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Criminal Law & Procedure Case Summaries

[12/08] US v. Scott
Affirming the conviction of a man for wire fraud, bank fraud, and money laundering in association with a Boston area mortgage fraud scheme because his unconditional guilty plea barred him from subsequently raising independent claims relating to the deprivation of constitutional rights and prevented him from complaining about the alleged use of information obtained during plea negotiation proffers where the plea was not involuntary.

[12/08] US v. Scott
Affirming the district court's rejection of a plea agreement negotiated with the government, refusal to permit renegotiation and the submission of a new agreement, and issuance of a sentence prior to his having read the presentence report because these actions did not result in plain error on the court's part.

[12/08] In Re M.L.
Affirming the decision denying a petition to seal the school records, but agreeing to seal juvenile court records relating to a minor's unlawful possession of a knife on school grounds because it was not an abuse of discretion to require that the court should have an opportunity to review the records the juvenile was seeking to have sealed in order to determine whether there were compelling interests mitigating against sealing them.

[12/07] P. v. Henriquez
Affirming the judgment of death in the case of a man who admitted to killing his pregnant wife and two-year-old daughter, stipulating at trail to murder with malice aforethought, but asserting the murders were not premeditated and the product of an unplanned fit of rage because errors in the guilt and penalty phase were harmless when considered separately and cumulatively did not warrant reversal.

[12/07] US v. Valdivia Flores
Reversing a criminal judgment and remanding the case of a man convicted of the attempted reentry by a removed alien who contended that his prior removal was invalid because a drug trafficking conviction was incorrectly determined to be an aggravated felony, holding that the defendant's waiver of the right to seek judicial review of his removal was not considered and intelligent because the notice of intent to issue the decision suggested he could only contest removability on factual grounds, was unrepresented, and never got a hearing despite requesting one.

[12/07] P. v. Shaw
Reversing a jury conviction for possession of burglary tools of a man who used a foil-lined bag to shoplift jeans because a foil-lined bag was found not to have been an item intended to gain access into property, but affirming convictions for second degree burglary and grand theft.

[12/06] P. v. Fitzgerald
Affirming the trial court's denial of a defendant's petition to seal and destroy arrest records after a trial and acquittal because the Penal Code does not require an evidentiary hearing and any error on the part of the trial court in failing to hold one was harmless.

[12/06] Rowland v. Chappell
Affirming the district court denial of a California prisoner's habeas corpus petition challenging his conviction for first degree murder, rape, and sentence to death because the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) and its highly deferential standard did not apply to his case because he filed a request for the appointment of counsel and stay of execution before the AEDPA's effective date, that trial attorney deficiencies did not result in prejudice, inappropriate prosecutor statements in the closing argument did not violate his constitutional rights, the rejection of a non-concurrent representation conflict claim was not contrary to federal law, and declining to expand the certificate of appealability to include an unexhausted claim that delay in administration of the death penalty is an Eighth Amendment violation.

[12/06] P. v. Gallardo
Reversing judgments against two men convicted for a drive by shooting murder as the result of the admission of statements by a third convict to two jailhouse informants because these remarks, as they applied to the two defendants who were not present for the conversation, constituted inadmissible hearsay, but affirming the judgment as to the third defendant who actually made the statements.

[12/06] US v. Diaz
Affirming a conviction for distributing controlled prescription drugs in a case in which the defendant contended that a government expert witness offered a legal conclusion because the terms used by the witness do not have a specialized meaning in the law or how the law is applied to the facts of a case when they provided a professional opinion about whether a course of conduct comported with the standard of care prevalent in the medical community.

[12/05] US v. Gomez
Affirming the district court's conviction for heroin trafficking and the denial of a motion to suppress heroin contained in a bag in a car's trunk because, although the stop violated the Fourth Amendment, the good faith exception to the exclusionary rule applied when officers reasonably relied on binding precedent at the time of the stop.

[12/04] In Re Martinez
Vacating a first degree murder conviction on direct appeal by a petition for writ of habeas corpus in a case where the court utilized the natural and probable consequences theory of liability and the court could not determine whether the court established beyond a reasonable doubt that the jury actually relied on a legally valid theory in reaching conviction or committed a prejudicial error in utilizing the aforementioned theory.

[12/04] US v. Murillo Alvarado
Affirming the sentence of a man for possession or purchase for sale of a designated controlled substance, holding that a conviction under the statute may be held to be a drug trafficking offense under the modified categorical approach.

[12/04] US v. Marte De La Cruz
Dismissing the appeal following a man's plea of guilt to attempted illegal reentry to the United States following removal because he had waived his right to appeal the finding that his prior conviction was an aggravated felony or crime of violence as part of his plea agreement.

[12/04] P. v. Osmen Suarez
Rejecting most of the arguments advanced in the murder conviction of a juvenile tried as an adult, but granting a limited remand to augment the sentencing record in preparation for a youth offender parole hearing to which the convict will be entitled after their 25th year of incarceration and further concluding that the convict is entitled to have the trial court consider the exercise of discretion as to whether to strike firearm enhancements.

[11/30] P. v. Page
Finding error in the lower courts holding that a defendant who had taken and driven a car without the owner's consent was categorically ineligible for resentencing under Proposition 47, which reduced many theft crimes to misdemeanors, but affirming that the petition was properly denied because the defendant failed to allege that the vehicle's value was $950 or less, and modifying the denial to provide that it is without prejudice in order to allow the defendant to resubmit a petition that meets the statutory requirements.

[11/30] P. v. Sandoval
Affirming an order of no contact between a man convicted of spousal abuse and his wife, but modifying it so that, while he may still not initiate contact, contact initiated by the spouse would not be barred.

[11/30] Smith v. City of Santa Clara
Affirming the district court's judgment in favor of several police officers and a city in a suit alleging the police violated the plaintiff's constitutional rights when they searched her home for her daughter who was on probation and police had probable cause had just been involved in an auto theft and stabbing.

[11/29] US v. Sanchez Molinar
Affirming the district court's imposition of a sentencing enhancement based on the defendant's prior conviction for attempted armed robbery, which constituted a crime of violence under the US Sentencing Guidelines because although armed robbery in Arizona is no longer a categorical crime of violence, Arizona's robbery statute is a categorical match to generic robbery, meaning that the conviction did constitute a crime of violence under the enumerated felonies clause.

[11/28] US v. Ferguson
Affirming the sentence in the case of a man out on probation for a firearm offense who was convicted of sexual assault on a minor because although the district court mentioned the defendant's long arrest record, which included arrests that did not result in conviction, it did not rely upon the arrests that did not result in conviction in its judgment.

[11/28] Washington v. Griffin
Affirming the district court's decision denying the petition for writ of habeas corpus in the case of a man convicted on multiple counts of burglary, assault, and sexual abuse who did not have the right to cross-examine DNA analysts who prepared informal, unsworn documents in a case file introduced as evidence

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