by
Shannon Parker appealed his aggravated-assault conviction and enhanced sentence. Eric and Edna Burkett were standing outside their home in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, when a white pickup truck stopped in front of them. The driver got out, and the Burketts asked if he needed help. The man mumbled something, grabbed a rifle, and shot Eric, wounding him. The man also fired shots at Edna but missed. Soon after, the police found the white truck in a nearby ditch, tires still spinning. The driver, later identified as Parker, was arrested and later confirmed by the Burketts as the man who attacked them. Parker appeared to be under the influence. At the interviewing officer’s recommendation, Parker underwent a mental evaluation. The evaluation was performed by a licensed professional counselor. Parker told the counselor that he had previously been treated for anxiety and depression. The counselor concluded that Parker “was verbal and responsive” and that “[h]is thought processes were rational.” Although indicted on two counts of assault, the State elected to proceed only on the aggravated assault against Eric, with a five-year sentencing enhancement for using a firearm. A week before the scheduled trial, Parker planned to plead guilty. But at the hearing, Parker claimed he had no recollection of the crime, and that he could not verify the State’s recitation of the facts. Under the circumstances, the trial judge determined he could not accept Parker’s plea. Parker presented three issues on appeal: (1) the trial judge erred in allowing the State’s firearm expert to testify; (2) the trial judge abused his discretion in denying Parker’s motion for a mental evaluation; and (3) the firearm enhancement violated the constitutional prohibition against double jeopardy. While the appellate court unanimously agreed the first and third issues presented no reversible error, the court was equally divided on the second issue. Based on this split, the Mississippi Supreme Court granted Parker’s petition for certiorari review. Although Parker reasserted all three appellate issues in his petition, the Court limited its review to the issue of Parker’s request for a mental evaluation. The Court found that although given the opportunity to do so, Parker presented no concrete reason establishing the need for a mental evaluation to assist in the pursuit of a viable insanity defense. Instead, Parker offered only unsupported assertions of diminished capacity (a defense not recognized by Mississippi law). The Court thus affirmed. View "Parker v. Mississippi" on Justia Law

by
In this criminal case, the Supreme Court held that, when a defendant posts bail, the trial court has authority to impose reasonable conditions related to public safety but that the question had become moot as to the Defendant in the instant case. Defendant was arrested and charged with two felony counts. Defendant posted bail and was released from custody. At arraignment, the court imposed as an additional condition of release that Defendant waive her Fourth Amendment right to be free of warrantless or unreasonable searches. The District Attorney petitioned for review, asking whether trial courts possess inherent authority to impose reasonable bail conditions related to public safety on felony defendants who are released on bail. The Supreme Court answered in the affirmative, holding (1) trial courts have authority to impose release conditions on persons who post bail; but (2) the question was moot as to Defendant, and therefore, this Court need not decide whether the specific condition was valid. View "In re Webb" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction of two counts of first degree murder and personal use of a deadly weapon and Defendant's sentence of death on both counts, holding that no prejudicial error occurred in the proceedings below. Specifically, the Court held (1) the trial court did not abuse its discretion by admitting evidence of other crimes; (2) the trial court did not violate Defendant's right to an impartial penalty phase jury under the federal and state Constitutions by excusing a prospective juror for cause because of her views on the death penalty; (3) penalty retrial following a hung jury was not unconstitutional; (4) the trial court did not err by denying Defendant's motion to declare the death penalty unconstitutional in practice; and (5) an instruction during the penalty phase was given in error, but the error was harmless. View "People v. Erskine" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed as modified the judgment of the trial court convicting Defendant and sentencing him to death for the murder of a peace officer, holding that modification of the judgment was required to reduce the restitution and parole revocation fines. Specifically, the Court held (1) the evidence was sufficient to support the jury's finding that Defendant committed a premeditated and deliberate murder; (2) any error in the jury instructions was harmless beyond. Reasonable doubt; (3) the evidence was sufficient to sustain the gang-related enhancement; (4) the trial court did not abuse its discretion in its in camera review process of sealed transcripts; (5) the trial court erred in admitting uncharged misconduct to support the prosecution's argument that Defendant premeditated the murder, but the error was harmless; (6) the guilt phase errors did not cumulatively amount to prejudice requiring reversal of Defendant's conviction; (7) any error in the penalty proceedings was harmless; and (8) the trial court erred by imposing two fines in excess of the statutory maximum - the restitution fine and the parole revocation fine. View "People v. Rivera" on Justia Law

