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Case Update

No decisions by SCOTUS this past week, but a couple of interesting 4th Amendment cases on the docket for argument on Monday, one on the fruit-of-the-poisonous tree doctrine, and the other a sequel to Arizona v. GantTolentino v. New York is the former:  Tolentino was stopped by the police, and, after they ran a records check, they found he was driving with a suspended license and arrested him.  Tolentino argued that the initial stop was unlawful -- a point still not addressed -- and that the records check should have been suppressed because of this.  The New York courts disagreed, holding that evidence need not be suppressed when "the only link between improper police activity and the disputed evidence is that the police learned the defendant's name."

In Davis v. US, police had searched Davis' car after his arrest, and the search was upheld in reliance on the Court's 1981 decision in New York v. Belton.  While Davis' case was on appeal, though, the Supreme Court overruled Belton in Arizona v. Gant.  No matter, said the 11th Circuit; the police had relied in good faith on Belton, and so the exclusionary rule didn't apply.  The Court has been expanding the good faith exception to the exclusionary rule since creating it with its 1984 ruling in US v. Leon, and there's sentiment on the Court to do away with the exclusionary rule altogether.  We'll take a look at the oral argument later in the week to see what it portends.

Down in Columbus, rumors abound as to the explanation for why we're three months into the year and have seen less than half a dozen non-disciplinary decisions from the Supreme Court:  four members of the Supreme Court have formed a rock band and are currently embarked on their "No Justice, No Peace" tour; the members are immersed in bracketology as Ohio State enters the NCAA tournament as the No. 1 team in the country.  But wait!  The court has eleven cases scheduled for oral argument on Tuesday and Wednesday!  Half are utility cases, tax appeals, or disciplinary matters, but some of the others are more interesting, and it's better than nothing.

Meanwhile, the courts of appeals continue to toil in relative anonymity, except here...

Civil.  Plaintiff's claim of neck and back injuries sustained in automobile accident are type of injuries requiring expert testimony on causation, says 6th District... 2nd District rejects argument that hospital was entitled to summary judgment in medical malpractice case for nurse's negligence where plaintiff did not individually name nurse in lawsuit... Where purchase agreement required payment of realtor's commission at closing, closing became a condition of payment, and where no closing occurred, no commission was due, 9th District holds... Violation of city ordinance requiring sidewalks to be kept clear of obstructions was negligence per se, precluded application of open and obvious doctrine, 10th District says... Gift card worth $125 and cash gift of $60 for child was sufficient payment of maintenance and support to require father's consent to adoption, 9th District rules... Where husband could not appear at dissolution hearing because he was incarcerated, petition had to be dismissed, says 11th District... 3rd District holds that mother's complete unwillingness to cooperate in visitation justified designation of father as residential parent... 5th District reaffirms its view that tort reform statute requiring bifurcation of compensatory and punitive damages is unconstitutional because it conflicts with civil rules, which take precedence...

Criminal.   Speedy trial time stops running when defendant pleads guilty, does not apply if guilty plea is thereafter vacated, 2nd District holds... Motion to vacate plea made after sentence is announced, but before it's journalized, is still treated as post-sentence motion, says 6th District... Defendant confronted by five police officers in his home, questioned about a burglary; 2nd District holds that this wasn't custodial interrogation requiring Miranda warnings... 8th District rules that filing memorandum in support of jurisdiction with Supreme Court doesn't constitute "pending appeal" so as to deprive lower court of jurisdiction for resentencing... Blocking defendant's vehicle and continuing to hold his drivers license constituted detention of defendant, not consensual encounter, evidence obtained by police after basis for stop dissipated should have been suppressed, 2nd District rules... Double jeopardy doesn't bar retrial when dismissal is based on defect in indictment or complaint, and not on basis "related to factual guilt or innocence," holds 8th District... Defendant can't be convicted of intimidation of witness, even though investigation of crime is in progress, where no criminal proceeding is pending, 2nd District holds...

Talking yourself into prison.  In State v. Bodkins, the 2nd District rejects defendant's claim that his maximum 5-year sentence for trafficking in marijuana was excessive.  (His attorney had asked for community control sanctions, while the state asked for three years.)  The appellate court was as unimpressed with Bodkins' claim to be a "first offender" as was the trial court, given that Bodkins had told the arresting officer that everything he owned had been purchased with money he'd obtained from selling marijuana, and that he hadn't been gainfully employed for at least two years.  To complicate matters, Bodkins was in front of the wrong judge, who'd apparently seen all the "Demon Weed" documentaries; he told Bodkins, "You have distributed a lot of marijuana in our community.  Who knows how many lives have been destroyed because of that."

Unless you count the lives that were destroyed by giving somebody a criminal record over this, I'm guessing the number would be somewhere around zero.


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