Skip navigation
PYHS - Header

Criminal Legal News: March, 2024

Issue PDF
Volume 7, Number 3

In this issue:

  1. Understanding Fusion Centers (p 1)
  2. Unconscious Bias: Facial Features Can Influence Life-or-Death Decisions in Verdicts (p 11)
  3. LexisNexis Aids Customs and Border Patrol to Flaunt Fourth Amendment (p 11)
  4. Lung Float Test: Junk Science Used to Convict Women of Murder (p 12)
  5. Watchlisted: You’re Probably Already on a Government Extremism List (p 14)
  6. Studying Ant Bites on Cadavers May Advance Criminal Investigations (p 16)
  7. Illinois Supreme Court Announces § 9-1.2(d) Sets Range of Sentences for Intentional Homicide of Unborn Child but Does Not Convert Offense Into Murder for Life-Sentence Enhancement (p 17)
  8. Seventh Circuit Orders District Court to Hold Evidentiary Hearing Where Record Insufficient to Permit Review of State Prisoner’s Section 2254 Habeas Petition Alleging Ineffective Assistance of Counsel (p 18)
  9. Nebraska Supreme Court Announces Probation Search Unlawful When Conducted After Original Term Expired and Before Hearing on Extending Term (p 19)
  10. Pennsylvania Supreme Court: Failure to Disclosure Mental Health Report Showing Key Witness Was a Sociopath Constitutes Brady Violation That Prejudiced Defendant (p 20)
  11. Audit Finds LAPD’s Frivolous Use of Helicopters Flunks Cost/Benefit Analysis (p 21)
  12. The Supreme Court’s Forensic Follies (p 22)
  13. Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Announces Correct Computation of Time for Purposes of Determining When Statute of Limitations Has Run for Returning Indictment (p 23)
  14. Research Paper Reveals Laypeople Have Insufficient Understanding of False Confessions by Examining Prior Research Based on Surveys and Mock Juries (p 24)
  15. Preliminary Analysis of Recidivism Data After Three Years Under First Step Act Is Promising but Inconclusive (p 28)
  16. California Court of Appeal: Petitioner Has Constitutional Right to Be Present at Hearing to Determine Facts Surrounding Felony Murder Charges for Possible Resentencing Under § 1172.6 (p 28)
  17. Interactive Lineups Are a Promising New Tool to Improve Accuracy of Suspect Identification by Eyewitnesses (p 29)
  18. New York Court of Appeals Reverses Conviction Because Testifying Criminalist Not Shown to Have Requisite Involvement in DNA Testing Process and Provides Guidance to Avoid Future Sixth Amendment Confrontation Clause Violations (p 30)
  19. Fourth Circuit: Defendant Entitled to Discovery and Evidentiary Hearing on § 2255 Petition to Withdraw Guilty Plea Because It Was Not Knowingly and Voluntarily Made (p 31)
  20. First Circuit: Miranda Waiver Not Valid Where Interrogating Officer Answered ‘No’ to Defendant’s Question — ‘None of this can be used against me, can it?’ (p 33)
  21. The Potential for Soil Dust Analysis in Forensics (p 33)
  22. Oregon Supreme Court Announces ‘Escape Clause’ of Postconviction Relief Statute’s SOL Applies to Severe Mental Impairments During Limitations Period (p 35)
  23. California Court of Appeal Reverses Denial of Full Resentencing Under SB 483 (p 36)
  24. ‘How The Government Created a Terrorist’: FBI-Manufactured Crimes Reveal Urgent Need for Reforms (p 37)
  25. Improvements to Decertification Procedure for Law Enforcement Officers Guilty of Excessive Force Urgently Needed (p 38)
  26. Minnesota Supreme Court Holds Prosecutor’s Repeated Statements During Closing Arguments That Defendant ‘No Longer Has Presumption of Innocence’ Constitutes Plain Error, Requiring a New Trial (p 38)
  27. New York Court of Appeals Announces Traffic Stop of Bicyclist Is Seizure Under Both Fourth Amendment and State Constitution Requiring Reasonable Suspicion of Crime or Probable Cause of Traffic Violation (p 40)
  28. Foundations of Firearms Audio Forensics Built by Dr. Robert Maher Will Continue to Be Important Forensic Tool as More Recording Devices Are Present at Crime Scenes (p 43)
  29. Amazon Ring Curbs Police Access to Doorbell Camera Footage—But Privacy Concerns Remain (p 43)
  30. FBI Searches of NSA Data Extended Until April, Despite Admission of Unconstitutionality (p 44)
  31. Suspicion of Government Surveillance Increasing (p 44)
  32. Cops’ Sky-High Hopes (p 45)
  33. DEA and Police Use Pretense of Consent Searches to Effectively Steal Cash From Airport Travelers (p 46)
  34. A Legal Argument Against Government Purchase of Location Data (p 48)
  35. North Carolina Supreme Court: Outstanding Warrant for Driver Who Fled Accident Scene Does Not Authorize Inventory Search of Disabled Vehicle (p 49)
  36. News in Brief (p 50)
  37. Cops Just Love Secret Metadata Collection (p 50)

Understanding Fusion Centers

by Michael Dean Thompson

Introduction

After 9/11, authorities determined the event was possible due to a failure of the various intelligence agencies to communicate with each other and share their information, data, insights, and discoveries. In 2007, Eben Kaplan wrote for the Council on Foreign Relations that a clear example ...

