SCOTUS granted review today of a case that SCOTUSblog describes as follows:
- In McCoy v. Louisiana, the justices will consider the case of Robert McCoy, who was convicted of first-degree murder for the shooting deaths of his estranged wife’s son, mother and step-father. After firing his public defender, McCoy was represented by Larry English, an attorney paid by his parents. As with his public defender, McCoy maintained his innocence in meetings with English and “emphatically opposed” English’s proposal to concede that McCoy was guilty in the hope that he would be spared the death penalty. McCoy attempted to remove English and represent himself, but the trial court rejected his request on the ground that it came too late: His trial was only a few days away.
- When the trial began, English did indeed concede McCoy’s guilt, over interruptions from McCoy. McCoy was convicted and sentenced to death. He appealed (among other things) English’s concession of guilt, arguing that it violated his constitutional right to have the effective assistance of an attorney. The Louisiana Supreme Court denied his appeal, but now the Supreme Court will consider his claim.
Summary from FourthAmendment.com:
- Defendant had a reasonable expectation of privacy that society is now prepared to recognize as reasonable from installation of a pole camera across the street from his house and monitoring it for two months based solely on a tip that he was involved in drugs. The state, however, gets the benefit of the good faith exception because this is the first time this happened. State v. Jones, 2017 SD 59, 2017 S.D. LEXIS 115 (Sept. 20, 2017).
The rest of the details here.
The case is State v. Sines. It is a significant, thorough opinion on a particularly complicated search and seizure issue.
This opinion is almost certainly helpful in cases where the police lawfully seize a firearm without a warrant (during a traffic stop, for example) and then do an arguably unlawful ballistics test, also without a search warrant. The facts in Sines are much, much different, but the analysis would be similar.
Defendant’s blood draw in the hospital was for medical purposes, and a search warrant was required to get access to that information. Trial court affirmed. State v. Saunders, 2017-Ohio-7348 (5th Dist. 2017).
- Therefore, we hold that an OVI suspect in Ohio enjoys a reasonable expectation of privacy in his or her medical records “that pertain to any test or the result of any test administered to the person to determine the presence or concentration of alcohol, a drug of abuse, or alcohol and a drug of abuse in the person's blood, breath, or urine at any time relevant to the criminal offense in question,” which are stored securely in a hospital. R.C. 2317.022(B). It follows that, prior to obtaining such medical records a law enforcement officer must comply with the warrant requirement of the Fourth Amendment.
Great article by Emily Yoffe can be found here.
- In meeting this federal demand, some schools have come to rely on the work of a small band of self-styled experts in the neurobiology of trauma who claim that sexual violations provoke a disabling, multifaceted physiological response. Being assaulted is traumatic, and no one should expect those who have been assaulted to have perfect recall or behave perfectly rationally, but this argument goes much further. It generally goes like this: People facing sexual assault become terrified, triggering a potent cascade of neurotransmitters and stress hormones.This chemical flood impairs the prefrontal cortex of the brain, impeding victims’ capacity for rational thought, and interferes with their memory. They may have significant trouble recalling their assault or describing it coherently or chronologically. The fear of imminent death may further elicit an extended catatonic state known as “tonic immobility,” rendering them powerless to speak or move—they feel “frozen.”
- As a result, those adjudicating sexual-assault allegations are told, the absence of verbal or physical resistance, the inability to recall crucial parts of an alleged assault, a changing story—none of these factors should raise questions or doubt about a claim. Indeed, all of these behaviors can be considered evidence that an assault occurred.
But . . .
- I talked with Richard McNally, a psychology professor at Harvard and one of the country’s leading experts on the effects of trauma on memory, about the assertions Campbell made in her presentation. He first said that because assaults do not occur within the laboratory, “there is no direct evidence” of any precise or particular cascade of physiological effects during one, “nor is there going to be.” But there is plenty of evidence about how highly stressful experiences affect memory, and much of it directly contradicts Campbell. In his 2003 book, Remembering Trauma, McNally writes, “Neuroscience research does not support [the] claim that high levels of stress hormones impair memory for traumatic experience.” In fact, it’s almost the opposite: “Extreme stress enhances memory for the central aspects of an overwhelming emotional experience.” There is likely an evolutionary reason for that, McNally said: “It makes sense for natural selection to favor the memory of trauma. If you remember life threatening situations, you’re more likely to avoid them.” Notably, survivors of recent horrific events—the Aurora movie-theater massacre, the San Bernardino terror attack, the Orlando-nightclub mass murder—have at trial or in interviews given narrative accounts of their ordeals that are chronological, coherent, detailed, and lucid.
