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The Fifth Circuit denied petitioner a certificate of appealability (COA), dismissed his appeal for lack of jurisdiction, and sanctioned him for appealing his collateral attack on his conviction. The court held that a denial of a motion to quash a writ of execution under 28 U.S.C. 1291 is a final decision. The court affirmed the district court's denial of petitioner's request to quash the government's writ of execution. The court held that the statutes governing restitution granted petitioner the right to reduce his restitution order based on subsequent civil judgments. However, the court rejected petitioner's collateral attack on the restitution order and held that he did not meet the evidentiary requirements of 18 U.S.C. 3664(j)(2). View "United States v. Parker" on Justia Law

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Three-month-old J.J. was left in the care of his father, Felton, for the first time. Others visited during the day. That night, J.J. was rushed to the hospital. Doctors discovered that J.J. had a skull fracture, bleeding in his brain, and retinal hemorrhages. J.J. died. Felton was taken to jail on a probation hold. Felton told police that J.J. had hit his head in the bathtub. Another inmate, House, testified that Felton said he had swung J.J. into a bathroom door. Two treating physicians testified that J.J.’s death was, in part, due to shaking. The medical examiner concluded that blunt force trauma was the cause of death. Felton was convicted of first-degree intentional homicide. Felton unsuccessfully sought post‐conviction relief in Wisconsin state courts based on ineffective assistance of counsel, citing his attorney’s failure to object to the prosecutor’s closing argument statement that House could not receive a sentence modification for his testimony, and the attorney’s failure to secure medical expert testimony. At the post‐conviction hearing, three medical experts testified J.J. had not been shaken and J.J.’s injuries were consistent with a fall of two to four feet. The district court and Seventh Circuit denied Felton’s petition for habeas relief. The state court was not unreasonable in concluding that Felton was not prejudiced; there was no substantial likelihood of a different result had counsel objected to the closing argument statement. The habeas medical testimony would not have supported the claim that J.J.’s death was caused by his bathtub fall. View "Felton v. Bartow" on Justia Law

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The Fourth Circuit held that Chapter 313 of Title 18, and 18 U.S.C. 4248 in particular, did not authorize the district court to dismiss the section 4248 proceeding against respondent on the ground that he was found to be mentally incompetent. The court also held that section 4248 does not violate the Due Process Clause and that the risk of an erroneous deprivation of respondent's liberty interest is substantially and adequately mitigated by the broad array of procedures required for a section 4248 commitment, particularly as they apply to incompetent persons. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's judgment and remanded with instructions that the district court promptly conduct a section 4248 hearing to determine whether respondent is sexually dangerous and therefore must be committed to the custody of the Attorney General. View "United States v. White" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 alleging that defendant, a police officer, used excessive force in arresting plaintiff after an intense hand-to-hand struggle between the men. The Fourth Circuit reversed the district court's holding on remand that the officer was entitled to qualified immunity as a matter of law. The court held that the district court again based its qualified immunity holding on inferences drawn in favor of the officer, but it was obligated to construe the salient facts in the light most favorable to plaintiff, as the party opposing summary judgment. On plaintiff's version of the disputed facts, construed in the light most favorable to him, the court held that a reasonable jury could find a violation of plaintiff's clearly established Fourth Amendment rights. Therefore, the district court erred in awarding summary judgment to the officer because there remained genuine disputes of fact regarding the officer's entitlement to qualified immunity. View "Harris v. Pittman" on Justia Law