Unconscious Bias: Facial Features Can Influence Life-or-Death Decisions in Verdicts

by Jo Ellen Nott

Imagine a courtroom where a defendant’s fate is being decided. But instead of evidence, jurors rely on an unconscious judgment based on downturned lips or a heavy brow. Scientists at Columbia University have proven that people unfairly believe that those specific facial features mark a person ...

LexisNexis Aids Customs and Border Patrol to Flaunt Fourth Amendment

by Anthony W. Accurso

LexisNexis is known by many of Generation X as the provider of education software, but it is actually a data company that has applied its expertise in the controversial realm of human intelligence, according to a contract with Customs and Border Patrol (“CBP”).

Advocacy group Just ...

Lung Float Test: Junk Science Used to Convict Women of Murder

by David M. Reutter

When a woman has a child while alone that does not survive, authorities may wonder if the child was stillborn or murdered by the mother. Many medical examiners attempt to answer that question by conducting a 17th Century procedure that medical experts say is “highly inaccurate ...

Watchlisted: You’re Probably Already on a Government Extremism List

by John & Nisha Whitehead, The Rutherford Institute—Commentary

“In a closed society where everybody’s guilty, the only crime is getting caught.”—Hunter S. Thompson

 According to the FBI, you may be an anti-government extremist if you’ve:

a) purchased a Bible or other religious materials,

b) used terms like “MAGA” and “Trump,” ...

Studying Ant Bites on Cadavers May Advance Criminal Investigations

by Douglas Ankney

Forensic entomology generally focuses on the activity of blowflies and beetles in estimating the time of death. But Professor Paola Magni of Australia’s Murdoch University is a leading forensic entomologist urging forensic professionals to consider the activity of other insects, including ants.

Magni is the lead author ...

Illinois Supreme Court Announces § 9-1.2(d) Sets Range of Sentences for Intentional Homicide of Unborn Child but Does Not Convert Offense Into Murder for Life-Sentence Enhancement

by Douglas Ankney

The Supreme Court of Illinois held that 720 ILCS 5/9-1.2(d) (West 2006) (“section 9-1.2(d)”) sets the range of sentences available for intentional homicide of an unborn child but does not convert that offense into murder for sentence enhancement purposes and that 730 ILCS 5/5-8-1(a)(1)(c)(ii) (West 2006) (“section ...

Seventh Circuit Orders District Court to Hold Evidentiary Hearing Where Record Insufficient to Permit Review of State Prisoner’s Section 2254 Habeas Petition Alleging Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

by Douglas Ankney

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit made the rare decision to order an evidentiary hearing be held in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana upon finding that the record was insufficient to permit review of Ryan T. McMullen’s 28 U.S.C. ...

Nebraska Supreme Court Announces Probation Search Unlawful When Conducted After Original Term Expired and Before Hearing on Extending Term

by Matthew Clarke

The Supreme Court of Nebraska held that a term of probation cannot be extended beyond its expiration date based on the mere fact that an Information for Revocation of Probation (“IRP”) had been filed and a revocation hearing could not reasonably be scheduled prior to the expiration ...

Pennsylvania Supreme Court: Failure to Disclosure Mental Health Report Showing Key Witness Was a Sociopath Constitutes Brady Violation That Prejudiced Defendant

by Anthony W. Accurso

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania upheld the ruling of a lower court granting a writ of habeas corpus upon finding that the Commonwealth committed a Brady violation when it failed to disclose a mental health report that concluded the only witness for the prosecution was a ...

Audit Finds LAPD’s Frivolous Use of Helicopters Flunks Cost/Benefit Analysis

by Douglas Ankney

An audit released by Los Angeles (“LA”) City Controller Kenneth Mejia revealed that the Los Angeles Police Department’s (“LAPD”) frivolous use of helicopters from the Air Support Division (“ASD”) cost taxpayers far more than any benefits received. The ASD employs more than 90 people and operates over ...

The Supreme Court’s Forensic Follies

by Michael Dean Thompson

The framers of the Constitution attempted to guarantee defendants a fundamentally fair trial. They did so, however, at a time when modern science and the scientific method was in its infancy. For that reason, scientific forensic evaluations and standards were not mentioned, leaving the Supreme Court ...

