SCOTUS Update: Foster v. Humphrey

  Foster v. Humphrey U.S. Supreme Court Decision Last year, I wrote about United States Supreme Court agreeing to hear argument in the case of Foster v. Humphrey. This case is out of the state of Georgia and involves an African American man that was convicted of murder by an all-white jury. Timothy Tyrone Foster was convicted of murdering a 79-year-old school teacher in 1987. During the murder trial, the defense raised the objection that the state prosecutors intentionally excluded African American jurors during the jury selection. The trial court denied Foster’s claim that racial discrimination was committed during jury selection. [...]

By |2016-06-30T00:22:51+00:00June 30th, 2016|Categories: Case Law, U.S. Supreme Court|Tags: , |

New ‘violent felony’ ruling from SCOTUS may provide sentence relief

  Welch vs. United States: Supreme Court Holds that Johnson vs. United States is Retroactive A recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling may make it possible for some convicted felons who were later sent to prison for possessing a firearm to obtain relief from their sentences. The issues surrounding the Court’s new attitude toward firearm-possession rules are complicated. Put simply, United States law prohibits convicted felons from possessing a firearm. The maximum sentence for a felon convicted under this statute is 10 years, but the sentence is enhanced to a minimum of 15 years and a maximum of life imprisonment if [...]

SCOTUS Update: Los Angeles v. Patel

  Supreme Court strikes down Los Angeles law allowing police to examine hotel registries without a warrant Last year I blogged about Los Angeles vs. Patel. In June of this year, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down their decision.   The hoteliers took victory in the privacy-rights arena when the U.S. Supreme Court essentially struck down a City of Los Angeles law that had resulted in warrantless spot checks of their business records. Officially, the city ordinance required hotel operators to keep specified information about their customers for 90 days and to make the details available to police whenever they [...]

Montgomery vs. Louisiana – U.S. Supreme Court Hears Arguments

  Montgomery v. Louisiana: Retroactive Application of Miller v. Alabama Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court debated whether a 2012 decision (Miller v. Alabama) – which struck down state laws imposing a mandatory and automatic life sentence without parole on juvenile convicted of homicide – should apply retroactively. At the time, the decision was meant to apply prospectively, and many states changed their laws accordingly. But a case for retroactive application, brought by Henry Montgomery, a 70-year-old inmate of Angola, made its way to the court and was argued in mid-October. Montgomery reportedly committed the murder when he was 17. [...]

By |2015-11-16T22:58:49+00:00November 11th, 2015|Categories: Sentencing, U.S. Supreme Court|

SCOTUS Update: Glossip v. Gross

  Supreme Court Rules Executions Performed With Controversial Drugs Not Unconstitutional Another day, another 5-4 split on the U.S. Supreme Court along ideological lines. I’m referring to the recent high-court decision in which held that executions carried out by a controversial three-drug protocol did not constitute “cruel and unusual punishment” under the Constitution’s Eighth Amendment. Lead plaintiff Charles Warner, convicted in 2003 of raping and murdering an 11-month-old in 1997, was put to death in Oklahoma while awaiting the ruling in this case. The issue at bar (officially the case was called Glossip v. Gross) was the use of the drug [...]

By |2015-08-05T01:24:33+00:00August 5th, 2015|Categories: Case Law, U.S. Supreme Court|Tags: , |

Are Strip Searches in Jails Legal?

  Florence vs. County of Burlington: United States Supreme Court Rules Strip Searches in Jails are always Legal Recently, I had a client who was charged with with simple possession of marijuana. He was actually arrested for an outstanding traffic ticket attachment when the deputies allegedly found a joint on him after a strip search. My first thought in this case was, "Is it legal for a jail to strip search someone who has been arrested for a simple traffic ticket?" The deputies actions seemed a little overzealous to me. It sounded like a 4th Amendment violation against unlawful search [...]

SCOTUS: Cops Need a Warrant to Search Cell Phones

  Riley v. California: Supreme Court of the United States Says Law Enforcement May Not Look at Contents of Cell Phone without Warrant Can a cop seize your smart phone or flip-top phone and have his way with it -- combing through such devices (despite the lack of a search warrant) in a desperate effort to find incriminating evidence against you? The U.S. Supreme Court last year finally addressed the issue, perhaps with an eye toward ensuring future protection of an individual’s Fourth Amendment (privacy) rights pertaining to other high-tech devices, such as laptop computers. But first, allow me to [...]

Foster v. Humphrey: Supreme Court to hear issue of excluding black jurors at trial

  Court Agrees to Hear Matter Pertaining to Exclusion of Black Jurors in Georgia Murder Trial - Foster v. Humphrey The famous U.S. Supreme Court case of Batson v. Kentucky in 1986 ruled that prosecutors could not use peremptory challenges (the dismissal of jurors without having to state a valid cause) during a criminal trial based solely on race.   Nearly 30 years later, a possible Batson violation is scheduled for the Supreme Court’s fall-winter docket. The Court recently agreed to hear the case, Foster v. Humphrey, wherein Timothy Tyrone Foster was convicted by an all-white jury in Georgia of the murder [...]

By |2015-06-11T22:24:28+00:00June 11th, 2015|Categories: Case Law, Jury, U.S. Supreme Court|Tags: , |

Batson v. Kentucky: Facts and Case Summary

  Summary of a Fourteenth Amendment Landmark Case: Batson v. Kentucky 476 U.S. 79 (1986) Facts: When selecting a jury, both parties may remove potential jurors using an unlimited number of challenges for cause (e.g., stated reasons such as bias) and a limited number of peremptory challenges (i.e., do not need to state a reason). In the case Batson v. Kentucky, Batson, the defendant, was an African American man convicted of burglary and receipt of stolen goods in a Louisville, Kentucky court by a jury composed entirely of white jurors. The key part of his appeal was based on the jury [...]

By |2015-06-12T14:59:07+00:00June 11th, 2015|Categories: Case Law, Jury, U.S. Supreme Court|Tags: , |

SCOTUS Update: Restitution in Child Pornography Cases Must Be Limited

  Supreme Court ruling Outlines Limits on Child Pornography Restitution Should those who download child porn pay the victims?   A while back, I wrote a couple blogs about the legal battle concerning restitution between people who have pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography and the victims in the photographs. See here and here. Somehow I failed to report back on the Supreme Court ruling. Paroline vs. United States The high court's decision essentially requires that courts find balance with regard to restitution for child pornography victims.

The justices, in a 5-4 vote, reversed a New Orleans federal appeals court [...]