Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Diminishes Privacy Expectation for Those in Pretrial Intervention Programs

Probation officers legitimately executed a warrantless search, based on reasonable suspicion, of the house of a man in a pretrial intervention program.
Castillo v. United States, 2016 BL 77940, 11th Cir., No. 13-11757, 3/15/16

     The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit used the same rationale that is used to justify warrantless searches of probationers and parolees; namely, the state's strong interest in rehabilitating persons who enter pretrial intervention.

     The man had a diminished expectation of privacy in his home because he had entered into a pre-trial intervention program as a part of a deferred prosecution agreement. Furthermore, the court rejected an ineffective assistance of counsel claim for failing to contest the search, because the officers acted after receiving an solid tip which led to "reasonable suspicion" that the defendant possessed a firearm, which was a violation of his deferred prosecution agreement.


Monday, April 4, 2016

Trespassing At Dusk?

Dusk does not begin the moment the sun falls behind the horizon, because that is not when night has begun.
People v. Orta, 2016 BL 85538, N.Y. Crim. Ct., No. 2015BX043959, 3/15/16

     The Criminal Court for the City of New York, Bronx County ruled that dusk is essentially a synonym for nightfall. The court also indicated that the period between sunset and dusk, called twilight, is still light enough to see objects clearly and carry on with outdoor activities.

     When the officer stated that "the sun had set and nightfall had begun" did not precisely indicate that the defendant had violated the proscription against being in the park after dusk.


Saturday, April 2, 2016

Court Strikes Down 'No More Tattoos' Release Condition

A special condition of supervised release that a man could get no more tattoos for three years, after being convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm, exceeded the authority of the federal judge.
United States v. Campos, 2016 BL 86842., No. 15-1346, 3/22/16

     The court rejected the government's "excessive cost" argument, saying that preventing the man from paying for "this one particular expenditure" would not advance his educational, vocational, medicinal or other correctional needs and bears no connection to any of the other sentencing factors set out in 18 U.S.S. §3553(a).


Friday, April 1, 2016

Hypothetically Summing Up Case Improper

The prosecution may not ask a hypothetical question to an expert that would ask them to assume a piece of disputed evidence as fact.

State v. Simms, 2016 BL 78140, N.J., No A-14, 3/15/16

     The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that experts are forbidden to summarize disputed evidence or give opinions on ultimate issues that most jurors could resolve without any help. It also indicated that prosecutors may not use an expert's hypothetical as a proxy for closing argument.

     "A hypothetical question in a drug case should not be used as a prosecutorial tool to sum up an entire case in a single question for the purpose of eliciting an expert's opinion on a defendant's guilt," the court ruled. In this case, the hypothetical question was improper because it called on the expert to assume facts that weren't established through testimony.


20-Year Delay Not A Speedy Trial

The government is responsible for a 20-year delay in prosecution when they neglected to bring the case before in spite of various opportunities.
City of Grand Forks v. Gale, 2016 BL 78728, N.D., No. 20150204, 3/15/16

     The North Dakota Supreme Court ruled that the city was mostly responsible for this delay because prosecutors did not try to find the defendant after he failed to appear at a scheduled sentencing for a plea deal in 1995.

     The court said that they "will not excuse defendants on speedy trial grounds when they purposefully evade prosecution, but we also cannot excuse the government when it does not fulfill its burden of diligent prosecution." The court indicated that both parties bore some responsibility, but that the city was more culpable because an accused is not responsible for his prosecution.

     Though the defendant had moved to Colorado, he had reappeared in North Dakota courts on various occasions for criminal and child support hearings, and the city did not try to execute the 1995 warrant until 20 years after the fact. The court looked at the four-part test in Barker v. Wingo, which weighs the length of the delay, the reason for the delay, the extent to which the defendant asserted his speedy-trial right, and any prejudice.