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Senn testified that he saw Winkler and Jenkins in his yard. Jenkins dropped a gasoline jug and ran into the woods with Winkler. Senn told his wife, Sherri, to call the police and fired shots into the woods. Senn smelled gasoline and saw that it had been poured on his porch, the side of his house, and on his cars. Sherri testified that her brother, Abercrombie, had a long-running feud with Winkler. Abercrombie lived approximately 100 yards from her house. Sherri testified that, days before the incident, her sister-in-law played for her a voicemail message from Winkler, stating: “You are going to die, you are going to burn.” Winkler unsuccessfully moved to impeach Senn with his previous felony conviction for reckless endangerment. Winkler unsuccessfully objected to Sherri’s testimony as inadmissible character evidence. Convicted of two counts of attempted first-degree murder and for attempted aggravated arson, Winkler appealed. His counsel filed the trial record, except for the transcript of his motion for a new trial. Without it, the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals reviewed the evidentiary issues for plain error, found none, and affirmed; that court also denied Winkler’s post-conviction petition, stating that counsel's failure to prepare an adequate appellate record does not, alone, amount to ineffective assistance. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the denial of his habeas petition, rejecting his argument that under Supreme Court precedent (Entsminger (1967)), failure to file a portion of the record entitled him to presumed prejudice in the ineffective-assistance analysis. View "Winkler v. Parris" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit treated respondent's petition for rehearing en banc as a petition for panel rehearing and granted it, withdrawing the court's prior opinion and substituting the following. The court affirmed the district court's denial of petitioner's federal application for post-conviction relief and denial of further investigative funding. The court held that no Supreme Court precedent holds that Miranda violations are not subject to harmless-error analysis, and the Court of Criminal Appeals' (CCA) decision to apply harmless-error analysis did not conflict with clearly established federal law. Furthermore, the CCA did not unreasonably apply Chapman v. California. Finally, the district court did not improperly deny petitioner investigative funding under 18 U.S.C. 3599(f) where the district court viewed the request for additional funding as effectively seeking a full retrial of the issues already litigated in the state court. View "Jones v. Davis" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. 2254 on petitioner's claims relating to his first degree murder conviction and death sentence. The panel held that Rule 32.2(a) of the Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure is independent of federal law and adequate to warrant preclusion of federal review. Therefore, the panel may not review petitioner's judicial bias claim unless he establishes cause and prejudice. In this case, petitioner failed to demonstrate cause to overcome the procedural default of his claim and the panel need not address prejudice. The panel also affirmed the district court's denial of petitioner's ineffective assistance of counsel claim, because trial counsel did not perform deficiently by not moving for a judge's recusal and appellate counsel's failure to raise issues on direct appeal did not constitute ineffective assistance when appeal would not have provided grounds for reversal. Furthermore, petitioner did not establish cause and prejudice to overcome the procedural default of his Brady claim; the panel lacked jurisdiction to review the denial of petitioner's Rule 60(b) motion; challenges to the jury instructions denied; and remaining claims of ineffective assistance of counsel and sentencing claims rejected. View "Martinez v. Ryan" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed Defendant's convictions for burglary, stealing drugs, and violation of a condition of release, holding that the trial court did not err when it denied Defendant's motion to suppress al evidence obtained as a result of the State's acquisition of Defendant's cell phone's location information (CSLI). Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) because Defendant lacked standing to challenge evidence obtained as a result of the acquisition of a coperpetrator's CLSI, which was the same evidence Defendant sought to exclude based on the acquisition of his own CSLI, this Court need not decide whether the acquisition of Defendant's CSLI was a search under the Fourth Amendment; (2) whether the State violated Defendant's rights under Maine's Electronic Device Location information Act, 16 Me. Rev. Stat. 647 to 650-B, was irrelevant to whether the court erred in denying Defendant's motion to suppress; and (3) the entry into and search of Defendant's residence were lawful. View "State v. O'Donnell" on Justia Law

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The issue presented for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's review centered on whether a police officer’s initial observations of a defendant at the scene of a crime, followed by a warrantless search of a cellular telephone left at the scene, which lead to the discovery of defendant’s identity, tainted the officer’s subsequent in-court identification of the defendant. Appellant Angel Santiago was pulled over by police for having a heavily tinted windshield in violation of the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Code. Appellant seemed nervous and avoided eye contact with the officer, who asked for Appellant’s license, registration, and insurance information. Appellant replied that he had no license. When the officer directed Appellant to turn off the vehicle, Appellant did not comply, and began to reach into the center console. The officer immediately reached through the window and grabbed Appellant’s arm to prevent him from retrieving anything from the console. Appellant accelerated the car with half of the officer’s body still inside it. The officer repeatedly requested Appellant to pull over as Appellant sped away. The officer released his grip on the driver, causing the officer to be thrown away from the vehicle and onto the road, and Appellant’s vehicle ran over the officer's right foot. The officer later required medical treatment for his injuries. At no time during the encounter did the officer learn the driver’s name or identity. Police would later retrieve a cell ground from the location of the original traffic stop, where they were able to open it (without warrant) to try to determine the phone's owner. Only two contacts were in the phone: Appellant's and "My Babe." An NCIC database search of Appellant's name lead to a picture of Appellant from a recent prison release. This photograph was shown to the injured officer from the traffic stop, who affirmatively identified the individual whom he pulled over. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court concluded the identification made as a result of a warrantless search of the contents of a cell phone rendered such identification tainted and inadmissible. However, a pre-search identification of a defendant could be admissible, if independent of the taint. The officer's out-of-court identification was suppressible. View "Pennsylvania v. Santiago" on Justia Law

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The issue presented for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's review in this case came from a Superior Court judgment that affirmed the trial court’s order denying a motion to suppress images of child pornography discovered by a computer repair shop employee after Appellant Jon Shaffer took his laptop to the commercial establishment for repair and consented to the replacement of the laptop’s hard drive. The Superior Court held that the trial court did not err in denying suppression because Appellant abandoned his reasonable expectation of privacy in the computer files under the facts presented. The Supreme Court held that because the contraband images were discovered by a computer technician who was not acting as an agent of the government and because the police officer’s subsequent viewing of the contraband images did not exceed the scope of the computer technician’s search, the private search doctrine applies and Appellant’s constitutional privacy protections are not implicated. View "Pennsylvania v. Shaffer" on Justia Law