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During seven weeks in 2002, Malvo (then 17 years old) and Muhammad, the “D.C. Snipers,” murdered 12 individuals, inflicted grievous injuries on six others, and terrorized the area with a shooting spree. The two were apprehended while sleeping in a car. A loaded rifle was found in the car; a hole had been “cut into the lid of the trunk, just above the license plate, through which a rifle barrel could be projected.” At the time, a Virginia defendant convicted of capital murder, who was at least 16 years old at the time of his crime, would be punished by either death or life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. A jury convicted Malvo of two counts of capital murder but declined to recommend the death penalty. He was sentenced to two terms of life imprisonment without parole. Malvo later pleaded guilty in another Virginia jurisdiction to capital murder and attempted capital murder and received two additional terms of life imprisonment without parole. The Supreme Court subsequently held that defendants who committed crimes when under the age of 18 cannot be sentenced to death; cannot be sentenced to life imprisonment without parole unless they committed a homicide that reflected their permanent incorrigibility; and that these rules were to be applied retroactively. The Fourth Circuit concluded that Malvo’s sentences must be vacated because the retroactive constitutional rules for sentencing juveniles were not satisfied. The court remanded for resentencing to determine whether Malvo qualifies as a rare juvenile offender who may, consistent with the Eighth Amendment, be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole because his “crimes reflect permanent incorrigibility” or whether those crimes instead “reflect the transient immaturity of youth,” so that he must receive a lesser sentence. View "Malvo v. Mathena" on Justia Law

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At issue was how to assess the validity of a stipulation entered into by Defendant, through counsel, that admitted all of the elements of a charged crime, making it tantamount to a guilty plea, when Defendant was neither advised of, nor expressly waived, his privilege against self-incrimination or his rights to a jury trial and confrontation. The Supreme Court reversed the court of appeal’s judgment affirming Defendant’s conviction of misdemeanor driving when his driver’s license was suspended or revoked. The Court held (1) the test set forth in People v. Howard, 1 Cal.4th 1132 (1992), that a plea is valid notwithstanding the lack of express advisements and waivers if the record affirmatively shows that it is voluntary and intelligent under the totality of the circumstances applies in cases where there is a total absence of advisements and waivers; and (2) applying that test, the record failed affirmatively to show that Defendant understood his counsel’s stipulation had the effect of waiving Defendant’s constitutional rights. View "People v. Farwell" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court convicting Defendant of the first degree murder of a twelve-year-old boy, finding true the special circumstance that the murder was committed while Defendant was engaged in the commission of a lewd and lascivious act on the child, and sentencing Defendant to death. Specifically, the Court held (1) there was not substantial evidence of Defendant’s present incompetence that required the trial court, on its own motion, to declare a doubt and conduct a competence hearing during the penalty phase of trial; (2) Defendant’s constitutional challenge to the death penalty for mentally ill defendants was unavailing; (3) there was sufficient evidence of first degree murder and sufficient evidence to support a true finding on the special circumstance allegation; (4) Defendant’s argument that the trial court erred in excluding testimony regarding the victim’s relationships lacked merit; (5) the challenged jury instructions were not improper; (6) there was no reasonable possibility that the prosecutor’s comments during the penalty phase affected the jury’s verdict; and (7) Defendant’s challenges to California’s death penalty scheme failed. View "People v. Ghobrial" on Justia Law

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The trial court did not err in admitting Defendant’s incriminating statements made in a motel room during the course of a custodial interrogation without an electronic recording of those statements. Defendant was charged with and convicted of several drug crimes. On appeal, Defendant argued that two post-Miranda self-incriminating statements he made to officers in a motel room should not have been admitted into evidence because no electronic recording of the statements was made available at trial, as required by Ind. R. Evid. 617. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that a motel room, as used by law enforcement in this case to carry out an undercover investigation and to search a suspect incident to his arrest, is not a place of detention as defined by Rule 617. View "Fansler v. State" on Justia Law

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New York law provides that a court may order that a person who has information material to a criminal proceeding be detained to secure her attendance at the proceeding, N.Y. Crim. Proc. Law 620.10–50. In 2008, McKinnies, a New York Police Officer, was under investigation for potential insurance fraud. McKinnies’ car, which she had reported stolen, had turned up in a “chop shop” covertly run by the NYPD. McKinnies stated her friend “Alexandra Griffin” was the last person to drive her car. But “Alexandra Griffin” stated that she had never been given the vehicle, did not have a driver’s license, and that her surname was Simon. Her real name is Dormoy, she is Simon's daughter. Simon was twice taken to the precinct and held for a total of 18 hours over two days. Simon sued under 42 U.S.C. 1983, claiming false arrest and imprisonment. Simon alleged that the warrant, on its face, directed officers to bring Simon to court at a fixed date and time for a hearing to determine whether she should be detained as a material witness. Simon was never presented to the court. The district court held that the defendants are entitled to qualified immunity and granted summary judgment in their favor. The Second Circuit vacated and remanded. With the facts taken in the light most favorable to Simon, the defendants violated Simon’s clearly established Fourth Amendment rights and are not entitled to qualified immunity. View "Simon v. City of New York" on Justia Law