- From the affidavit, a magistrate could infer that, because defendant’s cellular phone was used to take incriminating photographs—and defendant posted those photos on his Facebook page—there was a possibility that the photos had been transmitted to at least some of his other electronic devices. Yet, the contents of the affidavit failed to establish that is was more likely than not that such transmission had occurred with respect to all of his devices. See id. at 138 (“ ‘[T]he standard of probability requires the conclusion that it is more likely than not that the objects of the search will be found at the specified location.’ ” (Quoting State v. Williams, 270 Or App 721, 725, 349 P3d 616 (2015) (emphasis in Friddle).)). Thus, as in Friddle, because the affidavit contains no specific information to support an inference that data existing on one device would have been transmitted to other devices belonging to defendant, the affidavit was insufficient to support probable cause to examine those other devices.
That's the issue in a recent petition for cert you can find here.
From fourthamendment.com: CAAF: It violated Miranda to order soldier provide password to unlock properly seized cell phone
The website described the holding as follows: "It violated a Mirandized suspect’s Fifth Amendment rights to direct him to enter the passcode into a properly seized cell phone to unlock it for a search."
I haven't read the opinion yet, but the following is either explicit or easily inferred: (1) in-custody defendant, (2) gov't has lawful right to search cell phone, (3) providing the passcode is testimonial and (4) defendant had asked for a lawyer.
This puts me in mind of the recent Banks case. In that case, the Oregon Court of Appeals held that the refusal to take a breath test was testimonial evidence. However, it did not find a constitutional violation in using his refusal against him.
I wonder if Banks would have turned out differently if Mr. Banks had asked for a lawyer. (Or not been Mirandized.) In such a situation, you'd have (1) an in-custody defendant, (2) government has lawful right to obtain a breath sample, (3) refusing to provide a breath sample is testimonial, and (4) defendant had asked for a lawyer.
I'd love for a DUII attorney to weigh in on that situation.
Don't forget that
Whenever you receive an upward departure notice, you should review the relevant OARs, which can be found here.
This is because the OARs may provide a defense that isn't obvious from the notice. For example, the OAR on vulnerable victim is quite explicit that the defendant must have known of the specific vulnerability. Further, it's not enough that the person is "vulnerable" but that the vulnerability "increased the harm or threat of harm." That will not be true in all cases. I also like the use of the word "extreme." In the context of age, I'm inclined to think that 14 isn't an extreme age. Nor is seventy.
- (B) The offender knew or had reason to know of the victim's particular vulnerability, such as the extreme youth, age, disability or ill health of victim, which increased the harm or threat of harm caused by the criminal conduct.
Also of note is the limitation on the "multiple victims" enhancement.
- (G) The offense involved multiple victims or incidents. This factor may not be cited when it is captured in a consecutive sentence.
In certain cases, that second sentence is key.
Today, in State v. Ortega-Gonsalez, the COA held that the charges that also serve as predicates to a racketeering charge are from the same criminal episode as the racketeering charge. Therefore, the trial court erred by reconstituting the defendant's grid score.
This holding can have an even greater impact on other racketeering defendants. Let's assume the predicate offenses are all felony thefts or UUVs. Assume also the defendant has no criminal history. If all the UUVs/Thefts arise from the same criminal episode as the racketeering charge, the defendant doesn't become internally REPO. Ergo, he stays presumptive probation for all the UUV/Theft counts.
Also, for cases involving one victim (e.g., the state, if all the underlying charges are DCS counts), then the 200% rule also kicks in if the crimes are from one criminal episode.