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Announces Correct Computation of Time for Purposes of Determining When Statute of Limitations Has Run for Returning Indictment

by Douglas Ankney

The Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas explained the proper procedure for computing periods of time for purposes of determining the end date of a statute of limitations (“SOL”) and held that the two-year SOL period for an assault allegedly committed on July 7, 2019, expired on ...

Research Paper Reveals Laypeople Have Insufficient Understanding of False Confessions by Examining Prior Research Based on Surveys and Mock Juries

by David M. Reutter

Research via use of surveys and mock juries leave unexplained the “possible explanations for the often-found lack of adjustment for interrogation tactics reflected in verdicts among mock jurors.” This article summarizes a report that peered into studies by third parties that conducted experiments using these two ...

Preliminary Analysis of Recidivism Data After Three Years Under First Step Act Is Promising but Inconclusive

by Jo Ellen Nott

The First Step Act (“FSA”) is a bipartisan criminal justice bill passed in 2018 to reform federal prisons and sentencing laws to reduce reoffending, decrease the federal prisoner population, and maintain public safety.

The Council on Criminal Justice published the results of an early analysis of ...

California Court of Appeal: Petitioner Has Constitutional Right to Be Present at Hearing to Determine Facts Surrounding Felony Murder Charges for Possible Resentencing Under § 1172.6

by David M. Reutter

The Court of Appeal of California, Fourth Appellate District, held that a prisoner’s constitutional and statutory rights to be personally present at an evidentiary hearing to determine if Senate Bill 1437 prohibits charging him with felony murder were violated. Finding the error was not harmless beyond ...

Interactive Lineups Are a Promising New Tool to Improve Accuracy of Suspect Identification by Eyewitnesses

by Jo Ellen Nott

Wrongful convictions are a troubling aspect of the criminal justice system in the United States. Most experts estimate the rate of falsely convicted prisoners to be between four and six percent.

Studies report that eyewitness misidentification of strangers is the leading cause of wrongful convictions, contributing ...

New York Court of Appeals Reverses Conviction Because Testifying Criminalist Not Shown to Have Requisite Involvement in DNA Testing Process and Provides Guidance to Avoid Future Sixth Amendment Confrontation Clause Violations

by Anthony W. Accurso

The Court of Appeals of New York reversed a case where the People failed to present evidence that the criminalist, who testified as to DNA analysis, had sufficient involvement in the final crucial step of the DNA testing process in which the DNA profile is generated ...

Fourth Circuit: Defendant Entitled to Discovery and Evidentiary Hearing on § 2255 Petition to Withdraw Guilty Plea Because It Was Not Knowingly and Voluntarily Made

by Richard Resch

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit vacated the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland’s order and remanded for discovery and an evidentiary hearing on Kenyon Paylor’s petition to vacate his guilty plea, which alleged his plea was induced by egregious police misconduct ...

First Circuit: Miranda Waiver Not Valid Where Interrogating Officer Answered ‘No’ to Defendant’s Question — ‘None of this can be used against me, can it?’

by Douglas Ankney

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit held that Daniel Donald’s waiver of his rights under Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), was not valid where an interrogating officer answered “No” to Donald’s question: “None of this can be used against me, can it?” ...

The Potential for Soil Dust Analysis in Forensics

by Anthony W. Accurso

Australian forensic scientists, led by Flinders University, have been studying how the chemical and biological analysis of as little as three mg of dust can pinpoint its geographical origin, so it “can be used as key evidence to link back to the scene of a crime.” ...

Oregon Supreme Court Announces ‘Escape Clause’ of Postconviction Relief Statute’s SOL Applies to Severe Mental Impairments During Limitations Period

by David M. Reutter

The Supreme Court of Oregon held that a petitioner’s mental impairments are relevant to whether the escape clause in the statute of limitations applies to postconviction petitions under ORS 138.510.

Matthew Ingle was charged with two counts of second-degree manslaughter and one count of driving under ...

California Court of Appeal Reverses Denial of Full Resentencing Under SB 483

by Matt Clarke

The Court of Appeal of California, Sixth Appellate District, issued an opinion reversing a trial court’s refusal to apply Senate Bill (“SB”) 483 to a previously-remanded sentence. It also held that the trial court was not required to strike a prior serious felony enhancement.

An 86-count indictment ...

‘How The Government Created a Terrorist’: FBI-Manufactured Crimes Reveal Urgent Need for Reforms

by Douglas Ankney

In 2008, snitch Shahed Hussain worked as a paid informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”). Hussain met James Cromitie in the parking lot of a mosque in impoverished Newburgh, New York, where a large Muslim population resides. Cromitie, a small-time drug dealer was broke. Hussain ...