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Kenosha used Comsys as its information-technology department. Comsys had its offices inside City Hall and stored its electronic information on the City’s servers. Their contract automatically renewed from year to year unless terminated, and provided that either party “shall have the right, with or without cause, to terminate the Agreement by written notice delivered to the other party at least twelve (12) calendar months prior to the specified effective date of such termination.” In 2014, hostilities broke out between the parties: a Comsys employee because a city employee with plans to bring the IT department in-house and there were allegations of stolen email and a search of the servers. The City’s Common Council voted to end the contract. The Mayor delivered formal notice days later. The contract ended a year later. Comsys sued, alleging First and Fourth Amendment violations. The district court dismissed several claims on the pleadings and dismissed the Council’s members on the ground of legislative immunity but denied motions for summary judgment on the First and Fourth Amendment claim and official immunity claims by the Mayor, City Administrator, and the City Manager. The Seventh Circuit reversed as to those officials, finding that they did not violate clearly established law and cannot be ordered to pay damages under 42 U.S.C. 1983, and noting that trying to isolate contract administration from speech may be impossible in this situation. View "Comsys Inc. v. Pacetti" on Justia Law

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Kenosha used Comsys as its information-technology department. Comsys had its offices inside City Hall and stored its electronic information on the City’s servers. Their contract automatically renewed from year to year unless terminated, and provided that either party “shall have the right, with or without cause, to terminate the Agreement by written notice delivered to the other party at least twelve (12) calendar months prior to the specified effective date of such termination.” In 2014, hostilities broke out between the parties: a Comsys employee because a city employee with plans to bring the IT department in-house and there were allegations of stolen email and a search of the servers. The City’s Common Council voted to end the contract. The Mayor delivered formal notice days later. The contract ended a year later. Comsys sued, alleging First and Fourth Amendment violations. The district court dismissed several claims on the pleadings and dismissed the Council’s members on the ground of legislative immunity but denied motions for summary judgment on the First and Fourth Amendment claim and official immunity claims by the Mayor, City Administrator, and the City Manager. The Seventh Circuit reversed as to those officials, finding that they did not violate clearly established law and cannot be ordered to pay damages under 42 U.S.C. 1983, and noting that trying to isolate contract administration from speech may be impossible in this situation. View "Comsys Inc. v. Pacetti" on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was when public school students are entitled to Miranda warnings at school. B.A., who was thirteen years old, was escorted from a school bus and questioned in a vice-principal’s office in response to a bomb threat on a bathroom wall. Three officers wearing police uniforms hovered over B.A. and encouraged him to confess. B.A. moved to suppress the evidence from his interview, arguing that he was entitled to Miranda warnings because he was under custodial interrogation and officers failed to secure waiver of his Miranda rights under Indiana’s juvenile waiver statute, Ind. Code 31-32-5-1. The juvenile court denied the motion and found B.A. delinquent for committing false reporting and institutional criminal mischief. The Supreme Court reversed B.A.’s delinquency adjudications, holding (1) B.A. was in police custody and under police interrogation when he made the incriminating statements; and (2) therefore, B.A.’s statements should have been suppressed under both Miranda and Indiana’s juvenile waiver statute. View "B.A. v. State" on Justia Law

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At issue was whether the trial court had authority to enjoin the state from enforcing new statutes as punishment for contempt of court. The court of common pleas found the state to be in contempt of a court order that permanently enjoined the state from enforcing several statutes that the court had declared unconstitutional. The contempt finding was based on the General Assembly’s enactment of new statutes that reduced funding to cities that were not acting in compliance with the statutes that were previously declared unconstitutional. As punishment for the contempt, the state was enjoined from enforcing the new laws. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals, vacated the order of contempt, and dissolved the injunction against enforcing the spending provisions enacted by 2015 Am.Sub.H.B. No. 64 (H.B. 64), holding that the trial court lacked authority to enjoin enforcement of the spending provisions enacted in H.B. 64 because the statutes had not been declared unconstitutional. View "Toledo v. State" on Justia Law

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Montana’s Preferred Provider Agreements Act (MPPAA), Mont. Code Ann. 33-22-1701 to -1707, does not violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Montana Constitution. Plaintiff sought and received treatment from St. Peter’s Hospital for various injuries and symptoms. Because Plaintiff did not have health insurance the Hospital billed Plaintiff directly, but almost all of Plaintiff’s treatments costs were either covered by another party’s insurance or significantly discounted by the Hospital’s financial-need discount. Plaintiff brought this lawsuit arguing that the statutes authorizing the Hospital’s billing practices violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Montana Constitution. The district court concluded that the MPPAA creates similarly situated classes but does not violate Plaintiff’s equal protection rights. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the MPPAA, which authorizes the Hospital’s billing practices, does not deprive Plaintiff of her right to equal protection. View "Gazelka v. St. Peter's Hospital" on Justia Law