by
While defendant Yevgeniy Savinskiy was incarcerated and awaiting trial on pending criminal charges, law enforcement officers learned he solicited another inmate to harm the prosecutor and murder two of the anticipated witnesses for the prosecution. Without notifying the lawyer who was representing defendant on the pending charges, the officers arranged for the other inmate to secretly record defendant in a conversation about his new criminal activity, and the State later charged defendant with multiple new offenses arising out of that new criminal activity. The Court of Appeals held that the recorded questioning violated defendant’s Article I, section 11, right to counsel “[i] n all criminal prosecutions,” and precluded the State from using defendant’s incriminating statements to convict him of the new offenses. The Oregon Supreme Court disagreed: defendant’s Article I, section 11, right to counsel, which arose because of the initially pending charges, was not a right to limited police scrutiny of new criminal activity in which defendant was engaging to illegally undermine the pending charges. View "Oregon v. Savinskiy" on Justia Law

by
The Oregon Supreme Court declined to answer certified questions posed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. In consolidated cases, the Ninth Circuit certified three questions concerning how predicate Oregon convictions for first- and second-degree robbery should be treated for certain issues that arise under federal sentencing law. When the United States Supreme Court decided Stokeling v. United States, 586 US ___, 139 S Ct 544, 202 L Ed 3d 512 (2019), "it appears to have significantly altered the legal landscape about how predicate robbery offenses are treated for purposes of federal sentencing." The Ninth Circuit maintained that its precedent remained good law after Stokeling and that a question remained as to whether Oregon’s second-degree robbery statute was “divisible” and whether jury concurrence on particular elements of that statute was required. For several reasons, the Oregon Court concluded the questions that remained were not subject to review on certification. View "United States v. Lawrence/Ankeny" on Justia Law

by
Chicago Ordinance 2012-4489 provides that “[n]o operator of a mobile food vehicle shall park or stand such vehicle within 200 feet of any principal customer entrance to a restaurant which is located on the street level.” Under a “mobile food vehicle stands program,” Chicago reserves designated areas on the public way where a certain number of food trucks are permitted to operate regardless of the 200-foot rule. Owners must install on their food trucks a permanent GPS device “which sends real-time data to any service that has a publicly-accessible application programming interface.” Plaintiffs alleged the 200-foot rule violated the Illinois Constitution's equal protection and due process clauses and that the GPS requirement constitutes a continuous, unreasonable, warrantless search of food trucks. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed the circuit and appellate courts in rejecting those arguments. Chicago has a legitimate governmental interest in encouraging the long-term stability and economic growth of its neighborhoods. The 200-foot rule, which helps promote brick-and-mortar restaurants is rationally related to the city's legitimate interest in stable neighborhoods. The GPS system is the best and most accurate means of locating a food truck, which is particularly important in case of a serious health issue. The GPS device does not transmit the truck’s location data directly to the city; Chicago has never requested location data from any food truck’s service provider. Food trucks generally post their location on social media to attract customers, so any expectation of privacy they might have in their location is greatly diminished. View "LMP Services, Inc. v. City of Chicago" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction of simple assault and kidnapping, holding that the trial court did not err in the proceedings below and that Defendant's sentence was not unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment. Specifically, the Court held (1) the circuit court did not err when it denied Defendant's motion for a mistrial for an alleged Brady violation; (2) the circuit court did not abuse its discretion when it denied Defendant's motion for a mistrial; (3) Defendant was not denied a fair trial due to cumulative errors; and (4) Defendant's sentence was not grossly disproportionate or excessive. View "State v. Delehoy" on Justia Law

by
The First Circuit denied Petitioner's petition for review of an administrative order of removal, holding that Petitioner's arguments challenges to the removal order were unavailing. Petitioner was an Irish citizen who entered the United States as a child and had been living here for more than seven years when he was apprehended by immigration officials. The government charged him with having been admitted to the United States via the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) and having stayed here beyond the ninety-day period permitted by the visa that he secured through the VWP. The government then issued a final order of removal. The First Circuit denied Petitioner's petition for review, holding (1) the government presented sufficient evidence of Petitioner's removability; and (2) Petitioner's procedural due process challenge to the removal order failed. View "O'Riordan v. Barr" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the intermediate court of appeals and vacated Defendant's conviction of promoting a dangerous drug in the third degree and unlawful use of drug paraphernalia, holding that Defendant's motion to suppress should have been granted because he was seized longer than was necessary for the police to conduct an investigation confirming the absence of a required tax decal. The pat-down of Defendant occurred after a police officer noticed Defendant riding a bicycle lacking a tax decal, which is required by law on all bicycles with wheels twenty inches or more in diameter. After the time necessary for the police to conduct the investigation confirming the officer's reasonable suspicion that the tax decal was missing and to issue a citation for the missing decal, a warrant check came back from dispatch indicating that Defendant had an outstanding warrant. Defendant was arrested based on the outstanding warrant, and a search incident to arrest revealed drugs and drug paraphernalia. The Supreme Court held (1) Defendant's arrest was illegal because the warrant check came back after the span of time necessary for the police to write and issue the citation; and (2) therefore, the evidence obtained as a result of the arrest was fruit of the poisonous tree. View "State v. Iona" on Justia Law