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Birchfield v. North Dakota, USSC No. 14-1468, 2016 WL 3434398 (June 23, 2016), reversing State v. Birchfield, 858 N.W.2d 302 (N.D. 2015); vacating and remanding State v. Beylund, 861 N.W.2d 172 (N.D. 2015); and affirming State v. Bernard, 844 N.W.2d 41 (Minn. 2014); Scotusblog pages: Birchfield, Beylund, Bernard (include links to briefs and commentary)

Three years ago, in Missouri v. McNeely, 133 S. Ct. 1552 (2013), the Court rejected a bright-line rule that police may always conduct a warrantless alcohol test on a motorist they have probable cause to believe is driving drunk, pursuant to the exigent circumstances exception. In these three cases, the Court adopts a bright-line rule that the police may always conduct a warrantless alcohol test on a motorist they have arrested for driving drunk, pursuant to the search incident to arrest exception. But they can only Conduct a test of the motorist’s breath, and not the motorist’s blood. Make sense?
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Richard Mathis v. United States, USSC No. 15-6092, 2016 WL 343440, 579 U.S. ___ (June 23, 2016), reversing United States v. Mathis, 786 F.3d 1068 (8th Cir. 2015); Scotusblog page (includes links to briefs and commentary)

In this decision the Court, by a 5-to-3 vote, reaffirms its long-standing rule that the “categorical approach,” which focuses on the elements of an offense, is to be used in determining whether a prior conviction enhances a federal offender’s sentence under the Armed Career Criminal Act. It also rejects the Government’s argument for an exception to that approach when the defendant is convicted under a statute that lists multiple, alternative factual means of satisfying one of the elements of the offense. While the decision obviously affects federal criminal practice, it may also affect a recent decision of the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Read more


State v. Loomis, which SCOW will soon decide, is being closely watched around the country. The case challenges the sentencing court’s use of an algorithm to predict the defendant’s risk of reoffending. Today’s New York Times discusses Loomis and notes that algorithms also use predictive data to decide which streets to patrol, to compile lists of people most likely to shoot or be shot, and so forth.


State v. Antonio D. Barbeau, 2014AP2876-CR, 6/22/2016, District 2 (recommended for publication); case activity (including briefs)

Barbeau killed his great-grandmother when he was 14 years old, and eventually pled no contest to first-degree intentional homicide, which carries an automatic life sentence. When imposing such a sentence, the court must make a decision as to extended supervision: it can either deny any possibility of ES, or it can set a date at which the person becomes eligible, though such date must occur after the person has served at least 20 years. Wis. Stat. § 973.014(1g). Read more


State v. David L. Vickers, 2015AP1631-CR, 6/22/16, District 2 (not recommended for publication); case activity, including briefs

Vickers, who was convicted of misdemeanor bail jumping and retail theft of a wireless router, filed a §974.06 motion claiming ineffective assistance of counsel because his trial lawyer failed to move for suppression of stolen property found in his car and failed to investigate or call as a witness a co-defendant who later confessed to the theft. The court of appeals here affirms the convcition. Read more


Utah v. Strieff, USSC No. 14-1373, 2016 WL 3369419 (June 20, 2016), reversing State v. Strieff, 357 P.3d 532 (Utah 2015); Scotusblog page (includes links to briefs and commentary)

“This case allows the police to stop you on the street, demand your identification, and check it for outstanding traffic warrants—even if you are doing nothing wrong. If the officer discovers a warrant for a fine you forgot to pay, courts will now excuse his illegal stop and will admit into evidence anything he happens to find by searching you after arresting you on the warrant. ”  –Sotomayor, J., dissenting Read more


Taylor v. United States, USSC No. 14-6166, 2016 WL 3369420, 579 U.S. ___ (June 20, 2016), affirming United States v. Taylor, 754 F.3d 217 (4th Cir. 2014); Scotusblog page (includes links to briefs and commentary)

In a decision that invalidates Seventh Circuit precedent, the Supreme Court holds that to obtain a conviction under the Hobbs Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1951, for the robbery or attempted robbery of a drug dealer, the Government need not show that the drugs that a defendant stole or attempted to steal either traveled or were destined for transport across state lines; instead, it is enough that a defendant knowingly stole or attempted to steal drugs or drug proceeds because, as a matter of law, the market for illegal drugs is “commerce over which the United States has jurisdiction” for purposes of the Hobbs Act. Read more


Waiting on SCOW

The end of the term is near, and SCOW still has 24 decisions to issue. On Point is tracking 8 of those, and they involve some significant criminal law issues.

State v. Loomis: use of COMPAS at sentencing.

State v. Jackson: application of the inevitable discovery doctrine.

State v. Lynch: should SCOW overrule Shiffra/Greene?

State v. Finley: remedy when defendant pleads based on misinformation of the maximum penalty

Singh v. Kemper: whether retroactive application of the law that repealed early release violates ex post facto clause.

State v. McKellips: use of cell phone to facilitate child sex crime

State v. Salas Gayton: whether a defendant may be sentenced more harshly because he is an “illegal alien.”

City of Eau Claire v. Booth: effect of unknown, out-of-state OWI conviction on jurisdiction over OWI first.

Expect decisions on these issues soon. On Point will keep you “posted.”