Monday, November 30, 2015

Defendant's Threats Don't Require Prosecutor to Quit

A county prosecutor was not required to disqualify herself from a criminal case merely because the defendant was overheard saying she felt like shooting the prosecutor.
State v. Iowa Dist. Court for Dubuque Cty., 2015 BL 349425 Iowa, No. 1402161, 10/23/15

    The Iowa Supreme Court ruled, as many other courts have, that "threats alone are not sufficient to support a conflict of interest for a prosecutor which would require disqualification or recusal." The court intimated that to rule otherwise would not be realistic, because "[i]n an adversarial system, it is expected that a criminal defendant may hold negative views of the prosecutor."

    The main reasoning, to not disqualify prosecutors who are threatened, is to avoid incentivizing threatening behavior of defendants. Defendants should not have the power to change the prosecutors through threats. The court did rule that disqualification is appropriate when there is an actual conflict, such as when the prosecutor is a witness, or has a personal interest in the case.

Monday, November 23, 2015

'All Passwords' Condition to Parole is Overbroad

A probation condition which requires a juvenile convicted of burglary to surrender every password used in his electronic devices, and to submit to warrantless searches of those devices, is overbroad.
People v. Ricardo P., 2015 BL 348208, Cal. Ct. App., No. A144149, 10/22/15

   A juvenile was sentenced to parole conditions requiring that he surrender all of the passwords for accounts in his electronic devices, and to submit to warrantless searches of those devices. The California Court of Appeal, First District, ruled that those conditions were not tailored narrowly enough to the purpose of rehabilitating the specific offender. The conditions did not minimize interference with his Constitutional rights to privacy, speech, and association.

    The court accepted that a condition for the search of an offender's electronics can be permitted so long as it is reasonably related to the goal of preventing future criminality, but that this condition as the court "interpreted it, does not limit the types of data on or accessible through his cell phone that may be searched in light of this purpose."

    The condition is overly broad because it "permits review of all sorts of private information that is highly unlikely to shed any light on whether Ricardo is complying with the other conditions of his probation, drug-related, or otherwise."

    The case was remanded to the juvenile court to tailor the conditions to fit the offender's situation given the criminal history.

    The court did also not completely write off this type of parole condition. The court recognized a sister appellate court's case about the surrender of all passwords in a case involving gang activity. In that case the 'all passwords' condition was acceptable because the offender had admitted to gang activity and there was evidence that he'd used social media to promote gang activity.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Murder Retrial Barred Because Gun Thrown Out In Other Case

Man cannot be prosecuted for murder when the prosecutor's theory was that he shot the victim with a gun that he had been acquitted of owning in a prior trial.
In re Moi, 2015 BL 356241, Wash., No. 89706-9, 1029/15

    The defendant was charged with murder. Relatedly, but stemming from a juvenile conviction, the defendant was charged with unlawful possession of a weapon. Because of the unusual situation, the parties agreed to let the judge decide the gun charge, and to have the jury decide the homicide charge.

     The jury could not reach a verdict on the homicide charge and a mistrial was declared. The trial judge acquitted the defendant of the unlawful possession of a weapon charge. The court ruled that the firearm acquittal bars retrial for the murder charge as a matter of collateral estoppel.

     The court reinforced its decision with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling in Commonwealth v. States, 938 A.2d 1016 (Pa. 2007). In that decision, the court determined that there was a double jeopardy bar to retrial because there had been mistrial after a hung jury could not make a decision, and the trial court judge had acquitted the defendant on a related charge upon which the remaining counts depended.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Bond Hearings for Detained Immigrants

Detained immigrants are now entitled to bond hearings after six months of detention.
Rodriguez v. Robbins, 2015 BL 353942, 9th Cir., No. 13-56706, 10/28/15
Lora v. Shanahan, 2015 BL 353853, 2d Cir., No. 14-2343-pr, 10/28/15

    Appellate courts for the Ninth and Second circuits held that detained immigrants are now entitled to have bond hearings after six months of detention. The rulings are consistent with two other circuits and the same issue is pending in the First and Eleventh circuits as well.

    Both cases relied on Zadvyas v. Davis, 533 U.S. 678 (2001), where the Supreme Court ruled that a detention period of six months is "presumptively reasonable," but that the indefinite detention of an immigrant would raise Fifth Amendment due process concerns.

    Bond hearings after no more than six months of detention ensure that immigrants will not be subjected to unnecessary imprisonment. These decisions require only a hearing, and not release. Both courts determined that a detained immigrant must be released on bail unless the federal government justifies continued detention with "clear and convincing evidence."

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Batson Claim Made Retroactive in 9th Circuit

It is not a new rule that peremptory challenges 'motivated in substantial part' are unconstitutional, it is therefore applicable retroactively.
Crittendon v. Chappell, 2015 BL 351088, 9th Cir., 13-17327, 10/26/15

    When reviewing challenges to peremptory juror strikes other circuits have used a 'mixed motives' analysis using other areas of equal protection law. However, the Ninth Circuit ruled in Cook v. LaMarque, 593 F.3d 810 (9th Cir. 2010) that when judge reviews Batson challenges, they should look at whether the proponent of the strike was 'motivated in substantial part' by race and discriminatory intent.

    The court here determined that the rule announced in Cook is not a new one, and can therefore be used to overturn the defendant's conviction from 1989.  Cook only clarified a rule that already existed, and can, under the Teague v. Lane, 489 U.S. 288 (1989) test, be applied retroactively.