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The police spotted defendant Leo Pinkston in a car that matched the general description of a vehicle used in a shooting. The officers “activated their lights and sirens.” Defendant allegedly “disregarded” the lights and sirens and drove off. Ultimately, defendant struck another car, and both vehicles collided with a light pole and caught on fire. Defendant was charged with second-degree eluding and second-degree aggravated assault while eluding. Pretrial Services recommended against defendant’s release, and the State moved to detain defendant. Defense counsel asked for an adjournment to obtain additional discovery and subpoena police officers to testify at the hearing. The trial court denied defendant’s request. After considering the complaint, affidavit of probable cause, Public Safety Assessment, Preliminary Law Enforcement Incident Report, and the arguments of counsel, the court concluded that: (1) probable cause existed; and (2) clear and convincing evidence established that defendant should be detained. The Appellate Division affirmed the finding of probable cause and order of detention. Shortly before this appeal to the New Jersey Supreme Court was argued, defendant pled guilty, and the State moved to dismiss as moot. The Supreme Court determined hat defendants have a qualified right to call adverse witnesses at detention hearings. However, Pinkston pled guilty; the Supreme Court did not review the trial court's decision to detain him pretrial. This appeal was dismissed as moot. View "New Jersey v. Pinkston" on Justia Law

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The police spotted defendant Leo Pinkston in a car that matched the general description of a vehicle used in a shooting. The officers “activated their lights and sirens.” Defendant allegedly “disregarded” the lights and sirens and drove off. Ultimately, defendant struck another car, and both vehicles collided with a light pole and caught on fire. Defendant was charged with second-degree eluding and second-degree aggravated assault while eluding. Pretrial Services recommended against defendant’s release, and the State moved to detain defendant. Defense counsel asked for an adjournment to obtain additional discovery and subpoena police officers to testify at the hearing. The trial court denied defendant’s request. After considering the complaint, affidavit of probable cause, Public Safety Assessment, Preliminary Law Enforcement Incident Report, and the arguments of counsel, the court concluded that: (1) probable cause existed; and (2) clear and convincing evidence established that defendant should be detained. The Appellate Division affirmed the finding of probable cause and order of detention. Shortly before this appeal to the New Jersey Supreme Court was argued, defendant pled guilty, and the State moved to dismiss as moot. The Supreme Court determined hat defendants have a qualified right to call adverse witnesses at detention hearings. However, Pinkston pled guilty; the Supreme Court did not review the trial court's decision to detain him pretrial. This appeal was dismissed as moot. View "New Jersey v. Pinkston" on Justia Law

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Weaver was arrested for the murder of Sanders. The court disqualified Weaver’s attorney because he represented a potential state witness. Callico testified that he and Sanders sold drugs together and that on April 4, 2002, Weaver fired the fatal shots into Sanders’s car. Over Weaver's objection, Officer Pinal testified that on September 9, 2002, Pinal and another officer saw Weaver place a gun in his waistband and approached Weaver, identifying themselves as police. Weaver drew the gun and fled, eventually tossing the gun. A firearms expert testified that shots fired from the pistol Pinal recovered matched casings and bullets recovered from the Sanders scene. Callico admitted that he had an extensive criminal background and had initially stated that he did not know the shooter. Pinal acknowledged that he never had the gun or magazine tested for fingerprints and that, during the chase, he lost sight of Weaver for 30 seconds. Weaver’s counsel emphasized the time gap between Sanders’s murder and the recovery of the pistol and that Callico’s unreliable testimony was the only direct evidence. Weaver was convicted of first-degree murder. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the denial of his petition for habeas relief, rejecting arguments that the trial court denied him the right to his counsel of choice; his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to call several witnesses and properly cross‐examine Callico; the state violated his due process rights by using Callico’s coerced and perjured testimony; and the trial court violated his due process rights by admitting evidence of other crimes related to the September 2002 incident. View "Weaver v. Nicholson" on Justia Law

