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Showing posts from February, 2010

Employee Affidavit Violates Confrontation Clause

In United States v. Norwood, Mr. Norwood was tried in 2009 for possession of crack cocaine for distribution. At trial, the government introduced an affidavit by a state employee claiming there were no wage records for Norwood (as a large amount of cash was found in his home and car). “[T]he court admitted her affidavit as circumstantial evidence that Norwood had no legal source for the large amounts of cash that were found on his person and in his car.” Id. at *2.

The Ninth upheld the conviction. See 555 F.3d 1061 (9th Cir. 2009). The Supreme Court granted, vacated, and remanded the Ninth’s opinion in light of its decision in Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts, 129 S. Ct 2527 (2009). This Norwood decision is the Ninth’s decision on remand.

Norwood alleged that his Sixth Amendment right to confront his accusers was violated when the district court admitted into evidence a written affidavit without requiring the affiant to testify on the stand. The Court noted that the Government conceded tha…

22-Year Sentence for "Millenium Bomber" Deemed Too Light

A federal appeals court last week threw out the 22-year prison sentence imposed in 2005 on Ahmed Ressam, known as the Millennium Bomber, who plotted to set off explosives at Los Angeles International Airport on New Year’s Eve in 1999. The court said the sentence was too light.

A three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, said Mr. Ressam did not deserve the “substantial reduction” in his sentence from the minimum of 65 years in federal sentencing guidelines because he backed out of his agreement to cooperate with investigators.

The court also called for a new trial judge to consider the next sentence, because the federal judge who issued the original decision had already once declined to increase Mr. Ressam’s prison term.

Ressam was detained in Washington state in December 1999 when he tried to smuggle explosives into the U.S. on a ferry from Canada that he intended to use at the Los Angeles airport. After his arrest, Ressam agreed to cooperate wit…

Sex Offenders Fight “Jessica’s Law” Claiming the Residency Restriction is Unconstitutional

On February 1, 2010, the California Supreme Court allowed four registered sex offenders to challenge a state law prohibiting them from residing within 2000 feet of schools, parks, and other places children gather such as churches and playgrounds. The state law, known as “Jessica’s law” was passed by California voters when it appeared on the ballot in 2006 as Proposition 83. By a 5-2 vote, the Court agreed that most other of the provisions of Jessica’s Law were constitutional, including a section allowing the residency requirement to be applied retroactively to offenders convicted before the law was approved by the voters in 2006. This ruling means that all sex offender parolees will have to abide by Jessica’s Law until the residency issue is resolved.

Among the strongest arguments on behalf of the parolees is that implementation of the law is impossible in urban areas, such as San Francisco, where most residential areas are within 2000 feet of a park, school, playground, church or othe…

California Supreme Court Approves of Warrants based only on DNA

The California Supreme Court has authorized arrest warrants that contain only a DNA profile of the suspect (known as "John Doe" arrest warrants). The Court last week upheld the rape conviction of Paul Robinson, who was arrested a month after the six-year statute of limitations expired on the case. In a 5-2 decision, the justices said an arrest warrant without Robinson's name but with his DNA profile issued before the expiration is valid. The Court ruled that a DNA profile is specific enough to justify an arrest warrant.

The case is: People v. Robinson
Ct.App. 3 C044703, Sacramento County, Super. Ct. No. 00F06871