April, 2019

Kansas: Defendant’s Due Process Rights
Were Violated Where He Received a
More Severe Sentence Because
of a Successful Appeal

Defendant pled guilty to aggravated sodomy with an agreement that he would receive downward departure sentences for not putting the victim through a trial. The appellate court remanded for resentencing because the trial court failed to state a reason for one of the departures. On remand the victim’s family requested that defendant be given more prison time because they were required to come back to court, the prosecutor agreed, and the court sentenced defendant to 12 extra months in prison. The Kansas Supreme Court reversed finding that where defendant’s successful appeal was the only reason articulated for the increase in prison time defendant had shown actual vindictiveness and a violation of his due process rights requiring resentencing. Although the court was confident that the trial court had no ill will towards defendant, subjective malevolence was not required. State v. Brown, (03-01-2019, WL 988430), https://law.justia.com/cases/kansas/supreme-court/2019/113751.html.

Indiana: Counsel Was Ineffective for
Failing to Inquire into
Defendant’s Citizenship Status Prior to
Advising Defendant to Plead Guilty to a
Deportable Offense

Defendant pled guilty to two misdemeanors for stealing less than $20 worth of goods from Walmart not knowing that this was a deportable offense. The trial and appellate court denied defendant relief, but the Indiana Supreme Court reversed holding that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to ask defendant about his citizenship and for marking “N/A” next to the citizenship advisement box on the guilty plea advisement form. The record supported the conclusion that defendant was prejudiced and would have gone to trial had he known he would be deported for pleading guilty. Bobadilla v. State, (03-05-2019, WL 1033622), https://law.justia.com/cases/indiana/supreme-court/2019/19s-pc-128.html.

South Carolina: Defendant Did Not Waive
His Right to Counsel by Failing to Call the
Public Defender’s Office

The South Carolina Supreme Court reversed the trial court’s denial of defendant’s post-conviction motion, finding that defendant did not waive his right to counsel by failing to contact the public defender’s office to obtain representation as directed. Because the plea court did not mention the dangers of self-representation to defendant, and defendant's prior convictions and violations of probation and parole were an insufficient basis on which to find defendant actually understood the dangers of self-representation, defendant was entitled to remand for a new trial. Osbey v. State, ___ S.E.2d ___ (03-06-2019, WL 1053251).

New Jersey: Incarcerated Defendant
Did Not Waive His Right Against
Self-Incrimination Where He Was
Questioned Prior to Being Informed that
Charges Were Filed Against Him

Defendant entered a guilty plea to attempted murder conditioned on the appeal of the denial of his suppression motion. The New Jersey Supreme Court reversed the trial court, holding that the State failed to meet its burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant’s waiver of his right against self-incrimination was knowing and intelligent where: (1) during the police officers’ questioning of defendant while defendant was incarcerated in relation to other offenses, the officers did not inform defendant fully at the outset that charges had been filed against him; (2) defendant was not informed of what charges had been filed against him until after he waived his right against self-incrimination; (3) defendant appeared shocked and surprised when informed of charges having been filed against him; and (4) defendant instructed the officers that he wanted to speak with a lawyer after he learned that charges had been filed. New Jersey v. Vincenty, ___ A.3d ___ (03-11-2019, WL 1104543).

Massachusetts: Officers Lacked Probable
Cause for Strip Search Where They Had No
Indication That Defendant Had
Contraband or Weapons in His Groin Area

The Massachusetts Supreme Court affirmed the grant of defendant’s motion to suppress where officers lacked probable cause for a strip search of defendant after arresting him based on alleged street-level drug distribution. Although defendant had taken a fighting stance when officers approached and had pulled away from officers prior to a frisk, there was no affirmative indication that defendant was secreting contraband or weapons in his groin area, and the officers had nothing more than a generalized suspicion that defendant had drugs on his person. Commonwealth v. Agogo, ___ N.E.3d ___ (03-15-2019, WL 1212940).

Second Circuit: Defendants’ Speedy Trial
Rights Were Violated by Almost 6 Year
Delay Between Accusation and Trial

Originally, three defendants were indicted by a one-count indictment for Hobbs Act conspiracy, and thereafter a superseding nine-count indictment was asserted against five defendants. The government then deliberated for nearly three years before deciding not to seek the death penalty against the three defendants. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court holding that the delay of nearly five years and eight months between accusation and trial violated the Sixth Amendment speedy trial rights of the three defendants where the period of delay was extraordinary and was presumptively prejudicial, defendants suffered anxiety from the government’s deliberation over whether to argue that defendants should be sentenced to death, and defendants repeatedly requested a speedy trial. United States v. Black, ___ F.3d ___ (CA 2, 03-18-2019, WL 1233214).