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Case Summaries

Criminal Law & Procedure

[06/26] Davila v. Davis
In a case involving a capital punishment trial and subsequent appeal where the convicted alleged the ineffective assistance of appeal counsel in failing to raise the issue of a jury instruction to which trial counsel had properly objected, the court held that the ineffective assistance of post-conviction counsel does not provide cause to excuse the procedural default of ineffective-assistance-of-appellate-counsel claims.

[06/23] Lee v. US
In a criminal case in which defendant was advised by counsel to plead guilty to possessing ecstasy with intent to distribute, an 'aggravated felony' that subjected defendant to removal under the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. section 1101(a)(43)(B), the sentence and conviction are vacated where defendant has demonstrated that he was prejudiced by his counsel's erroneous advice that he would not be deported as a result of pleading guilty.

[06/22] US v. Scarpa
In the appeal of a judgment reducing the prison sentence of a defendant convicted of racketeering and other offenses for his assistance in discovering explosive components related to the Oklahoma City bombing, the government refused to move for a reduction, complaining of the defendant's untruthfulness, and averred that the court misapplied legal standards in determining they could reduce the sentence without a government motion. The court agreed, reversing the decision and remanding the case.

[06/22] Turner v. US
In a case involving multiple defendants charged with kidnapping, robbery, and murder, it was alleged that the Government had withheld evidence from defense at the time of trial, but the court upheld the finding that the evidence withheld was not material.

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Sentencing

[06/22] US v. Scarpa
In the appeal of a judgment reducing the prison sentence of a defendant convicted of racketeering and other offenses for his assistance in discovering explosive components related to the Oklahoma City bombing, the government refused to move for a reduction, complaining of the defendant's untruthfulness, and averred that the court misapplied legal standards in determining they could reduce the sentence without a government motion. The court agreed, reversing the decision and remanding the case.

[06/21] US v. Mondragon
In a case where the court added a weapon enhancement to methamphetamine possession and distribution charges based on statements by co-conspirators, the court determined that the government had presented sufficient evidence to support the finding that the defendant possessed a firearm in connection with their drug activities and not for a lawful purpose and affirmed the lower court ruling.

[06/19] People v. Sivongxxay
In the automatic criminal appeal in which defendant was found guilty and sentenced to death for first degree murder, robbery, and attempted robbery, with special circumstances enhancements, the Court of Appeal's decision is affirmed in its entirety where: 1) the defendant's valid waiver of a jury trial right is satisfied if they appreciate the nature of the right and the consequences of its waiver; and 2) no additional right to be advised of the specific charges, enhancements, allegations, or other issues to which the waiver may apply is required.

[06/19] US v. Burden
Life sentences for convictions of racketeering, violent crimes in aid of racketeering, and conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute more than 50 grams of cocaine base and five kilograms or more of cocaine, are vacated where the district court erred when it implicitly hinged the defendants' life terms of supervised release on the need for retribution--an imperative that is relevant to fashioning a term of incarceration, but not a term of supervised release.

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