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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of petitioner's 28 U.S.C. 2254 petition for habeas corpus relief, holding that the Mississippi Supreme Court's decision was not contrary to or an unreasonable application of clearly established law. The court held that Grim v. Fisher, 816 F.3d 296 (5th Cir. 2016), barred petitioner from habeas relief. Grim applied Bullcoming v. New Mexico, 564 U.S. 647 (2011), to a case in which a crime laboratory supervisor -- rather than an analyst, as in the case here -- testified at trial, and held that such testimony did not violate clearly established law. View "Jenkins v. Hall" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of petitioner's ineffective assistance of counsel claim. The court held that the magistrate judge should have held an evidentiary hearing to investigate petitioner's allegations of an actual conflict of interest, and failure to do so was an abuse of discretion under established precedents. In this case, petitioner presented evidence that his counsel advised one of his co-defendants to plead guilty, prior to his own plea agreement, and that his counsel did so in a manner that prejudiced petitioner's defense. View "United States v. Harrison" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against CNN for publishing a series of allegedly defamatory news reports about him and the medical center he administered. The district court denied CNN's motion to strike the complaint under the Georgia anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) statute. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed in part, holding that the motion-to-strike procedure of the Georgia anti-SLAPP statute, O.C.G.A. 9-11-11.1, does not apply in federal court. The court dismissed in part, holding that it lacked pendent appellate jurisdiction to review the denial of the motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. View "Carbone v. Cable News Network, Inc." on Justia Law

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After federal agencies issued two interim final rules (IFRs) exempting employers with religious and moral objections from the Affordable Care Act requirement that group health plans cover contraceptive care without cost sharing, states filed suit to enjoin the enforcement of the IFRs. The Ninth Circuit affirmed that venue was proper in the Northern District of California; affirmed that plaintiff states have standing to sue based on procedural injury where the states have shown with reasonable probability that the IFRs will first lead to women losing employer-sponsored contraceptive coverage, which will then result in economic harm to the states; affirmed the preliminary injunction insofar as it barred enforcement of the IFRs in the plaintiff states; but vacated the portion of the injunction barring enforcement in other states because the scope of the injunction was overbroad. View "California v. Azar" on Justia Law

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Logan was a drug courier in a cross-country drug ring from 2004-2007. In total, Logan transported over 150 kilograms of cocaine from California to Michigan. Logan received conflicting advice while considering whether to accept a plea offer with a 10-year sentencing cap. His counsel of record told him it was a very good deal that avoided the high risks of proceeding to trial. Logan signed the plea agreement. His second attorney (retained by Logan’s family but not counsel of record) subsequently persuaded Logan to withdraw from the plea agreement. Ultimately, Logan accepted another plea agreement that did not include a sentencing cap and received a much longer sentence than contemplated by the first agreement. Logan claimed ineffective assistance of counsel. The district court and Sixth Circuit rejected his argument. Counsel of record advised Logan about the risks of going to trial; Logan testified that he signed the plea agreement because he was guilty and was worried about facing a sentence of 30 years or more. He was aware of the risks of trial. Whether to accept the plea offer was ultimately Logan’s decision and that the fear of a higher sentence after trial was a valid concern. Logan received all the information needed to make an informed decision. View "Logan v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Defendant’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus as procedurally barred, holding that the district court did not err by finding that Defendant failed to overcome the procedural bars. Plaintiff, who was convicted of first-degree murder, filed the instant postconviction petition for a writ of habeas corpus more than twenty years after the remittitur was issued from his direct appeal. Plaintiff argued that he was entitled to the retroactive benefit of the narrowed definition of “willful, deliberate and premeditated” murder announced in Byford v. State, 994 P.2d 700 (Nev. 2000) and thus was entitled to a new trial. The district court dismissed the petition as procedurally time-barred, concluding that Defendant failed to demonstrate good cause or a fundamental miscarriage of justice to overcome the procedural bars. See Nev. Rev. Stat. 34.726(1) and Nev. Rev. Stat. 34.810(1)(b),(2). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the United States Supreme Court decisions in Welch v. United States, 578 U.S. __ (2016), and Montgomery v. Louisiana, 577 U.S. __ (2016), do not constitute good cause to raise a procedurally barred claim arguing that a nonconstitutional rule should be applied retroactively. View "Branham v. Baca" on Justia Law

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This case arose from the tragic death of an innocent eight-year-old child as a result of a violent confrontation between two groups of men. A jury convicted defendant David Candelaria of first-degree depraved mind murder, two counts of shooting at or from a motor vehicle, and three counts of aggravated assault. One count of shooting at or from a motor vehicle was later vacated on double jeopardy grounds. The district court sentenced Defendant to life in prison plus nine years. Defendant appealed his convictions for depraved mind murder and aggravated assault, asking the New Mexico Supreme Court to vacated the convictions or order a new trial. Finding no reason to overturn the trial court's judgment, the Supreme Court affirmed defendant's convictions. View "New Mexico v. Candelaria" on Justia Law

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In Moses v. Skanders (Moses II), the New Mexico Supreme Court considered whether using public funds to lend textbooks to private school students violated Article XII, Section 3. In Moses II, the Court held the plain meaning and history of Article XII, Section 3 forbade such lending. The U.S. Supreme Court subsequently vacated the New Mexico Court's judgment and remanded the case for further consideration in light of Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer, 137 S.Ct. 2012 (2017). On remand, the New Mexico Court concluded its previous interpretation of Article XII, Section 3 raised concerns under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. To avoid constitutional concerns, the Court held that the textbook loan program, did not result in use of public funds in support of private schools as prohibited by Article XII, Section 3. The Court also held the textbook loan program was consistent with Article IV, Section 31 of the New Mexico Constitution, which addressed appropriations for educational purposes, and Article IX, Section 14 of the New Mexico Constitution. View "Moses v. Ruszkowski" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court denying Appellant a resentencing hearing and imposing a sentence of life with parole eligibility pursuant to the Fair Sentencing of Minors Act of 2017 (the Act), holding that Appellant was entitled to resentencing in accordance with the Court’s decision in Harris v. State, 547 S.W.3d 64. In 1983, Appellant pled guilty to capital murder. Appellant was seventeen years old at the time of the murder and received a mandatory sentence of life without parole. Following the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Miller v. Alabama, 467 U.S. 460, 479 (2012), Appellant filed a petition for habeas corpus arguing that his sentence was unconstitutional. The circuit court granted the petition, vacated the sentence, and remanded Appellant’s case for resentencing. Although Appellant’s sentence had been vacated before the Act was enacted, the circuit court relied on the Act’s provision in resentencing him to life imprisonment with the possibility of parole after thirty years. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) based on this Court’s decision in Harris, the circuit court erred in applying the Act to Appellant’s case; and (2) Appellant was entitled to a hearing to present Miller evidence for consideration upon resentencing. View "Robinson v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s denial of Appellant’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus, holding that Appellant’s arguments lacked merit. Appellant was convicted of first-degree murder and aggravated robbery and sentenced to life imprisonment for each conviction. In his petition for writ of habeas corpus, Appellant argued that Graham v. Florida, 560 U.S. 48 (2010), rendered his life sentence for aggravated robbery unconstitutional because he was a minor at the time of the offense and that Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S.460 (2010, and Montgomery v. Louisiana, 136 S. Ct. 718 (2016) precluded his sentence even for his homicide offense. The circuit court denied the petition. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Appellant’s Miller-based argument was without merit; and (2) Graham had no application to Appellant’s case. View "Early v. Kelley" on Justia Law