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Petitioner appealed the district court's denial of his first federal petition for a writ of habeas corpus. The Ninth Circuit affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for an evidentiary hearing on one of petitioner's penalty-phase ineffective assistance of counsel claims. The panel held that petitioner was entitled to equitable tolling for the period from August 29, 1998, to September 17, 1999, and thus reversed the district court's contrary ruling. The panel remanded for further proceedings as to Claims 1(C), 1(D), 1(E), 1(H), 1(I), 1(J), 9, and 14. In regard to two related claims alleging ineffective assistance of trial counsel, the panel held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying an evidentiary hearing as to Claim 1(A). However, the district court abused its discretion in denying an evidentiary hearing as to Claim (F). Therefore, the panel remanded for the district court to hold an evidentiary hearing so that it may properly assess whether the evidence of petitioner's childhood abuse and trauma -- in combination with the brain damage evidence that was not on its own sufficient -- gave rise to a reasonable probability that the outcome of petitioner's sentencing hearing would have been different. Finally, the panel affirmed the district court's denial of petitioner's motion for relief under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b). View "Williams v. Filson" on Justia Law

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In 1992-2006, Snider committed various crimes, including four convictions under Tennessee’s aggravated burglary statute. In 2007, he was convicted of conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine, 21 U.S.C. 846; manufacturing and attempting to manufacture over 50 grams of methamphetamine, 21 U.S.C. 841(a)(1) and 846; possessing equipment, chemicals, products, and materials that may be used to manufacture methamphetamine, 21 U.S.C. 843(a)(6); possessing a firearm after being convicted of a felony, 18 U.S.C 922(g); possessing a stolen firearm, 18 U.S.C. 922(j); and possessing a firearm during and in relation to a drug-trafficking crime, 18 U.S.C. 924(c). Snider was sentenced as a career criminal offender based on three Tennessee aggravated burglary convictions deemed crimes of violence (USSG 4B1.1(b)(B)), which was defined to include “burglary of a dwelling.” The Sixth Circuit affirmed the denial of Snider’s motion (28 U.S.C. 2255) to vacate his sentence, rejecting his argument that its 2017 "Stitt" ruling that a conviction for Tennessee aggravated burglary is not a “violent felony” under the Armed Career Criminal Act, 18 U.S.C. 924(e) required that it vacate his sentence as a career offender under the sentencing guidelines. Snider’s challenge to his advisory guidelines range is not cognizable under section 2255, which authorizes post-conviction relief only when a sentence “was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, or . . . the court was without jurisdiction ... or . . . the sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized by law, or is otherwise subject to collateral attack.” View "Snider v. United States" on Justia Law

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Defendant Jay Giannukos appealed two convictions involving the illegal possession of firearms. While conducting a parole search of Giannukos’s home, officers found two firearms, methamphetamine, and counterfeiting equipment. A grand jury indicted Giannukos on four counts: (1) possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine; (2) possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime; (3) being a felon in possession of a firearm; and (4) counterfeiting Federal Reserve Notes with the intent to defraud. A jury convicted Giannukos of all counts. Giannukos appealed Counts 2 and 3, arguing that the district court gave an erroneous constructive possession jury instruction and that the prosecutor made improper statements during her closing argument. After review of the trial court record, the Tenth Circuit agreed, reversed and remanded the case for a new trial. View "United States v. Giannukos" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed in part the decision of the court of appeals denying Defendant’s ineffective assistance of counsel claim on appeal, holding that the court erred in finding that Defendant waived his ineffective assistance claim by only including a cursory discussion of ineffective assistance in a footnote. Defendant was convicted of drug offenses. On appeal, the court of appeals held (1) there was sufficient evidence to support the convictions, and (2) Defendant failed to preserve error on his ineffective assistance of counsel claim. On further review, the Supreme Court held that the court of appeals erred in rejecting Defendant’s ineffective assistance claim rather than preserving it for a postconviction relief proceeding. The Court then affirmed the judgment of the district court and instructed that Defendant could bring a separate postconviction relief action based on his ineffective assistance of counsel claim. View "State v. Harris" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction of first-degree murder murder and second-degree arson and the sentences imposed in connection with the convictions, holding that the evidence was sufficient to support the convictions and that Defendnat's trial counsel was not ineffective. On appeal, Defendant argued that the evidence at trial was insufficient to prove the elements of her convictions and that her trial counsel provided ineffective assistance in eight respects. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the evidence was sufficient to support the convictions and that the record refuted Defendant’s claims of ineffective assistance. View "State v. Golyar" on Justia Law

