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The First Circuit remanded this case for further proceedings, holding that the district court abused its discretion in failing to rule on the merits of Appellant’s ineffective assistance claim prior to sentencing. Appellant was charged with several counts related to a drug distribution conspiracy. Appellant was originally represented by court-appointed counsel, but after seven months Defendant retained private counsel Prior to sentencing, Appellant raised his ineffective assistance of counsel claim, arguing that his prior counsel allegedly failed to provide him with effective assistance throughout plea negotiations. The district court declined to rule on Appellant’s claim, finding it to be “premature.” Appellant ultimately pled guilty to a high plea offer negotiated by his new counsel. The First Circuit disagreed with the district court’s ruling, holding that, at times, it may be imperative for a district court to rule on a claim of ineffective assistance prior to the defendant seeking post-conviction relief, and such was true in this case. View "United States v. Ortiz-Vega" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against his former employer, Toyota, for discrimination and retaliation in violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), Gov. Code, 12900 et seq., as well as for wrongful discharge. The trial court granted summary judgment for Toyota. The Court of Appeal reversed and held that plaintiff presented sufficient evidence that a substantial motivating factor for his termination was invidious sex or gender stereotyping related to his sexual orientation (the perception that he was "too gay"). However, the court held that plaintiff failed to raise a triable issue of material fact to support his FEHA retaliation and related common law tort claim. Accordingly, the court remanded for the trial court to enter an order granting Toyota's alternative motion for summary adjudication as to these causes of action. View "Husman v. Toyota Motor Credit Corp." on Justia Law

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The 30-day impound of plaintiff's vehicle under Cal. Veh. Code. 14602.6(a)(1) constituted a seizure that required compliance with the Fourth Amendment. Plaintiff filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 on behalf of vehicle owners whose vehicles were subjected to the 30-day impound. The panel held that the exigency that justified the seizure of plaintiff's vehicle vanished once the vehicle arrived in impound and plaintiff showed up with proof of ownership and a valid driver's license. In this case, defendants provided no justification for the seizure. View "Brewster v. Beck" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction for failure to protect a child from sexual assault and first-degree sexual assault of a child under thirteen as a party to a crime. Contrary to Defendant’s arguments on appeal, the Supreme Court concluded that Defendant’s convictions were proper, holding (1) Defendant’s convictions were not multiplicitous and thus did not violate double jeopardy because failure to protect a child from sexual assault and first-degree sexual assault of a child under thirteen as a party to a crime are not identical in fact; (2) Defendant failed to overcome the presumption that the legislature intended cumulative punishments for her conduct, given that her conduct consistent of two separate acts; and (3) Defendant’s claim of ineffective assistance of counsel was without merit. View "State v. Steinhardt" on Justia Law

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Defendant entered a guilty plea to aggravated driving under the influence, reserving his right to appeal the denial of his motion to suppress. After an evidentiary hearing on appeal, the district court denied Defendant’s motion to suppress. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, under the totality of the circumstances, a corroborated tip from an identified citizen informant based, in part, on personal observations of a co-worker was sufficiently reliable to provide the law enforcement officer with particularized suspicion to stop Defendant’s vehicle. Therefore, the district court did not err in denying Defendant’s motion to suppress. View "State v. Zietlow" on Justia Law

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Lombardo, a long-time member of the Chicago Outfit, the lineal descendant of Al Capone’s gang, is serving a life sentence on his convictions for racketeering, murder, and obstruction of justice. After the Seventh Circuit affirmed his convictions and sentence on direct appeal, he retained a new attorney to argue that ineffective assistance of counsel. His new attorney misunderstood when the one-year limitations period for motions under 28 U.S.C. 2255 began running and filed Lombardo’s motion too late. The attorney represented that he miscalculated the deadline due to his mistaken belief that the statute of limitations began running only when the Supreme Court denied a petition for rehearing, not when it denied a petition for certiorari and that this error was “based on misinformation provided by a trusted paralegal.” The Seventh Circuit affirmed dismissal. An attorney’s miscalculation of a statute of limitations does not justify equitably tolling the limitations period for a motion under section 2255, even if the result is to bar a claim of ineffective assistance of trial counsel. View "Lombardo v. United States" on Justia Law

