. died as a result of severe injuries suffered while he was home alone with his mother’s boyfriend, Alex Blueford. Blueford was arrested and charged with capital murder. The jury also had the choice of convicting him on first degree murder, manslaughter, or negligent homicide. The judge instructed the jury: “If you have a reasonable doubt of the defendant’s guilt on the charge of capital murder, you will consider the charge of murder in the first degree. […] Read more »

SIXTH CIRCUIT GRANTS HABEAS DUE TO INCOMPETENT ADVICE OF COUNSEL

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, citing the recent Supreme Court case, Lafler v. Cooper, found a criminal defense attorney incompetently advised his client to reject a plea bargain. Under the classic Supreme Court incompetence of counsel case, Strickland v. Washington, in order to find incompetence of counsel in a criminal case a defendant must prove that counsel acted below the standard expected of counsel and that the defendant was prejudiced by counsel’s actions. Vonlee Nicole Titlow was convicted for […] Read more »

NINTH CIRCUIT REVERSES CONVICTION FOR FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH THE FOURTH AMENDMENT

Los Angeles Police Department Detective Todd Hankel was surveilling a suspected stash house in Pacoima, California. He observed a man later identified as Jesus Antonio Ramos Cervantes approach in a truck. Cervantes got out of the truck, went into the residence and came out carrying a large white box. LAPD officers followed him to a house on Polk Street using a indirect route. He left the residence with another man in a BMW. They returned and Cervantes left the house […] Read more »

STOPS AND FRISKS ON THE INCREASE IN NEW YORK CITY

New York City police stopped 203,500 people in the first three months of this year. This is a record high for the city’s “Stop, Question, Frisk” program which police credit with decreasing the number of homicides in the city. Last year there were 685,724 stop-and-frisk encounters in the city. Only 5 percent of the stops in the first three months of the year led to arrests and 5 percent more led to citations for infractions. One of the problems with […] Read more »

COURT FINDS ILLINOIS’ EAVESDROPPING ACT UNCONSTITUTIONAL

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeal held that Illinois Eavesdropping Act which makes it a felony to record a police officer in public unless all parties to the conversation consent to the audiotaping “likely violates” he First Amendment and granted a preliminary injunction against Cook County State’s Attorney preventing them from enforcing the act. The Illinois eavesdropping statute makes it a felony to record any voice without the permission of everyone being recorded, If the person being recorded is a […] Read more »

COURT: VIEWING CHILD PORNOGRAPHY NOT A CRIME IN NEW YORK

The New York Court of Appeals held that a conviction for possession of child pornography, found in “cache files,” or temporary internet files, under New York law, requires the prosecution to show that the defendant knew that pornography could be found in such files. Furthermore the court held that merely viewing web pages with child pornography under New York law does not constitute either possession or procurement of child pornography. James D. Kent was convicted on two counts of procurement […] Read more »

FELONY HAZING CHARGES IN THE DEATH OF FAMU’S ROBERT CHAMPION

Felony hazing charges were filed against 11 people involved in the death of FAMU drum major Robert Champion last year. Two others were charged with misdemeanors for participation in the incident. Champion was the subject of ritualistic band hazing while the band was in Orlando for the Florida Classic football game. The hazing incident occurred on a bus rented for the Marching 100 FAMU’s award winning band after the school lost a football game. “Some university band members have said […] Read more »

FOURTH CIRCUIT PERMITS ADMISSION OF GUN FOUND DURING PROTECTIVE SWEEP

On February 27, 2011 the Ohio County, West Virginia Sheriff’s Department received a number of 911 calls from the family of Shannalee Kuri complaining that her boyfriend, Jordan Laudermilt, had a gun and was threatening to kill them. Several officers arrived on the scene. They met Kuri’s family outside Laudermilt’s residence. Although unaware of the police presence Laudermilt made a number of trips exiting from and entering the residence. On one of the trips, when the police were certain that […] Read more »

ELEVENTH CIRCUIT UPHOLDS TERMINATION OF SUPERVISED RELEASE

In United States v. Johnson, Tuesday, the sole issue before the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals was whether “a single incident of extreme domestic violence” was sufficient to terminate Johnson’s supervised release. The court had no problem finding that it was. It did so even though it did not explain the legal reasoning for its finding. But the facts were sufficiently horrendous that the court did not seem to care. The court pointed out that Johnson stood on the victim’s […] Read more »