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Articles by David Reutter

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Vacates Guilty Plea Conditioned on Waiving Right to Pursue Claim Racial Bias Infected Jury Deliberations

Washington Supreme Court: Prosecutor’s War on Drugs Comments Denies Fair Trial

The Court’s opinion was issued in an appeal brought by Gregg A. Loughbom. He was convicted by a jury in October ...

Arizona Supreme Court: Stipulated Plea Agreement Cannot Bar Review of Illegal Sentence

The Court’s August 12, 2020, opinion was issued in an appeal by Demitres Robertson. She was ...

Court of Appeals of Maryland Clarifies Issues Involving Plea Agreements and Sentence Modifications Under Justice Reinvestment Act

Futuristic Crime Predictor Targets, Monitors People Across Florida County

Sixth Circuit: Michigan Courts’ Procedure Allowing Appellate Counsel’s Withdrawal Unconstitutional

by David M. Reutter

The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit held that Michigan courts unreasonably applied clearly established federal law by allowing a defendant’s appellate counsel to withdraw and failing to appoint replacement counsel. The Court ordered a new first-tier appeal in Michigan courts.

The Court’s August 14, 2020, opinion was issued in an appeal brought by Michigan prisoner Daniel M. Pirkel. He was charged with 17 crimes that occurred in a few short months in 2007. At a January 24, 2008, plea hearing, Pirkel expressed reservations about entering a plea. The plea court allowed him 90 minutes to read the police reports. When it reconvened, two charges were dropped, and Pirkel pleaded no contest to the remaining charges. The court accepted the pleas after a colloquy into knowingness and voluntariness.

Prior to sentencing, Pirkel wrote the court to express that he was “in no way comfortable with anything pertaining to my case such as my plea, my lawyers, and my mental state.” The court said it had reviewed the tape of the plea hearing and would not allow withdrawal of the plea. It then sentenced Pirkel to 20 to 50 years on two counts of ...

Study Exposes Public Defender Plea Negotiation Practices and Suggests New Negotiation Theory

A major tenet of negotiation theory is the claim that attorneys bargain in the “shadow of trial,” which focuses on the possible outcomes of a trial and sentencing. The study’s authors found that many attorneys operate in what the authors call the “shadow of the client” theory. Attorneys who operate in that shadow focus on the wants and needs of the client.

Over 90% of criminal cases are resolved through a plea bargain. The study under review here is the first look into the “nuts and bolts of plea bargaining.” It provides great insight into how attorneys prepare to bargain, and the priorities and backgrounds that lead attorneys to operate in one of the so-called shadows. It also tested the attorneys’ self-declared negotiation goals against their actual practices.

The authors — Ronald F. Wright, Jenny Roberts, and Betina Wilkenson — began by ...

Maryland Court of Appeals Announces Reasonableness Standard in Providing Advice of Rights to Non-English Speaking Drivers

Before the Court was a petition for writ of certiorari filed by Walter Elenils Portillo Funes (Portillo), who was found guilty by a jury of driving under the influence of alcohol, driving while impaired by alcohol, and driving while under the influence of alcohol per se.

The charges stemmed from an October 14, 2018, incident in which Montgomery County Police Officer Devon Sharkey saw a pickup truck stopped in the right-most lane of a road. Portillo was in the running truck “slumped over the wheel, apparently not awake.”

An open can of beer was in the console, and Portillo gave off “a consistent strong odor of alcohol beverage” and had “bloodshot watery eyes.” It soon became apparent English was not Portillo’s primary language. An interpreter was not available. Portillo failed a field sobriety test.

At the police station before conducting a chemical breath ...

Seventh Circuit: Rehaif Creates Defense and Invalidates Defendant’s Guilty Plea

Robert Triggs was indicted in May 2016 under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(9), which prohibits firearm possession by persons convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence, by a federal grand jury. That conviction stemmed from a 2008 misdemeanor battery conviction that arose from a dispute with his girlfriend.

The weapons charge resulted from a home weapons check by Tomah, Wisconsin, that police conducted after Triggs’ son and other students made violent social media threats against a teacher. Police found three hunting rifles in the living room of Triggs’ home. He moved to dismiss the indictment, raising an as-applied Second Amendment challenge to the prosecution. He principally argued the predicate conviction was more than 10 years old, but he also asserted mitigating circumstances such as his personal characteristics.

The judge denied the motion. Triggs entered a guilty plea, reserving the right to appeal the Second Amendment issue. He was sentenced to 18 months’ probation. On appeal, he raised ...

Second Circuit: Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act Applies on Per-Offender, not Per-Count Basis

Before the Court was the appeal of Paul Haverkamp. He exchanged over 400 messages on the ...



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