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In 2002, Barnett was charged with felony battery. At the time, Indiana courts established an “omnibus date” for substantive amendments to charges. The court set Barnett’s omnibus date so the last day for substantive amendment was December 8, 2002. In February 2003 the prosecutor added felony burglary, felony intimidation, and habitual offender charges. No one caught the error. Barnett was convicted and sentenced to 80 years’ imprisonment. Barnett’s appellate lawyer also overlooked this problem. Barnett later unsuccessfully pursued the issue in state post-conviction proceedings and in a petition under 28 U.S.C. 2254. After the district court denied his habeas petition, the Seventh Circuit granted another Indiana petitioner habeas relief on the same theory. The Seventh Circuit remanded Barnett’s case. The district court’s order on remand stated “[w]ithin 120 days of this Order, the State must either release the Petitioner or grant him leave to file a new direct appeal.” When the state had done nothing within 120 days, Barnett sought immediate release. Indiana responded that it had misunderstood the order as requiring its courts to grant a new appeal upon Barnett’s request. The state simultaneously filed a request for appeal on Barnett’s behalf and asked the court to extend the release date. The district court granted that request. The court denied a motion to amend because the Indiana Court of Appeals had granted leave for Barnett to file a new appeal. The Seventh Circuit affirmed; the district court was entitled to extend the state’s deadline. View "Barnett v. Neal" on Justia Law

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Owens, an Illinois state prisoner, filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that nearly two dozen prison employees deliberately ignored his medical needs and retaliated against him for filing grievances and lawsuits. He is primarily dissatisfied with the adequacy of the toothpaste, mail supplies, and laundry detergent he received at three different prisons over a six-year period. The district court narrowed the list of defendants at screening, 28 U.S.C. 1915A, and later granted summary judgment for the remaining defendants. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. “This lawsuit is not the first one in which Owens has tossed into a single complaint a mishmash of unrelated allegations against unrelated defendants.” Owens engaged in “nearly constant” litigation during 2009 and 2010. View "Owens v. Godinez" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated Petitioner’s conviction for dealing materials harmful to minors, holding that trial counsel was ineffective in failing to assert a free speech First Amendment defense and that such a defense would have succeeded if it had been raised. The conviction stemmed from the interception of drawings Petitioner had sent to his five-year-old daughter from jail depicting Petitioner as naked and holding his daughter in the air. The district court granted summary judgment to the State on Petitioner’s petition for post-conviction relief, concluding that Petitioner suffered no prejudice because his First Amendment defense lacked merit. The Supreme Court reversed and vacated Petitioner’s conviction, holding that Petitioner’s drawing was not overtly sexual or sexually suggestive, and therefore, Petitioner’s First Amendment defense was viable. View "Butt v. State" on Justia Law

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Petitioner was convicted of murder and sentenced to death. The Fifth Circuit granted a certificate of appealability on two issues: (1) a Mills claim that the omission of a jury instruction—required under Texas law—that jurors need not agree on what particular evidence they found mitigating created a substantial risk that the jurors may have mistakenly believed mitigating evidence needed to be accepted unanimously and (2) that petitioner's trial counsel's failure to object to the missing instruction constituted ineffective assistance of counsel under Strickland v. Washington. In regard to the Mills claim, the court held that, given the record, there did not exist a reasonable likelihood or substantial probability that reasonable jurors may have thought they were precluded from considering any mitigating evidence unless all 12 jurors agreed on the existence of a particular such circumstances. Therefore, the state courts did not unreasonably apply Mills. Assuming arguendo that failing to object to the absent jury instruction was deficient performance, defendant failed to show prejudice. Accordingly, the Texas state courts' application of Strickland to defendant's ineffective assistance of counsel claims was not unreasonable. The court affirmed the denial of habeas relief. View "Young v. Davis" on Justia Law