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In 2016, the Governor of Indiana signed into law HEA 1337, which created new provisions and amended others that regulate abortion procedures within Indiana. Planned Parenthood filed suit, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief from three parts of the law: the “Sex-Selective and Disability Abortion Ban,” Ind. Code 16-34-4, which prohibit a person from performing an abortion if the person knows the woman is seeking an abortion solely for one of the enumerated reasons (the nondiscrimination provisions); an added provision to the informed consent process, instructing those performing abortions to inform women of the non-discrimination provisions; and amendments to the provisions dealing with the disposal of aborted fetuses. The district court initially entered a preliminary injunction and later granted Planned Parenthood summary judgment. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The non-discrimination provisions clearly violate well-established Supreme Court precedent holding that a woman may terminate her pregnancy prior to viability and that the state may not prohibit a woman from exercising that right for any reason. Because the non-discrimination provisions are unconstitutional, so is the provision that a woman must be informed of them. The amended fetal disposition provisions violate substantive due process because they have no rational relationship to a legitimate state interest. View "Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, Inc. v. Commissioner of the Indiana State Department of Health" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court convicting Defendant of one count of first-degree child molestation sexual assault and one count of the sale or distribution of photographs of a minor suggesting that the minor engaged in, or is about to engage in, a sexual act. On appeal, Defendant argued that the trial court violated his Sixth Amendment right to cross-examine the complaining witness regarding her allegations against her biological father. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the trial justice did not abuse his discretion in precluding the admission of this evidence. View "State v. Danis" on Justia Law

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As Harvey and Eibeck walked through Peoria, four men confronted them. One reached for his waistband. Harvey and Eibeck, who was high, ran. Eibeck heard a gunshot and kept running. The shooter killed Harvey. Police found no weapon, shell casing, or eyewitness. Eibeck could generally describe, but not positively identify, the shooter. Six months later, Officer Curry conducted a photo line-up; Eibeck identified Jackson, resulting in Jackson’s warrantless arrest. He had consumed alcohol and drugs before his arrest. Curry and Officer McDaniel interrogated Jackson on video. Jackson, high and woozy, said he was not at the shooting. McDaniel, who is black, told Jackson if he remained silent he would be charged and would not receive a fair trial because he is black. The officers allegedly falsely claimed multiple witnesses identified Jackson; suggested Jackson shot in self-defense; and pressured him to make false inculpatory statements. About two hours into the interrogation, Jackson collapsed. The Illinois Appellate Court reversed his first-degree murder conviction, concluding the police lacked probable cause for arrest. The Seventh Circuit dismissed an appeal of the trial court’s refusal to dismiss, based on qualified immunity, claims the officers coerced a confession. The court held that it lacked jurisdiction because the district court’s decision not to watch the video does not fit within the exception to the general rule that only final orders are appealable. The court made no reviewable legal determination regarding McDaniel’s comments about race. View "Jackson v. Curry" on Justia Law

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At issue was the proper interpretation of Wis. Stat. 980.09(2), as amended by 2013 Wis. Act 84, which establishes the discharge procedure for a person civilly committed as a sexually violent person pursuant to Wis. Stat. ch. 980. David Hager, Jr. and Howard Carter both filed petitions for discharge from commitment as sexually violent persons. Both petitions were denied. The court of appeals reversed in Hager but affirmed in Carter. The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals as to Hager and affirmed as to Carter, holding (1) under Wis. Stat. 980.09(2), circuit courts are to carefully examine, but not weigh, those portions of the record they deem helpful to their consideration of a petition for discharge, which may include facts both favorable and unfavorable to the petitioner; (2) section 980.09(2) does not violate the constitutional right to due process of law as guaranteed by the United States and Wisconsin Constitutions; and (3) Carter’s counsel was not ineffective for failing to challenge retroactive application of Act 84 to Carter. View "State v. Hager" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the habeas court denying Appellant’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus. After a jury trial, Appellant was convicted of second-degree murder and aggravated assault. In his habeas petition, Appellant argued that the circuit court committed errors during the jury selection process that warranted a new trial and that his counsel provided constitutionally ineffective assistance. The habeas court concluded (1) the circuit court committed errors during the jury selection process, but the errors were not structural and Appellant did not prove prejudice; and (2) Appellant failed to prove that counsel was ineffective during the jury selection process. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court’s errors during the jury selection process were not structural and were harmless; and (2) Appellant failed to show that he receive ineffective assistance of counsel. View "Miller v. Young" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of a 28 U.S.C. 2241 petition, but on different grounds. Petitioner was convicted of murdering Eleventh Circuit Judge Robert Vance and sentenced to death. The court held that petitioner had Article III standing to challenge Alabama's exercise of custody given his previously-imposed federal sentences, and that his second claim did not constitute an unauthorized second or successive section 2254 petition. The court held, however, that petitioner's claims failed on the merits. The court's own precedent foreclosed petitioner's substantive assertion that the Alabama execution could not be carried out until the federal sentences of life imprisonment were complete. View "Moody v. Warden Holman CF" on Justia Law

