September 2019

North Carolina: Affidavit in Support of
Warrant Lacked Probable Cause Where It
Failed to Link Defendant to the Home and
Vehicle Searched

Defendant entered Alford pleas to robbery charges after his motion to suppress was denied. The North Carolina Supreme Court held that the trial court erred when it denied defendant’s motion to suppress evidence from his residence where the affidavit supporting the search warrant failed to connect defendant with the residence that the officers wished to search in any meaningful way beyond the mere fact that he was arrested there and that a vehicle similar to the one used in the robbery was observed in the vicinity of the house at that time. Likewise, beyond stating that defendant fled the scene in the vehicle searched, the affidavit provided no other information whatsoever concerning the vehicle and therefore probable cause for the search of the vehicle was also lacking. State v. Lewis, ___ S.E.2d ___ (08-16-2019, WL 3916730).

Second Circuit: The District Court Erred
When It Imposed an Excessive Amount of
Community Service as a Condition of
Supervised Release

After defendant pled guilty to fraud charges, the district court imposed as a condition of supervised release that defendant perform 695 hours of community service. The Second Circuit vacated this condition finding an abuse of discretion where the sentencing guidelines advise a general limit of 400 hours for the entire term of release, the court’s reasoning was generic and did not provide a sufficient nexus between the service condition and the statutory sentencing factors, the court did not find defendant was in need of any training the community service might provide, defendant’s occupation, which allowed him to provide for his child, was disrupted by the amount of community service required and the probation office had to take on an incremental administrative burden. United States v. Parkins, ___ F.3d ___ (CA 2, 08-19-2019, WL 3884241).

Minnesota: Evidence Was Insufficient to
Support Failure to Register Conviction
Where Defendant Did Not Know His Credit
Card Had Been Declined at Motel

Defendant was convicted of knowingly failing to register as a predatory offender for not registering with local law enforcement authorities within twenty-four hours of leaving his registered primary address, a motel room. The Minnesota Supreme Court held that the evidence was insufficient to support a finding that defendant knew that his living arrangement had ended where defendant paid for the motel room by credit card for months, defendant was not at the motel when the motel attempted to charge defendant for the upcoming week and his credit card was denied, defendant was not in his room when a “boot” was placed on the doorknob that prevented defendant from entering the room or when a note was left on the door about the declined payment, there was no evidence suggesting defendant saw the boot or the note, and defendant was arrested three days after his credit card was declined at the motel. State v. Alarcon, ___ N.W.2d ___ (08-21-2019, WL 3939858).

Eighth Circuit: In Camera Review of
Mental Health Records Required to
Determine Whether Defendant’s
Confrontation Rights Were Violated

Defendant appealed his sexual assault conviction by jury arguing that he was denied his confrontation rights when the district court allowed admission of testimony regarding the complainant’s post-assault diagnosis of PTSD. The Eight Circuit remanded for a in camera review of the mental health records noting that the diagnosis of PTSD tended to substantially bolster the complainant’s accusation of a sexual assault in this pure credibility contest. The court noted that the records might not contain a diagnosis of PTSD or that the records may show that other events contributed to the diagnosis, holding that it could not evaluate defendant’s Confrontation Clause claim without some review of the records. United States v. Arias, ___ F.3d ___ (CA 8, 08-26-2019, WL 4009504).