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The juvenile court found minor E.P. committed second degree burglary from the Anaheim ICE public ice hockey facility in 2015. E.P. was also charged with possession of graffiti tools (court 2), receiving stolen property (counts 4-6), and illegal possession of an alcoholic beverage (count 7). E.P. contended his burglary finding (count 1) should have been reversed because the evidence showed he committed the new crime defined by the Legislature as shoplifting, but not burglary. Furthermore, he argued reversal of counts 4-6 because he could not be convicted of both shoplifting and receiving the same property. To E.P.'s argument on counts 4-6, the Court of Appeal agreed and therefore reverse the findings on these counts; the Court affirmed count 2. View "In re E.P." on Justia Law

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The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of the City's motion to dismiss an action filed by Rockville Cars, alleging a violation of its procedural due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment when the City suspended its building permit. The court held that a property right failed to vest in Rockville Cars' building permit when its application contained material misrepresentations. Furthermore, even if Rockville Cars did have a property interest, it failed to take advantage of the sufficient process afforded to it by the state. View "Rockville Cars, LLC v. City of Rockville" on Justia Law

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Petitioner Albert Ruedas was charged with various gang-related crimes and enhancements, including the special circumstances allegation he committed murder to further the activities of a criminal street gang. To prove the gang charges, the prosecution called an expert witness who based his opinions on a variety of extrajudicial sources, including testimonial hearsay. When defense counsel objected to the expert’s reliance on this evidence, the trial court overruled the objection and instructed the jury not to consider the evidence for its substantive truth, but only as a basis for the expert’s opinions. Ultimately, the jury convicted petitioner as charged, and the trial court sentenced him to life in prison without parole. The conviction became final in 2015. The following year, the California Supreme Court decided California v. Sanchez, 63 Cal.4th 665 (2016) case. Sanchez held that to properly evaluate an expert witness’ opinions, the jury generally must consider the evidence he relies on for the truth of the matter asserted therein, and therefore that evidence is subject to exclusion under the hearsay rule and the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Here, petitioner asked the Court of Appeal to apply Sanchez retroactively to his case and find the gang expert’s reliance on testimonial hearsay violated his confrontation rights. The Court determined Sanchez did not apply retroactively to cases like petitioner’s that were already final by the time Sanchez was decided. Therefore, petitioner could not avail himself of that decision, and his petition for a writ of habeas corpus was denied. View "In re Ruedas" on Justia Law

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Israel Soto appealed an order denying his petition to reduce his felony conviction for theft from an elder to a misdemeanor. He sought relief under section 1170.18, the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act, which was enacted by California voters in November 2014 pursuant to Proposition 47. The trial court denied Soto's petition on the basis that his conviction was categorically ineligible for relief. Appointed appellate counsel filed a brief pursuant to Anders v. California, 386 U.S. 738 (1967) and California v. Wende, 25 Cal.3d 436 (1979), and Soto filed a supplemental brief on his own behalf. The Court of Appeal asked for supplemental briefing on whether Soto's conviction under section 368(d) was eligible for reclassification under Proposition 47 following California v. Page, 3 Cal.5th 1175 (2017). Having reviewed the submissions, the Court concluded Soto was ineligible for relief and affirmed. View "California v. Soto" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court convicting Defendant of criminal possession of methamphetamine and other drug offenses after law enforcement found drugs and paraphernalia in Defendant’s pickup truck during a traffic stop, holding that the district court committed reversible error when it curtailed Defendant’s cross-examination of Leslie Hill, the lone passenger in the vehicle at the time of the traffic stop. Specifically, the Court held that the district court abused its discretion when it excluded evidence of Hill’s plea agreement with the State and prevented Defendant from fully cross-examining Hill about her plea agreement, and the error prejudiced Defendant and required a new trial. View "State v. Flowers" on Justia Law

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The California Table Grape Commission’s advertisements and related messaging represent government speech, as opposed to private speech, and the Ketchum Act’s (Cal. Food & Agric. Code 65500) scheme providing that the Commission’s activities are funded by assessments on shipments of California table grapes does not violate Plaintiffs’ rights under Cal. Const. art. I, 2. Plaintiffs, five growers and shippers of California table grapes, brought suit arguing that the collection of assessments under the Act to subsidize promotional speech on behalf of California table grapes as a generic category violates their right to free speech under Cal. Const. art. I, 2(a). Plaintiffs claimed specifically that the table grapes they grow and ship are exceptional and that the assessment scheme requires them to sponsor a viewpoint that they disagree with. The Supreme Court held that Plaintiffs failed to advance a viable claim under article I, section 2. Specifically, the Court held that there was sufficient government responsibility for and control over the messaging at issue for the communications to represent government speech that Plaintiffs can be required to subsidize without implicating their article I, section 2 rights. View "Delano Farms Co. v. California Table Grape Commission" on Justia Law