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Enacted in 2016, Ohio Revised Code 3701.034 requires the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) to ensure that all funds it receives through six non-abortion-related federal health programs are not used to contract with any entity that performs or promotes nontherapeutic abortions, or becomes or continues to be an affiliate of any entity that performs or promotes nontherapeutic abortions. Plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief under 42 U.S.C. 1983. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the entry of a permanent injunction, first rejecting a challenge to Plaintiffs’ standing to assert due process claims. The district court properly applied the “unconstitutional conditions” doctrine, which is not limited to First Amendment rights. Although the government has no obligation to subsidize constitutionally protected activity, it may not use its control over funds to curtail the exercise of constitutionally protected rights outside the scope of a government-funded program. Section 3701.034 imposes conditions; does not distinguish between the grantee and the project; does not permit the grantee to keep abortion-related speech and activities separate from governmental programs; does not leave the grantee unfettered in its other activities; and does not permit the grantee to continue to perform abortion and provide abortion-related services through programs that are independent from projects that receive the funds. While finding the “undue-burden analysis” employed in some courts “questionable,” the court concluded that section 3701.034 is unnecessary to advance the interests ODH asserts. View "Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio v. Himes" on Justia Law

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In this commitment-extension proceeding the Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the circuit court’s order denying J.M.’s motion for post-disposition relief in which J.M. claimed ineffective assistance of counsel. The Court answered (1) J.M. had a statutory right to effective assistance of counsel in his Chapter 41 commitment-extension hearing, and the Strickland standard is the correct standard for evaluating a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel in a commitment-extension hearing; (2) J.M. did not show that a reasonable probability existed that the result of the proceeding would have been different had his trial counsel’s performance not been allegedly deficient regarding J.M.’s appearance in prison garb; and (3) J.M. did not establish that he was entitled to a new trial on the ground that his wearing of prison garb during the trial so distracted the jury that justice was miscarried, and the circuit court’s conflicting jury instructions did not entitle J.M. to a new trial in the interest of justice. View "Winnebago County v. J.M." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that Ohio’s death-penalty scheme does not violate the right to a trial by jury as guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Appellant was sentenced to death. The court of appeals remanded the case to the trial court for a new penalty-phase trial. On remand, Appellant moved to dismiss the capital specification from his indictment, arguing that Ohio’s death-penalty scheme is unconstitutional under the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Hurst v. Florida, __ U.S. __ (2016). Hurst invalidated Florida’s former capital-sentencing scheme because it “required the judge alone to find the existence of an aggravating circumstance.” The trial court granted the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because Ohio law requires the critical jury findings that were not required by the law at issue in Hurst, Ohio’s death-penalty scheme does not violate a defendant’s right to a trial by jury as guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment. View "State v. Mason" on Justia Law

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The absolute prohibition against civilian possession of stun guns under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, 131J violates the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. Defendant was charged with possession of a stun gun, among other crimes. Defendant to dismissed that count of the complaint, arguing that section 131J’s criminal prohibition of the possession of stun guns by civilians violates the Second Amendment. The trial judge denied the motion. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the district court’s order denying Defendant’s motion to dismiss and directed the judge to allow the motion, holding (1) stun guns are “arms” within the protection of the Second Amendment and therefore may be regulated but not absolutely banned; (2) consequently, the absolute prohibition in section 131J that bars all civilians from possessing or carrying stun guns, even in their home, violates the Second Amendment; and (3) section 131J in its current form is facially invalid. View "Ramirez v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law