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United States v. Cancino-Trinidad, United States Court of Appeals, 5th Circuit, Docket No. 11-41344

After the defendant pleaded guilty to illegal reentry, he appealed, asserting that the imposition of a three-year term of supervised release ("SR") was procedurally and substantively unreasonable. However, even assuming the district court did not previously conduct the factual consideration described in U.S.S.G. 5D1.1, the appellate court found that the defendant's criminal record supported a finding that the imposition of SR would provide an added measure of deterrence and protection based on the facts and circumstances of the case. Because the defendant had raised a possibility of a different result, but not the requisite probability, the court concluded that the error did not affect his substantial rights. Further, the appellate court found that the district court did not err in imposing the length of the SR, which was within the applicable guideline range. Accordingly, the court affirmed the defendant's sentence.

 

Read Opinion here at ca5.uscourts.gov

 

Richards v. Thaler, United States Court of Appeals, 5th Circuit, Docket No. 11-20803

Petitioner appealed the district court's dismissal of his habeas corpus petition as time-barred because it was filed after the one-year deadline. Petitioner contended that the district court erred by deeming the date the clerk of the court stamped his state post-conviction petition as received to be the date he filed the petition. The court held that, under Texas law, petitioner's 28 U.S.C. 2254 application was deemed filed on the date petitioner turned the application over to prison authorities to be filed. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded and did not reach petitioner's claim that he was entitled to equitable tolling.

 

Read Opinion here at ca5.uscourts.gov

 

United States v. Wallstrum et al., United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit, Docket No. 11-11228

After the denial of motions to suppress evidence, defendants Wallstrum, Clark, and Bryant pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess cocaine with intent to distribute but appealled the denial of their respective motions to suppress. Despite expert testimony and other evidence offered by the defendants that the initial stop and subsequent detention was not valid, the appeallate court affirmed the district court's determination that the initial stop was lawful; reasonable suspicion justified the prolonged detention; and the district court did not clearly err in finding that Bryant's consent to search the car was voluntary.

 

Read Opinion here at ca5.uscourts.gov

 

United States v. Duque-Hernandez, United States Court of Appeals, 5th Circuit, Docket No. 11-40642

Defendant pleaded guilty to illegal reentry after deportation and was sentenced to 51 months of imprisonment. On appeal, defendant challenged the district court's application of a twelve-level adjustment to his base offense level for his previous commission of a drug trafficking offense. Because defendant did not object to the application of the adjustment, the court reviewed for plain error. Concluding that the sentencing error, if any, did not seriously affect the fairness, integrity, or public reputation of judicial proceedings, the court declined to exercise its discretion to correct it. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment.

 

Read Opinion here at ca5.uscourts.gov

 

Both the New Orleans Police Department and the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office will conduct sobriety checkpoints on Thursday night, according to separate news releases from the two agencies. While NOPD did not specify in which part of Orleans Parish the checkpoint would be located, JPSO said its checkpoint will be somewhere on the West Bank.

 

The Jefferson Parish checkpoint will be from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. The Orleans Parish one will be conducted from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., police said.

 

Authorities said motorists would experience minimal delays and be prepared with proof of insurance, driver's license and registration.

 

Johnson v. Williams, 568 U.S. _____ (2013)

A California jury convicted Williams of murder. On direct appeal she claimed that questioning and dismissal of a juror during deliberations violated the Sixth Amendment and California law. Holding that the juror had been properly dismissed for bias, the California Court of Appeal quoted a Supreme Court definition of "impartiality," but did not expressly acknowledge that it was deciding a Sixth Amendment issue. The state's highest court remanded in light of its intervening decision that a trial court abused its discretion by dismissing, for failure to deliberate, a juror who appeared to disagree with the rest of the jury. Reaffirming its prior decision, the court of appeal discussed that decision and again failed to expressly acknowledge the federal claim. Williams sought federal habeas relief. The district court applied the deferential standard of review under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act for claims already "adjudicated on the merits in State court," 28 U. S. C. 2254(d). The Ninth Circuit concluded that the state court had not considered Williams' Sixth Amendment claim, reviewed that claim de novo, and found violation of the Sixth Amendment. The Supreme Court reversed. When a state court rules against a defendant in an opinion that rejects some of the defendant's claims but does not expressly address a federal claim, a federal habeas court must presume, subject to rebuttal, that the federal claim was adjudicated on the merits for purposes of AEDPA. Applying that rebuttable presumption, the Ninth Circuit erred. Several facts indicate that the state court did consider the Sixth Amendment claim.

