Thursday, July 01, 2010

June 22 to 29: Summaries of Published Opinions

Here are our AFPDs' summaries from June 22 to June 29, 2010. (The pic is to bring to the blog the warmth of summer and the good times I hope we'll all enjoy this holiday weekend!)


State Habeas


Petitioner-Appellant appealed the judgment of the district court denying his petition for a writ of habeas corpus. After a jury trial, a Michigan state court convicted him of carjacking and receiving and concealing stolen property (over a value of $20,000.00). The Michigan Court of Appeals denied his application for leave to appeal for lack of merit. The Michigan Supreme Court likewise denied his application for leave to appeal. Upon his filing a petition for habeas relief, the district court concluded that the state court correctly applied clearly established federal law in finding the evidence presented was sufficient to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. And the performance of trial counsel in refusing to call an exculpatory witness was not constitutionally deficient.

The Court of Appeal reversed the decision of the district court and remanded the case to the district court with instructions to grant a conditional writ of habeas corpus, which was to give the State of Michigan 120 days within which to provide the petitioner with a new trial or, failing that, to release him.

The Court did not reach the ineffective assistance of counsel claim, finding that the evidence failed to support a conviction on the hijacking count even under an aider-and-abettor theory.



Appeal of Crack Resentencing Request


The Court applied Dillon.

Judge Merritt concurred in the result only, but questioned the reasoning of the Supreme Court’s decision in light of 18 U.S.C. 3661 (no limit on sentencing info).



Direct Appeal


Defendant was in the Army and took a live rocket home from Fort Campbell and kept it beside the central vacuuming unit in his garage for over four years. He conceded that he did not have the authority to do so.

After his then-wife alerted the police, he was convicted of possessing an unregistered firearm, in violation of 26 U.S.C. §§ 5861(d) and 5871. He appealed, arguing that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to support a finding of guilt. The crux of the argument was that, because he was a soldier, the rocket was always in the possession and under the control of the United States. This contention failed and the Court affirmed.

The Circuit Court found that the defendant’s claimed exception to the statute failed because his "possession" of the rocket in question was unauthorized by the government in any way since no one knew he had it.


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