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In this appeal, the issue presented for the New Jersey Supreme Court's consideration was whether the Open Public Records Act (OPRA) required disclosure of the names and addresses of successful bidders at a public auction of government property. An auction was held at the Bergen County Law and Public Safety Institute to sell sports memorabilia seized by the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office. There were thirty-nine successful bidders. Plaintiff William Brennan submitted a request to the Prosecutor’s Office, based on OPRA and the common law, for “[r]ecords of payment received from all winning bidders” and “[c]ontact information for each winning bidder.” The Prosecutor’s Office offered redacted copies of receipts that did not include the buyers’ names or addresses. The Office explained that it had sent the buyers letters to ask if they would consent to disclosure of their personal information. For buyers who consented, the Office represented it would provide unredacted receipts. The trial court directed defendants to release the requested information under OPRA. The Supreme Court determined courts were not required to analyze the "Doe" factors each time a party asserts that a privacy interest exists. "A party must first present a colorable claim that public access to records would invade a person’s reasonable expectation of privacy." Here, defendants could not make that threshold showing. "It is not reasonable to expect that details about a public auction of government property -- including the names and addresses of people who bought the seized property -- will remain private. Without a review of the Doe factors, we find that OPRA calls for disclosure of records relating to the auction." The Court reversed the judgment of the Appellate Division. View "Brennan v. Bergen County Prosecutor's Office" on Justia Law

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During the 2012 mayoral election in the City of Salem, New Jersey, defendant Isaac Young was the executive director of the city’s housing authority. Defendant’s friend and political ally, the incumbent-mayor Robert Davis, was defeated by then-councilman Charles Washington, who was eventually elected mayor. Defendant came into possession of documents sent by the Division of Youth and Family Services to the City’s police chief. The documents advised the chief that the Division had substantiated allegations of child abuse against Washington. The allegations were later deemed to be unsubstantiated. Defendant showed the documents to others in his office and gave copies to a police officer, Sergeant Leon Daniels, so that Daniels could distribute the documents to others for political purposes. Defendant was ultimately charged with permitting or encouraging the release of a confidential child abuse record, a fourth-degree offense; hindering his own apprehension or prosecution by giving a false statement to law enforcement; and fourth-degree false swearing by inconsistent statements. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss the charge relating to the unlawful release of the confidential documents, arguing that N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.10b did not apply to his conduct. The court denied that motion. After a mistrial and retrial, defendant was convicted of the three offenses. An Appellate Division panel affirmed defendant’s convictions for hindering and false swearing. Finding no reversible error in the appellate court's judgment, the New Jersey Supreme Court affirmed. View "New Jersey v. Young" on Justia Law

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Early in the morning of November 12, 2009, police officers from the Albuquerque, New Mexico, Police Department were dispatched to an apartment complex to investigate a 911 domestic violence call. Upon their arrival, they saw Walter Deiter and his wife, D’Leah Harris, in the middle of the street. When Deiter and Harris saw the officers, they separated, each walking in the opposite direction. Deiter proceeded toward the apartment complex; Officer Patricia Whelan followed him. Deiter went behind a staircase; Whelan temporarily lost sight of him. Deiter emerged a few minutes later on the second-story open breezeway. Whelan told Deiter to come down and talk to her. But before doing so, he made a “squatting, bending motion” which led Whelan to believe he had “dropped” something illegal. She could not see what was dropped because a three- to four-foot tall wall obstructed her view, but once Deiter came down the stairs, Whelan asked Officer Sammy Marquez to determine what had been dropped. As Marquez proceeded up the steps to the second-story breezeway, Deiter took off running. Deiter was eventually brought down with a taser; once he was secured, officers found a holster containing a loaded .22 caliber revolver. Forensic testing revealed Deiter’s DNA on both the holster and firearm. The firearm also contained a small amount of DNA from an unidentified source. A jury convicted Deiter of being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition. Deiter filed a 28 U.S.C. 2255 motion, claiming a prior bank robbery conviction could not be deemed a “violent felony” supporting the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA) enhancement to the sentence he ultimately received. He also argued trial counsel was ineffective for (1) failing to challenge his ACCA sentence and (2) reading a transcript of Whelan’s belt tape recorder to the jury which contained an incriminating statement from a witness. After review of the briefs submitted for review, the Tenth Circuit found no reversible error to Deiter's sentence, nor ineffective assistance of counsel. View "United States v. Deiter" on Justia Law

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The Illinois Vehicle Code prohibits anyone with a revoked driver’s license from driving a “motor vehicle.” 625 ILCS 5/6-303(a); such an individual may still drive a “low-speed gas bicycle.” Section 1-14-.15 defines “low-speed gas bicycle” as a “2 or 3-wheeled device with fully operable pedals and a gasoline motor of less than one horsepower, whose maximum speed on a paved level surface, when powered solely by such a motor while ridden by an operator who weighs 170 pounds, is less than 20 miles per hour.” Plank, charged with driving a motor vehicle with a revoked license, claimed that the definition of “low-speed gas bicycle” was unconstitutionally vague. The Illinois Supreme Court held that the definition of “low-speed gas bicycle” satisfies due process requirements. The statutory language means that a defining characteristic of a low-speed gas bicycle is an engine that is incapable of transporting 170 pounds at 20 miles per hour without help from gravity or pedaling. A bicycle’s motor will either have this capability or not, regardless of the weight of any particular driver. The vagueness doctrine is not implicated every time officers cannot conclusively determine at a glance whether someone has violated a statutory provision. Once someone is charged with violating section 6-303(a), the prosecutor has the burden of proving the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt—including that the bicycle at issue had a strong enough motor to qualify as a “motor vehicle.” View "People v. Plank" on Justia Law