 

Read Opinion here at supremecourt.gov

 

Evans v. Michigan, 568 U.S. _____ (2013)

After the State of Michigan rested its case at Evans' arson trial, the court granted a directed verdict of acquittal, concluding that the state had failed to prove that the burned building was not a dwelling, a fact the court mistakenly believed was an "element" of the statutory offense. The court of appeals reversed and remanded for retrial. In affirming, the state's highest court held that a directed verdict based on an error of law that did not resolve a factual element of the charged offense was not an acquittal for double jeopardy purposes. The Supreme Court reversed; the Double Jeopardy Clause bars retrial. An acquittal encompasses any ruling that the prosecution's proof is insufficient to establish criminal liability for an offense. Unlike procedural rulings, which lead to dismissals or mistrials on a basis unrelated to factual guilt or innocence, acquittals are substantive rulings that conclude proceedings absolutely, and raise significant double jeopardy concerns. The trial court clearly evaluated the state's evidence and determined that it was legally insufficient to sustain a conviction. The acquittal was the product of an erroneous interpretation of governing legal principles, but that error affects only the accuracy of the determination to acquit, not its essential character.

 

Read Opinion here at supremecourt.gov

 

Chaidez v. United States, 568 U.S. _____ (2013)

Immigration officials initiated removal proceedings against Chaidez in 2009 upon learning that she had pleaded guilty to mail fraud in 2004. To avoid removal, she sought to overturn that conviction by filing a petition for a writ of coram nobis, contending that her former attorney's failure to advise her of the guilty plea's immigration consequences constituted ineffective assistance of counsel. While her petition was pending, the Supreme Court held, in Padilla v. Kentucky, that the Sixth Amendment requires defense attorneys to inform non-citizen clients of the deportation risks of guilty pleas. The district court vacated Chaidez's conviction. The Seventh Circuit reversed, holding that Padilla had declared a new rule and should not apply in a challenge to a final conviction. The Supreme Court affirmed. Padilla does not apply retroactively to cases already final on direct review. A case does not announce a new rule if it merely applies a principle that governed a prior decision to a different set of facts. Padilla's ruling answered an open question about the Sixth Amendment's reach, in a way that altered the law of most jurisdictions, breaking new ground and imposing a new obligation.

 

Read Opinion here at supremecourt.gov

 

United States v. Terrance Mitchell, United States Court of Appeals, 5th Circuit, Docket No. 11-51084

Defendant was found not guilty of second degree murder by reason of insanity and was committed to the Attorney General's custody under 18 U.S.C. 4243(e). Defendant was subsequently found to no longer be a substantial risk to others if he followed a strict treatment regimen and was conditionally released. The district court then later found that defendant failed to comply with the conditions of his release and that he posed a substantial risk of bodily injury to others. Consequently, the district court revoked the release and placed him back into the custody of the Attorney General. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in not calling for a competency hearing; defendant failed to raise a valid Sixth Amendment complaint and the district court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to replace counsel; and the district court committed no error in its finding underlying the conclusion to revoke the conditional release. Accordingly, the court affirmed the order.

 

Read Opinion here at ca5.uscourts.gov

 

United States v. John Heard et al., United States Court of Appeals, 5th Circuit, Docket No. 11-20323

Defendants Heard and Lambert were convicted of conspiracy to defraud the United States by failing to pay and impeding the IRS's collection of employment taxes. Heard was convicted of additional offenses. Both defendants raised a number of challenges to their convictions and sentences. The court held that there was sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to convict Heard of bribery of a public official; the district court did not err in admitting lay testimony of one of Heard's former employees; Heard's sentence was procedurally and substantively reasonable; the district court did not err in instructing the jury on Lambert's withdrawal defense based on a six-year statute of limitations; the district court did not err in denying Lambert's motion for judgment of acquittal based on his withdrawal from the conspiracy; any error in finding sufficient notice for Rule 404(b) evidence was harmless; Lambert's Confrontation Clause rights were not violated when the district court refused to allow him to cross-examine an IRS revenue agent; the district court did not abuse its discretion in excluding testimony of two witnesses concerning Lambert's history of ensuring that their payroll taxes were paid; and Lambert's sentence was substantively reasonable. Accordingly, the court affirmed both defendants' convictions and sentences.

 

Read Opinion here at uscourts.gov

 

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