Improvements to Decertification Procedure for Law Enforcement Officers Guilty of Excessive Force Urgently Needed

by Douglas Ankney

In April 2023, Myles Cosgrove was hired by the Carroll County Sheriff’s Department in Kentucky. But about three years earlier, Cosgrove was fired by the Louisville Police Department (“LPD”). Cosgrove had been one of the three officers who fired their guns during the ludicrous early-morning raid that ...

Minnesota Supreme Court Holds Prosecutor’s Repeated Statements During Closing Arguments That Defendant ‘No Longer Has Presumption of Innocence’ Constitutes Plain Error, Requiring a New Trial

by David M. Reutter

The Supreme Court of Minnesota held that the prosecution committed plain error by repeatedly telling the jury during closing arguments that the defendant no longer had the “presumption of innocence,” entitling the defendant to a new trial.

Christian Portillo was charged in 2019 with two counts ...

New York Court of Appeals Announces Traffic Stop of Bicyclist Is Seizure Under Both Fourth Amendment and State Constitution Requiring Reasonable Suspicion of Crime or Probable Cause of Traffic Violation

by Richard Resch

The Court of Appeals of New York suppressed incriminating evidence recovered from a cyclist after police officers initiated a traffic stop of the cyclist, searched him, and recovered a loaded handgun, holding that the same standard for initiating a traffic stop of motor vehicles applies to bicycles ...

Foundations of Firearms Audio Forensics Built by Dr. Robert Maher Will Continue to Be Important Forensic Tool as More Recording Devices Are Present at Crime Scenes

by Jo Ellen Nott

Dr. Robert Maher, electric and computer engineer who has researched and studied gunshot acoustics at the University of Montana, published the results of a two-year study on synchronizing and processing audio recordings of gunshots in 2018. His research was sponsored by a National Institute of Justice ...

Amazon Ring Curbs Police Access to Doorbell Camera Footage—But Privacy Concerns Remain

by Jo Ellen Nott

In a move applauded by privacy advocates, Amazon-owned Ring announced on January 24, 2024, that it will no longer allow police to request doorbell camera footage directly from users through the Request for Assistance (“RFA”) tool on its Neighbors app. However, the company’s broader surveillance practices ...

FBI Searches of NSA Data Extended Until April, Despite Admission of Unconstitutionality

by Anthony W. Accurso

As part of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2024, signed by President Biden on December 22, 2023, Congress has extended the deadline to April 19th to fully re-authorize, or modify, the FBI’s legal authority to search through NSA data collected without a warrant. ...

Suspicion of Government Surveillance Increasing

by Anthony W. Accurso

The concern among Republicans and right-leaning independent voters that federal law enforcement agencies—particularly the FBI—are becoming politicized is driving an increase in the distrust these Americans have that these agencies will abuse access to personal data.

Traditional conservative voters in America have, for decades, reliably supported ...

Cops’ Sky-High Hopes

by Michael Dean Thompson

Drones as a first responder are the latest cop fad in America. They hope that drones will be able to arrive on the scene faster than a patrol officer and provide the lay of the land for arriving cops. Across the country, more than 1,400 police ...

DEA and Police Use Pretense of Consent Searches to Effectively Steal Cash From Airport Travelers

by Anthony W. Accurso

Voluntary consent allows law enforcement to search property without a warrant, and officials in Georgia are using this loophole to locate cash belonging to airport travelers in Atlanta, which is then seized and used to fund more police operations. Lawsuits filed by two comedians has drawn ...

A Legal Argument Against Government Purchase of Location Data

by Anthony W. Accurso

The lack of effective privacy legislation covering the U.S.—combined with the occasional, poorly worded limitations imposed by the courts—has led to the current situation where law enforcement and other government agencies have been purchasing data about U.S. residents on the open market that they would not ...

North Carolina Supreme Court: Outstanding Warrant for Driver Who Fled Accident Scene Does Not Authorize Inventory Search of Disabled Vehicle

by Anthony W. Accurso

The Supreme Court of North ­Carolina held that the warrantless search of a disabled vehicle was not reasonable when officers had the authority to arrest the driver but failed to do so because he fled the scene.

McDowell County Deputy Jesse Hicks and State Highway Patrol ...

News in Brief

Alabama: On January 4, 2024, a grand jury indicted Mac Bailey Marquette, 23, in the murder of Stephen Perkins, 39. Marquette, a former policeman, shot Perkins after he allegedly “brandished a handgun” towards officers of the Decatur Police Department (DPD) during a mistaken truck repo incident. According to Advance Local ...

Cops Just Love Secret Metadata Collection

by Michael Dean Thompson

Policing agencies throughout the country continue to find new ways to secretly surveil Americans. Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, has discovered yet another way the cops are working in the dark to scrutinize the behaviors of every single American. The program was called Hemisphere ...

 

 

PLN Subscribe Now Ad
Advertise here
The Habeas Citebook: Prosecutorial Misconduct Side