Justia Civil Rights Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Kentucky Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court sentencing Defendant to twenty years' imprisonment for his convictions of two counts of manslaughter in the second degree, driving under the influence of controlled substances first offense, and persistent felony offender first degree, holding that Defendant's claims of error did not warrant reversal.Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the trial court was correct in declining to suppress Defendant's statements statements he made at the accident scene, and suppression of Defendant's blood test was not required in this case; (2) the trial court did not err in excusing a prospective juror for cause; and (3) while certain statements were not properly admissible during the Commonwealth's examination of detective Brandon McPherson, they did not rise to the level of palpable error resulting in manifest injustice. View "Simpson v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and vacated in part the judgment of the circuit court in this criminal case, holding that the case must be remanded for the trial court to consider whether Defendant's consent to a blood draw was voluntary under the totality of the circumstances.Defendant entered a conditional plea to one count of manslaughter in the first degree and one count of manslaughter in the second degree. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and vacated in part, holding that the trial court (1) did not err by failing to suppress Defendant's statements obtained without a Miranda warning; (2) erred in suppressing the results of Defendant's blood draw without determining whether her consent was voluntary where she received a warning that if she refused the blood test and were convicted of DUI, her mandatory minimum jail sentence would be doubled; and (3) did not err by failing to dismiss the case due to alleged abuse of the grand jury process. View "Haney v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the judgment of the trial court denying Defendant's motion to suppress location data obtained from the police's search of his real-time cell-site location information (CSLI) and the evidence obtained from the search, holding that suppression was required.Defendant entered a conditional guilty plea to one count of first-degree robbery, one count of possession of a handgun by a convicted felon, and one count of receiving stolen property. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the trial court erred in denying Defendant's motion to suppress because the police's acquisition of Defendant's real-time CSLI constituted a warrantless, unreasonable search. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the officers illegally obtained Defendant's real-time CSLI and that the evidence obtained therefrom should be excluded from evidence. View "Commonwealth v. Reed" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court denying Appellant's Ky. R. Crim. P. 11.42, Ky R. Crim. P. 10.02, Ky. R. Civ. P. 60.02, and Ky. R. Civ. P. 60.03 motion for relief, holding that the circuit court did not err.Appellant was convicted of two counts of complicity to murder and other crimes and sentenced to death. In the instant motion, Appellant argued that McCoy v. Louisiana, 138 S.Ct. 1500 (2018), governed his claim that his defense counsel provided ineffective assistance. The circuit court denied the motion, determining that the claim was both substantively and procedurally improper. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there was no error in the circuit court's denial of relief. View "Epperson v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court finding Defendant guilty of two counts of murder and four counts of wanton endangerment in the first degree and sentencing him to life in prison without the possibility of parole, holding that there was no error or abuse of discretion.In 2012, a jury found Defendant guilty but mentally ill of murder and wanton endangerment. The Supreme Court reversed the conviction and remanded the case for a new trial. On remand, the main issue at trial was Defendant's affirmative defense of insanity or, in the alternative, extreme emotional disturbance. A jury found Defendant guilty of the crimes and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding Defendant's claims on appeal were without merit. View "Hall v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court denying Defendant's motion to suppress evidence of cocaine discovered after a dog sniff of the vehicle in which Defendant was a passenger, holding that the stop was extended, and that extension was not justified by reasonable, articulable suspicion.Defendant was charged with first-degree possession of cocaine. He pled not guilty and filed a motion to dismiss, claiming that he was illegally detained and that the police did not have reasonable, articulable suspicion to call the dog. The trial court determined that it was a valid stop and that the evidence should not be suppressed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the traffic stop was extended; (2) the Commonwealth failed to establish simultaneous missions that permitted the seizure; and (3) the Commonwealth did not meet its burden of establishing reasonable, articulable suspicion. View "Commonwealth v. Clayborne" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the trial court's denial of Defendant's motion to suppress evidence found in a drug dog sniff search during a traffic stop of the vehicle in which Defendant was a passenger, holding that the trial court erred by denying the motion to suppress.In reversing the denial of Defendant's motion to suppress, the court of appeals concluded that the investigating officer unconstitutionally extended the duration of the traffic stop to accommodate the dog-sniff search. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Commonwealth failed to establish that the extension of the traffic stop was supported by reasonable, articulable suspicion. View "Commonwealth v. Conner" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court denying Defendant's motion to suppress, holding that the traffic stop in this case was extended, and the extension was not justified by reasonable, articulable suspicion.Defendant was charged with first-degree possession of cocaine. Defendant pled not guilty and filed a motion to suppress the evidence of cocaine, claiming that he was illegally detained and the the police did not have a reasonable, articulable suspicion to call for a K-9 unit to come and search the scene. The trial court denied the motion to suppress, concluding that the initial stop was valid. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that no reasonable articulable suspicion existed to permit the K-9 unit search and that the search unconstitutionally extended the traffic stop, in violation of Defendant's Fourth Amendment rights. View "Commonwealth v. Clayborne" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court's judgment convicting Defendant of complicity to murder and tampering with physical evidence, holding the trial court did not err in admitting unreacted out-of-court statements in which Defendant's co-defendant incriminated herself and Defendant to a cellmate who testified at trial.Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the trial court did not err in ruling that the Confrontation Clause was not implicated because the co-defendant's out-of-court statements to her cellmate were not testimonial and sufficient corroboration otherwise supported the admissibility of the statements; (2) the trial court did not err in admitting a jail phone call of Defendant; and (3) the Commonwealth's Attorney improperly questioned a witness, but the error did not render Defendant's trial fundamentally unfair. View "Fisher v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court convicting Defendant of two counts of first-degree sexual abuse and two counts of first-degree sodomy and sentencing him to life imprisonment, holding that there was no reversible error in the proceedings below.Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the jury instructions did not violate the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Kentucky or the United States Constitutions; (2) the Commonwealth presented sufficient evidence to convict Defendant of two counts of first-degree sodomy; and (3) Defendant was not deprived of a fair trial by the Commonwealth's attorney vouching during closing argument for the victim's truthfulness. View "Towe v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law