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Defendant Nicholas John Smit filed a petition to reduce his felony possession of marijuana for sale conviction to a misdemeanor. The superior court found defendant ineligible for relief because he was convicted of four counts of attempted murder in this matter, in addition to the drug conviction. The Court of Appeal concluded a concurrent conviction for attempted murder in the same case in which the defendant was charged and convicted of possessing marijuana for sale does not render the defendant ineligible for resentencing on the marijuana count. The Court, therefore, reversed the superior court’s order and remanded for further proceedings. View "California v. Smit" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court rejected the arguments of Plaintiffs, two public school teachers, who sought a judgment declaring the 2014 amendments to the Teacher Due Process Act, Kan. Stat. Ann. 72-5436 et seq., unconstitutional because the legislation constituted a taking of their property without due process. Before July 1, 2014, the contracts of tenured elementary and secondary teachers in Kansas school districts automatically continued into the next school year unless the school district gave a notice of termination or nonrenewal that set out the reasons for the termination or nonrenewal and notified the teacher of his rights to a due process hearing. The 2014 amendments removed both the requirement that the school district’s Board of Education state its reasons for the termination or nonrenewal and the right to a due process hearing. When Plaintiffs were informed that the Board would not be renewing their teaching contracts, they brought this action. The Supreme Court held that Plaintiffs did not have a property interest that was entitled to constitutional protection under either the federal or state constitution. View "Scribner v. Board of Education of U.S.D. No. 492" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions for capital murder and aggravated kidnapping but, as to Defendant’s death sentence, the Court remanded the limited question on intellectual disability to the district court for further proceedings. On appeal, Defendant argued (1) numerous errors occurred during his trial’s guilt phase; and (2) evidence from his 2009 penalty-phase proceedings demonstrated that he was intellectually disabled and that the district court erred when it found insufficient reason to believe that Defendant was intellectually disabled. The Supreme Court remanded the case, holding (1) no reversible error occurred during the trial’s guilt phase; but (2) as to Defendant’s death sentence, new rules for conducting criminal prosecutions have been enacted since Defendant’s trial, and therefore, the best interests of justice require reversing the district court’s reason-to-believe determination and remanding for reconsideration based on current constitutional parameters. View "State v. Thurber" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of plaintiff's motion for garnishment against the GDAS. The court held that garnishment actions are "suits" under the Eleventh Amendment, Georgia has not waived its immunity to the type of garnishment plaintiff seeks, and Congress has not clearly abrogated the states' immunity to such garnishments. View "Cassady v. Hall" on Justia Law

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Jones, a Calumet City alderman, wants to be mayor. His supporter, Grant, tried to prevent the incumbent, Qualkinbush, from running for reelection in 2017 by circulating a referendum to set a three-term limit on the mayor. Grant gathered enough signatures but the city proposed three referenda for that election, which were certified before Grant’s. Illinois law limits to three the number of referenda on any ballot. One of the city’s proposals passed: it prevents the election as mayor of anyone who has served four or more consecutive terms as either mayor or alderman, barring Jones. Jones was removed from the ballot. Qualkinbush was reelected. Jones lost a state suit. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the rejection of Jones’s challenges. The Rule of Three allows a city observing a signature-gathering campaign in progress to get its own proposals on the ballot first but a ballot is not a public forum. Nothing in the Constitution guarantees direct democracy. The Rule does not distinguish by content and is rationally related to a legitimate state objective in simplifying the ballot to promote a well-considered outcome. Rejecting Jones’s claim that this referendum was aimed at him and treated him as a prohibited class of one, the court noted that three aldermen were affected and the referendum prevents Qualkinbush from running for reelection in 2021. “Politics is a rough-and-tumble game,” and the right response is political. View "Jones v. Qualkinbush" on Justia Law

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David Thomas admitted in oral and written statements to police that he and Jontez Garvis had attacked Fred Jackson and stole cash from him. After being hospitalized for forty-one days due to the injuries inflicted by the two men, Jackson died. Thomas was indicted for and convicted of capital murder. The trial court sentenced Thomas to life in prison without parole. After review, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed Thomas’s conviction and sentence. View "Thomas v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

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Rickey Portis was convicted of two counts of sexual battery based on allegations that he repeatedly abused his then eight- and nine-year-old stepdaughters. The trial court sentenced him to two life sentences, to run consecutively. Portis appealed, arguing that the trial court erred by: (1) refusing to grant a continuance; and (2) in failing to allow him to introduce a prior inconsistent statement of a prosecution witness. Furthermore, Portis argued: (3) the verdict was not supported by sufficient evidence; (4) the verdict was against the overwhelming weight of the evidence;(5) cumulative error required reversal; and (6) Portis’s sentences were disproportionate to the crime. Finding no such errors, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed Portis' convictions. View "Portis v. Mississippi" on Justia Law