In another important Fourth Amendment case, the Supreme Court held today that the mere fact that a driver in lawful possession or control of a rental car is not listed on the rental agreement will not defeat his or her otherwise reasonable expectation of privacy.

The Government’s contention that drivers who are not listed on rental agreements always lack an expectation of privacy in the car rests on too restrictive a view of the Fourth Amendment’s protections. However, a car thief does NOT have an expecation of privacy in a stolen car. The Supreme Court left open for argument on remand the Government’s argument that one who intentionally uses a third party to procure a rental car by a fraudulent scheme for the purpose of committing a crime is no better situated than a car thief. That issue is not decided.

Lots of interesting parts to this opinion, and definitely worth a read.

During the trial in this matter, an alternate juror briefly participated in deliberations with 11 sworn members of the jury while the 12th sworn juror was absent from the jury room. The Supreme Court denied the defendant’s motion for a mistrial. The court then questioned each of the jurors about their ability to disregard the prior deliberations and start deliberations anew; each juror assured the court that he or she could do so. The court then denied the defendant’s renewed motion for a mistrial, and instructed the jurors that all deliberations that had taken place with the alternate juror were a nullity which must be disregarded by the jury, and that deliberations were to start “fresh, anew, ab initio, from the beginning.” After deliberations, the jury returned a verdict of guilty.

The Second Department reversed, finding that the State Constitutional guarantee of 12 jurors was violated, as was CPL 270.30 and 310.10, which prohibit a deliberating jury to have contact with anyone and prohibit an alternate juror from deliberating.

This is a case in which the Defendant, a non-citizen, pled guilty to an aggravated felony and was not advised that he could be subject to deportation. When he found out, he moved to vacate his conviction. The Nassau County Court denied the motion.

The Second Department held that the motion was sufficient to raise an issue of fact that required a hearing.

In a groundbreaking case, the United States Supreme Court held today that when a client makes it plain that the objective of “his defence” is to maintain innocence of the charged criminal acts and pursue an acquittal, his lawyer must abide by that objective and may not override it by conceding guilt. To do otherwise is to render ineffective assistance of counsel.

Roberty McCoy was charged with murdering his estranged wife’s mother, stepfather, and son. McCoy pleaded not guilty to first degree murder, insisting that he was out of State at the time of the killings and that corrupt police killed the victims when a drug deal went wrong. Although he vociferously insisted on his innocence and adamantly objected to any admission of guilt, the trial court permitted his counsel to argue that McCoy was guilty but his mental state prevented him from forming the criminal intent to kill. McCoy testified in his own defense, insisting he was innocent and maintaining his alibi. He was convicted, and at the penalty phase, his lawyer again argued he was guilty and asked the jury to spare his life. He was sentenced to death.

He sought a new trial, but the trial court and the Louisiana Supreme Court both held his lawyer had the authority to concede guilt as a legitimate trial strategy.

The Supreme Court said otherwise.

Read the opinion here:

The Impact of a Felony Conviction

Being convicted of a felony is a serious event with lifelong consequences. Becoming a convicted felon will have a long lasting impact on a person’s life and results in the loss of basic civil rights such as the right to vote, the right to sit on a jury, and the right to own, possess, or use a firearm.

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Rule 35

Correcting or Reducing a Federal Sentence: Rule 35

Correcting or reducing a federal sentence isn’t the same thing as a criminal appeal or a post-conviction relief motion even though technically the means to reduce or correct a sentence in the federal system falls under Title VII Post-Conviction Procedures of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. More specifically Rule 35 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure authorizes a few different ways to correct or reduce a federal sentence.

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Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure

The Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure govern all appellate proceeding in the State of Florida. Whether the appellate proceeding is criminal appeal, civil appeal or administrative appeal the Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure control. The Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure are designed to be the supreme rule set and, specifically in Rule 9.010, explain that these rules take precedence and supersede any conflicting statutes and any conflicting rule of procedure found in Florida Rules of Judicial Administration 2.130.

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Spousal Privilege

Can My Spouse Testify Against Me At My Criminal Trial?

Spousal privilege (It is also frequently defined as marital privilege or husband-wife privilege) is a term used in the law of evidence to describe two separate privileges: the communications privilege and the testimonial privilege. Both types of privilege are based on the policy to promote marital felicity, and Under the Federal Rules of Evidence, in a criminal case the prosecution cannot compel the defendant’s spouse to testify against him. Also refer as spousal immunity, marital privilege or spousal testimonial privilege.

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