Ineffective Assistance of Counsel Claim Rejected.

In the following summary of a recent federal appellate decision, the U.S. Court of a Appeals for the Ninth Circuit denied an appeal of a motion for reconsideration of a motion to withdraw a plea based on ineffective assistance of counsel. In denying the appeal, the Ninth Circuit found no ineffective assistance of counsel because defendant truly did commit money laundering, so his claim that his attorney did not properly explain a term within the statute really made no difference. To read more about this appeal and money laundering in general, please click on the following link –

Habeas Relief and Good Cause under Rhines v. Webber

The following case summary describes a case where ineffective assistance of counsel (IAC) of prior counsel can constitute good cause to permit a stay under Rhines v. Weber of a federal petition for writ of habeas corpus presenting both exhausted and unexhausted state court claims on a state court conviction. The showing of IAC, however, must be strong and there must be a reasonable chance of prevailing on the unexhausted state court claims. To read more about this case, please click on the following link –

COVID-19 and the Federal Court Speedy Trial Act

The federal Speedy Trial Act requires defendant be afforded the opportunity for trial 70 days after his first appearance in court or after the date the indictment is filed, whichever is later. However, with the social distancing and public safety risks associated with having jurors together for trial, certain delays can be imposed by the judge “in the ends of justice.” Other times, the U.S. may ask for a delay of trial, which in the following summary, the judge denied. The case was ultimately dismissed by the judge and the U.S. Appealed under the Speedy Trial Act “ends of justice” ground. To read how the U.S. Ninth Circuit ruled on this, please click on the following link –

Federal Sentencing When State Court Intent to Sell?

A prior state court conviction for possession with intent to sell can be considered in federal sentencing as a crime of drug trafficking, which will lead to a sixteen-level offense level increase for sentencing. This can add years to the sentence, however, not all possession with intent to sell offenses meet the federal definition of trafficking, so it is critical to look closely at how the statute is stated. The following summary of a recent Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling exemplifies this process. To read more about this, please click on the following link –

Unavailable Witness: Reading Prelim Hearing Transcript

While the Sixth Amendment guarantees the accused the right to confront a witness being offered against him or her, meaning to question and cross-examine that witness in person, face to face, what if the witness has died since the crime? Does that mean the case is dismissed? No. What if the witness, before dying, testified at the preliminary hearing and defendant had the opportunity to cross-examine him or her then? Can the transcript of that hearing be read at trial? To read about his issue, please click on the following link –

When Are Cops Entitled to Qualified Immunity?

Police officers are not protected from civil liability for their conduct as a police officer, for example for an illegal search and seizure, coercive questioning, causing injuries to a suspect, filing a false police report, etc., when the conduct “shocks the conscience.” This standard naturally depends upon the legal background and understanding of the evaluator of the conduct, so we would prefer a more objective standard. Nonetheless, to read a summary of a case where no such conduct was found, please click on the following link –

Propensity Evidence Introduced in Child Abuse Case

It may seem inherently unfair and unduly prejudicial for a judge to permit admission of propensity evidence from a prior event in a case to prove certain conduct in a pending case, however, if Evidence Code § 352 analysis is first performed, it can be admitted, as the following summary explains. In the following case involving two defendants and allegations of child abuse, the judge permitted admission of propensity evidence against one defendant as part of the defense of the other defendant to show he was not to blame. To read more about this unusual case, please click on the following link –

Voluntary Manslaughter if Man Shoots Cop 30 Times?

No is the answer to the question posed in the title to this blog entry, at least under the facts of the case involving Maurice Gerard Steskal and his murder of a police officer outside a 7-11. The California Supreme Court, in rejecting Steskal’s argument on his automatic appeal (he was sentenced to death for first degree murder of a cop) that the trial court erred by not instructing the jury on voluntary manslaughter as a lesser-included offense of murder. To read why this was not an error, please click on the following link –

Self-Defense Considering Victim’s Physical Condition

In determining whether self-defense was reasonable under the circumstances, the physical condition of defendant is certainly relevant toward a jury’s finding of whether the use of force was objectively reasonable under the conditions. That physical condition, however, is only relevant if self-defense is used to protect or defend oneself against another person whose relative physical condition, including age and health, is also considered. The following case summary explains how defendant’s physical condition was relevant, but made arguably irrelevant by a prosecutor’s incorrect statement of the law, which the court of appeal discounted as insignificant, we think in error. To read more about this case, please click on the following link –

Is a Heavy Sentence OK Anticipating Appellate Review?

There are judges who perhaps suspect their sentence will be reversed because of an error in a ruling prior to sentencing or in sentencing. This is common, as the law certainly is not a black and white, clear and unambiguous set of rules. However, it is one thing for a judge to feel unsure about a case and another thing to preemptively attempt to preserve a sentence length after appeal by lengthening the sentence to a term that is too long, anticipating it will be reduced on appeal, hopefully to the originally intended length. This is fundamentally wrong. To read a summary about a judge who did this, please click on the following link –