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Strand, a truck driver, stopped to take a mandatory drug screening test and received permission to park his rig outside a nearby Planned Parenthood office. Officer Minchuk, working security at Planned Parenthood, in uniform, reported to work, noticed the truck, and wrote parking tickets. Strand found the tickets and tried to explain that he did not see any no‐parking signs and had received permission. Minchuk allegedly solicited a bribe. Strand used his cell phone to take pictures to contest the tickets. Minchuk ordered Strand to leave. Strand said he would leave when he finished. Minchuk admonished, “I told you to get the f*** outta here,” and slapped Strand’s cell phone to the ground. Minchuk demanded Strand’s identification; Strand refused. Minchuk grabbed Strand, resulting in Strand’s shirt tearing off his body. Minchuk attempted to push Strand, with Strand holding Minchuk’s arm. Both fell to the ground. Strand punched Minchuk in the face and placed his hands on Minchuk’s throat. Minchuk testified that this caused him to fear for his life. Strand then stood up, backed away, put his hands up, and said, “I surrender, I’m done.” Minchuk removed his gun and fired a shot, striking Strand in the abdomen. Strand was convicted of committing felony battery of a police officer. Strand sued, 42 U.S.C. 1983. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the denial of Minchuk’s motion for qualified immunity. A material question of fact exists as to whether Strand continued to pose a threat at the exact moment Minchuk fired the shot. View "Strand v. Minchuk" on Justia Law

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The government's decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is subject to judicial review. Upon review, the Ninth Circuit held that plaintiffs are likely to succeed on their claim that the rescission of DACA is arbitrary, capricious, or otherwise not in accordance with law. After concluding that neither the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) nor the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) precluded judicial review, the panel held that DACA was a permissible exercise of executive discretion, notwithstanding the Fifth Circuit's conclusion that the related Deferred Action for Parent Arrivals (DAPA) program exceeded DHS's statutory authority. In this case, DACA was being implemented in a manner that reflected discretionary, case-by-base review, and at least one of the Fifth Circuit's key rationales in striking down DAPA was inapplicable with respect to DACA. Therefore, because the Acting Secretary was incorrect in her belief that DACA was illegal and had to be rescinded, the panel held that plaintiffs were likely to succeed in demonstrating that the rescission must be set aside. The panel also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in issuing a nationwide injunction; the district court properly dismissed plaintiffs' APA notice and comment claim and substantive due process rights claim; and the district court properly denied the government's motion to dismiss plaintiffs' APA arbitrary and capricious claim, due process rights claim, and equal protection claim. Accordingly, the panel affirmed the district court's grant of preliminary injunctive relief, and affirmed in part the district court's partial grant and partial denial of the government's motion to dismiss. View "Regents of the University of California v. USDHS" on Justia Law

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While in prison serving a life without parole sentence, Byron Scherf murdered a prison guard. He was tried, convicted of aggravated murder, and sentenced to death. In his appeal, he raised multiple claims of error: procedural, statutory, and constitutional. Based on the holding of Washington v. Gregory, No. 88086-7 (Wash. Oct. 11, 2018), the Washington Supreme Court vacated the sentence, but affirmed the conviction. View "Washington v. Scherf" on Justia Law

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The question this case presented for the Washington Supreme Court’s review was whether detaining an incompetent defendant in jail for 76 days before providing competency restoration treatment violates his substantive due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The trial court found Anthony Hand incompetent to stand trial and ordered Western State Hospital (WSH) to admit Hand within 15 days for competency restoration treatment. Hand remained in county jail for 61 days after the court's 15 day deadline, for a total of 76 days of confinement. Hand's competency was eventually restored through treatment at WSH. He was subsequently convicted on both charges. Hand argued the State violated his substantive due process rights by detaining him in jail for 76 days before admitting him to WSH for treatment, and that the proper remedy was dismissal with prejudice. After review, the Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals and held that detaining Hand in county jail for 76 days violated his due process rights but that dismissal with prejudice, the only relief Hand requested, was not warranted. View "Washington v. Hand" on Justia Law

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In 1995, Derek Gronquist was sentenced to three consecutive, 114-month terms of total confinement for three counts of attempted first-degree kidnapping with a special finding of sexual motivation. On petition to the Washington Supreme Court, Gronquist claimed his sentence expired in 2016, so his continued confinement was unlawful. The Department of Corrections contended Gronquist’s sentence was to expire in 2022. The Supreme Court determined the DOC sentence tracking system was “complicated, its explanations have been confusing and contradictory, and it has not pointed to clear legal authority directly supporting its position.” However, the Court concluded Gronquist had not shown his continued confinement was unlawful either. “DOC has no authority to change the length of Gronquist’s sentence or to run any portion of his consecutive terms concurrently. Gronquist’s proposed sentence structure, however, would require it to do so.” The Court therefore denied relief on Gronquist’s personal restraint petition. View "In re Pers. Restraint of Gronquist" on Justia Law