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23. Structural error

State v. Decarlos K. Chambers, 2019AP411-CR, petition for review of per curiam opinion granted 9/16/20; case activity (including briefs) Issue presented (derived from Cambers’ petition for review): The State charged Chambers with 1st degree reckless homicide. He maintained that he had not committed the crimes and that was absolutely innocent. He refused all plea offers… Read More

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State v. Duanne D. Townsend, 2019AP787, 6/9/20, District 1 (not recommended for publication); case activity (including briefs) Good news: the court of appeals reversed a circuit court decision denying Townsend’s §974.06 motion without a hearing. Townsend now gets a one on his claims for ineffective assistance of postconviction and trial counsel. Bad news: the court… Read More

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Garza v. Idaho, USSC No. 17-1026, reversing Garza v. State, 405 P.3d 576 (Idaho 2017);  Scotusblog page (includes links to briefs and commentary) This case involved two plea agreements that included clauses stating that Garza waived his right to appeal. After sentencing, Garza told his lawyer that he wanted to appeal, but his lawyer refused… Read More

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State v. C.L.K., 2019 WI 14, reversing an unpublished court of appeals opinion; 2/19/19; case activity (including briefs) The State of Wisconsin petitioned the Milwaukee County Circuit Court to terminate C.L.K.’s parental rights, following which the matter went to trial in due course. After the State rested, the circuit court immediately  decided that Mr. K… Read More

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McCoy v. Louisiana, USSC No. 16 – 8255, 2018 WL 218-617, 5/14/18, reversing and remanding State v. McCoy, 2018 So.3d 535 (La. 2016); SCOTUSblog page (includes links to briefs and commentary). In a 6-3 opinion written by Justice Ginsburg, SCOTUS holds that the Sixth Amendment guarantees a defendant the right to choose the objective of his… Read More

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This new law review article by Daniel Epps examine the subject in depth. Consider this excerpt from the abstract: Judges and commentators sharply disagree about which (and even whether) constitutional errors can be harmless, how to conduct harmless-error when it  analysis applies, and, most fundamentally, what harmless constitutional error even is-what source of law generates… Read More

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State v. C.L.K., 2017AP1414, petition for review of an unpublished court of appeals opinion granted 3/14/18; case activity Issues: 1. Where, during the grounds phase of a TPR trial, the circuit court errs by directing a verdict in favor of the State without giving the respondent an opportunity to present evidence, has the court committed… Read More

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SCOTUS delves into structural error

Weaver v. Massachusetts, USSC No. 16-240, 2017 WL 2674153 (June 22, 2017); affirming Commonwealth v. Weaver, 54 N.E.3d 495 (Mass. 2016); Scotusblog page (including links to briefs and commentary) Members of the public–specifically, Kentel Weaver’s family–were excluded from the overcrowded courtroom during jury selection for his trial. Violations of the Sixth Amendment right to public… Read More

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