Criminal Law

Daily criminal law and procedure case summaries, brought to you by
  1. (United States Supreme Court) - Struck down a provision of the federal supervised-release statute, 18 U.S.C. section 3583(k). That section imposes mandatory minimum five-year sentences when a judge finds by a preponderance of the evidence that a defendant on supervised release committed one of several enumerated offenses, including possession of child pornography. Justice Gorsuch announced the judgment of the Court and delivered a plurality opinion on behalf of himself and three justices. Justice Breyer concurred in the judgment.
  2. (California Court of Appeal) - Affirmed. Defendant was convicted of exchanging sexually explicit messages with an undercover police officer that defendant believed was a 13-year-old girl. Defendant challenged conviction because the officer was not actually a minor. Trial court held that fact that the officer was not actually a minor was not a defense to an attempt to commit a sex offense with a minor. Appeals court affirmed.
  3. (United States Seventh Circuit) - Affirmed a business owner's sentence for mail fraud for engaging in a scheme to defraud another company. Rejected his challenge to a sentencing enhancement.
  4. (United States Seventh Circuit) - Held that a defendant was entitled to habeas corpus relief from a mandatory minimum sentence under the Armed Career Criminal Act because, due to intervening changes in the law, he no longer had the necessary predicate convictions. Remanded for resentencing, in a decision that focused mainly on habeas-related procedural issues.
  5. (United States Second Circuit) - Reversed the granting of habeas corpus relief in a murder case. Held that a New York prison inmate did not make the compelling showing of actual innocence necessary for merits review of his procedurally barred claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. Disagreed with the district court's conclusion that he sufficiently demonstrated actual innocence.
  6. (California Court of Appeal) - Judgment reversed. A jury convicted Defendant of conspiracy to commit extortion. Defendant challenged the conviction based on jury instructions that he felt were in error. Appeals court agreed stating that there was sufficient evidence to support jury verdict, but judgment reversed because Defendant suffered prejudice because of trial court’s decision not to instruct jury of affirmative defense of litigation privilege.
  7. (United States Supreme Court) - Interpreted a federal statute that prohibits felons and certain other individuals from knowingly possessing firearms. Held that the government must prove both that the defendant knew he possessed a firearm and that he knew he belonged to the relevant category of persons barred from possessing a firearm. Justice Breyer delivered the opinion of the 7-2 Court.
  8. (United States DC Circuit) - Addressed the constitutionality of using undisclosed classified information as a basis for detaining a man at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba. The 17-year detainee argued that his due process rights were violated by the government's withholding of the classified information, but the district court disagreed, concluding that alien Guantanamo detainees have no rights under the Due Process Clause. Reversing, the D.C. Circuit remanded for further proceedings in this habeas corpus action.
  9. (United States Seventh Circuit) - Held that Illinois robbery and armed robbery can be used as predicate offenses under the federal Armed Career Criminal Act. Reaffirmed rulings in six consolidated cases on remand from the U.S. Supreme Court.
  10. (United States Seventh Circuit) - Held that a defendant in a drug-trafficking case had waived his right to challenge a sentencing enhancement, which was imposed for obstructing justice by testifying falsely. Dismissed his appeal.
  11. (United States Fifth Circuit) - Affirmed the sentence of a man who pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm. Rejected his challenge to a sentencing enhancement for an altered or obliterated serial number on the gun.
  12. (United States Supreme Court) - Addressed whether the State of Mississippi's peremptory strike of a particular black prospective juror was motivated by discriminatory intent. Justice Kavanaugh, who delivered the opinion of the 7-2 Court, explicitly stated that the decision broke no new legal ground but rather simply reinforced the Batson decision, in this case involving a man's sixth murder trial (the other five had ended in hung juries or else been reversed on appeal).
  13. (United States Supreme Court) - Clarified when the statute of limitations begins to run on a fabricated-evidence claim. Held that the clock started when the criminal proceedings terminated in the defendant's favor -- that is, when he was acquitted at the end of his second trial. Justice Sotomayor delivered the opinion of the 6-3 Court.
  14. (California Court of Appeal) - Affirmed. Defendant was convicted of various crimes including robbery in the first and second degree. Defendant was sentenced to 25 years using enhanced penalty assessments. Appeals court affirmed the conviction, but ruled that there were sentencing errors and remanded the case to the trial court for review of sentencing.
  15. (United States Seventh Circuit) - Held that the district court lacked jurisdiction to revoke a criminal defendant's supervised release. The issue had to do with the timing of the court hearing on the matter. Vacated the judgment.