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OT 09

U.S. v. O’Brien, USSC No. 08-1569, 5/24/10 § 924(c)(1)(B)(ii), which exposes a person convicted of possessing, using or carrying a machinegun during certain federal crimes to a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years is an offense element subject to proof beyond reasonable doubt at trial rather than a penalty enhancer provable by mere preponderance of… Read More

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U.S. v. Marcus, USSC No. 08-1341, 5/24/10 … (A)n appellate court may,in its discretion, correct an error not raised at trial only where the appellant demonstrates that (1) there is an “error”; (2) the error is “clear or obvious, rather than subject to reasonable dispute”; (3) the error “affected the appellant’s substantial rights, which in… Read More

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U.S. v. Comstock, USSC No. 08-1224, 5/17/10 The federal scheme for detaining the equivalent of ch. 980 sexually violent persons beyond release date from federal prison, 18 U.S.C. § 1848, is a valid exercise of Congressional authority under the Necessary and Proper clause. In reaching this conclusion, the Court “assume(s), but we do not decide… Read More

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Graham v. Florida, USSC No. 08-7412, 5/17/10 In sum, penological theory is not adequate to justify life without parole for juvenile nonhomicide offenders. This determination; the limited culpability of juvenile nonhomicide offenders; and the severity of life without parole sentences all lead to the conclusion that the sentencing practice under consideration is cruel and unusual… Read More

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Renico v. Lett, USSC No. 09-338, 5/3/10 The state court’s conclusion of manifest necessity for mistrial where the foreperson reported inability to reach unanimity wasn’t unreasonable, hence grant of habeas relief is vacated: … (T)rial judges may declare a mistrial “whenever, in their opinion, taking all the circumstances into consideration, there is a manifest necessity”… Read More

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Padilla v. Kentucky, USSC No. 08-651, 3/31/10 In sum, we have long recognized that the negotiation of a plea bargain is a critical phase of litigation for purposes of the Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel. Hill , 474 U. S., at 57; see also Richardson , 397 U. S., at 770–771. The severity of… Read More

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Habeas Review: Jury Selection Process

Berghuis v. Smith, USSC No. 08-1402, 3/30/10 Defendants have Sixth Amendment right to impartial jury drawn from fair cross section of community. To establish prima facie violation of this “fair-cross-section,” requirement, a defendant must prove that: (1) a group qualifying as “distinctive” (2) is not fairly and reasonably represented in jury venires, and (3) “systematic… Read More

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Thaler v. Haynes, USSC No. 09–273, 2/22/10 (per curiam) Nothing in Supreme Court caselaw clearly requires “that a demeanor-based explanation for a peremptory challenge must be rejected unless the judge personally observed and recalls the relevant aspect of the prospective juror’s demeanor.” In other words, there’s no requirement that the judge have been present during… Read More

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