SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS QUALIFIED IMMUNITY FOR OFFICER ENTERING RESIDENCE

In its first decision of the 2013-2014 season the Supreme Court reversed a finding by the Ninth Circuit that an officer was not protected by qualified immunity for entering a residence in hot pursuit. When La Mesa, California police officer Mike Stanton responded to a complaint of a street disturbance he found three men standing on the street. While he did not see a crime in progress, one of the men, Nicholas Patrick ran into a nearby house. Sims ordered […] Read more »

THE SUPREME COURT AND DNA

Probably the most important criminal case decided by the Supreme Court this year was Maryland v. King. The Supreme Court upheld the taking of a DNA sample from a person arrested for a felony. It found that the taking of a DNA sample permissible under the Fourth Amendment. Alonzo King was arrested in Maryland in 2009 for “first and second-degree assault for menacing a group of people with a shotgun.” Upon his arrest he was taken to the jail and […] Read more »

THOUGHTS ON THE ZIMMERMAN VERDICT

The verdict was correct. The jury weighed the evidence and found that the state had failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. This does not mean that Zimmerman was factually innocent. Nor does it mean that he did not murder Trayvon Martin. What it does mean is that the prosecution has a duty to present sufficient evidence for the jury to find beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman was guilty. It did not do so. The prosecution did […] Read more »

SUPREME COURT EXTENDS MARTINEZ

In Trevino v. Thaler the Supreme Court expanded on it’s finding in Martinez v. Ryan In Coleman v. Thompson the Supreme Court stated that that“[n]egligence on the part of a prisoner’s postconviction attorney does not qualify as ‘cause’ to reverse a conviction. But in Martinez the Supreme Court found an exception to Coleman in states like Arizona where (1) the claim of “ineffective assistance of trial counsel” was a “substantial” claim; (2) the “cause” consisted of there being “no counsel” […] Read more »

SUPREME COURT LIMITS ANTI-TERRORISM AND EFFECTIVE DEATH PENALY ACT

In McQuiggin v. Perkins the Supreme Court, last month, made a small hole in the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA), passed in the wake of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, which practically abolished the writ of habeas corpus. In 2004 the Federal courts granted writs of habeas corpus in only 4 per cent of the writs filed in death penalty cases and in only 0.45 per cent of all […] Read more »

ONE JUDGE DIES FROM AN OVERDOSE–SECOND JUDGE CHARGED WITH POSSESSION

Michael Cook, St. Clair County, Illinois drug court judge resigned after he was charged in Federal Court with possession of heroin and related weapons charges. His friend and colleague on the bench, Judge Joseph D. Christ, a former prosecutor died in Cook’s family hunting cabin from a cocaine overdose in March. Cook was the only other person present in the lodge but he is not considered a suspect. At the time of his arrest Cook was at the residence of […] Read more »

INTERNET DOWN

Sorry folks my internet is down. I am using whatever wifi I can find but the internet should be back up later this week. Read more »

SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS RETROACTIVE APPLICATION OF MICHIGAN DECISION

Burt Lancaster was convicted of first degree murder in Michigan for killing his girl friend. He plead diminished capacity but was convicted any way. At the time of the offense there were a number of Michigan appellate decisions upholding a defense of diminished-capacity but the Michigan Supreme Court had not acted on the matter. A diminished-capacity defense allows “a defendant . . . although he was legally sane, [to present] evidence of some mental abnormality to negate the specific intent […] Read more »

FLORIDA MANDATES SEARCH WARRANT TO SEARCH CELL PHONE OF IN CUSTODY SUSPECTS

The Florida Supreme Court held this month, that once a cell phone is seized from a suspect who is in custody, the police need a search warrant to view the contents on the phone. Tyrone Smallwood was a arrested for a robbery of a convenience store. While he wore a mask the cashier recognized his voice as that of a regular customer. At the time of his arrest police seized his cell phone. After Smallwood was arrested and placed in […] Read more »

MIRANDA WARNINGS AND THE BOSTON MARATHON BOMBING

There are many interesting legal issues surrounding the Boston Marathon bombing. Today I would like to discuss the Miranda Warning issue. Peace officers investigating the Boston Marathon bombing did not read Dzhokhar Tsarnaev his Miranda rights prior to interrogating him. As any watcher of crime programs on TV knows the cops are supposed to tell a defendant that she/he has the right to remain silent; the right to have his/her attorney present during there questioning and that anything they say […] Read more »