Here are two important challenges to upward departure factors. They're basic, but often forgotten by even experienced defense attorneys.
The first one involves a warrant for a defendant's entire Facebook account. A link to the opinion, and a discussion of its significance by Orin Kerr, can be found here.
Mr. Kerr's discussion of the second opinion can be found here. The title of this article is: "D.C. Circuit forbids seizing all electronic storage devices in computer warrant cases"
Additional discussion here from fourthamendment.com, under the heading, "DC Cir.: The mere fact a person has a cell phone isn’t PC to search it; must be PC evidence would be found"
The quiz is here.
The results are brutal this year. The ECSA/criminal episode issue was decided against the defense in State v. Dulfu, although the Oregon Supreme Court has granted review.
The good news appears to be limited to (4)(b).
That said, most of the remaining issues have yet to be addressed by the COA. But virtually all of the undecided issues are working their way through the appellate courts, so there is reason to think we'll get answers in 2018.
I have often noted that ambiguity in the law favors the state. If a defendant honestly can't tell whether or not crimes arise out of the same criminal episode, then he won't know the maximum sentence he might fact. Consequently, his decision to go to trial or accept a plea offer must factor in the worst case scenario, i.e., the sentence he might get if the court finds multiple criminal episodes. The prosecutor has little reason to make the same calculation from the other side. Maybe she'll make the offer marginally better because the defendant has a plausible claim to one criminal episode, but the consequences of being wrong -- arguing for multiple criminal episodes and losing -- is going to be of minimal significance.
This situation plays out in various ways every date in the criminal justice system. I don't include situations where the defendant doesn't know if he's going to be found guilty or not. But I do include situations where there is a genuine dispute over whether -- if the defendant actually did the acts he's accused of -- he's actually guilty of an offense, because there is some ambiguity over what the law actually says.
But there is one situation where the ambiguity in the law provides a potentially huge upside to the defendant. And that is when he has a slightly outside-the-box type of legal argument that could result in dismissal of most or all of the charges, and because of the relative novelty of the argument, there is no clear case law one way or the other. Because it's a longshot, the prosecutor scoffs and gives it little weight, generally assuming -- with good reasons -- that most judges are highly risk-adverse and aren't likely to grant the defendant's motion.
Not an unusual fact situation described here. From fourthamendment.com:
Defendant was a passenger in a car stopped for expired tags. She should have been allowed to keep her purse when she got out of the car. Instead, she was told to leave it in the car, and then it was searched in the car when the car was impounded. Suppressed. State v. Campbell, 2017 Iowa App. LEXIS 777 (Aug. 2, 2017).
When defendant consented to a search of her car, she attempted to remove her purse, and the officer had to honor that as a limitation on the consent. He ordered her to put it back, and that was mere acquiesce to a claim of authority. State v. Greub (Aug. 29, 2017).
The opinion is here.
- It is unlikely that the Government would argue it is constitutionally reasonable to search a home based on a warrant previously issued for a crime the homeowner had already been convicted of, and to also direct the searchers to look for evidence of offenses not named in the warrant. In this case, however, the Government asserts the right to do just that, but for a portable hard drive (thumb drive) rather than a home. We recognize the differences between a home and a thumb drive and the unique challenges in applying the Fourth Amendment in a digital context. See generally Josh Goldfoot, The Physical Computer and the Fourth Amendment, 16 Berkeley J. Crim. L. 112 (2011); Orin S. Kerr, Searches and Seizures in a Digital World, 119 Harv. L. Rev. 531 (2005). But the Fourth Amendment compels us to treat them the same in this case. We hold that the military judge did not abuse his discretion in concluding that evidence of an offense not named in the warrant was outside the scope of the warrant and must be suppressed. Furthermore, based on the facts found by the military judge, we conclude, as a matter of law, that the search was not constitutionally reasonable under the particular circumstances of this case. Accordingly, we affirm the United States Army Court of Criminal Appeals (ACCA).
Another noteworthy quote:
Notable Colorado opinion. Headline at fourthamendment.com reads: CO: In this recreational MJ use state, a dog sniff is a “search,” and a positive alert isn’t PC a crime is occurring