Fifth Amendment

The Federal Docket

Reed v. Goertz (U.S. Supreme Court, April 2023)

In a 6-3 decision, a majority of the Supreme Court held that the statute of limitations began running on a death row inmate’s claim of insufficient procedural due process when his prior “state litigation ended.” In this case, that was not when the trial court denied his motion for DNA testing of the murder weapon, but rather when the Texas Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s decision.

United States v. Inman (6th Cir. July 2022)

The Sixth Circuit reversed a district court’s order prohibiting the Government from retrying a defendant after a jury acquitted him on false statements but hung on charges of extortion and bribery. The Court concluded that collateral estoppel did not apply because making false statements is not an essential element of either extortion or bribery, and a rational jury could have found the defendant innocent of false statements but guilty of bribery or extortion.

Vega v. Tekoh (U.S. Supreme Court, June 2022)

In a 6-3 opinion, the Supreme Court held that an officer’s interrogation in violation of Miranda does not create a constitutional claim under 42 USC 1983. The Court took a narrow view of Miranda warnings as merely a vehicle to protect other underlying rights, not as an underlying right itself.

Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerta (U.S. Supreme Court, June 2022)

In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court held that the federal government and state government have concurrent jurisdiction to prosecute non-Indians for crimes committed against Indians in Indian country, notwithstanding its recent holding in McGirt v. Oklahoma or Chief Justice Marshall’s 1832 decision in Worcester v. Georgia.

Denezpi v. United States (U.S. Supreme Court, June 2022)

In a 6-3 opinion, the Supreme Court held that the double jeopardy clause does not prohibit subsequent prosecutions under two different codes, here the U.S. Code and the Ute Mountain Ute Code, based on the same underlying conduct. The Court reasoned that the Fifth Amendment prohibits multiple prosecutions for the same “offense,” and offenses are separate if they are defined by separate sovereigns, even if their elements are identical.

Denezpi v. United States (U.S. Supreme Court, June 2022)

In a 6-3 opinion, the Supreme Court affirmed a defendant’s federal conviction, rejecting the defendant’s argument that he could not be prosecuted by the feds after they had already prosecuted him for violations of tribal law based on the same conduct. The Court reasoned that, regardless of the fact that the federal government prosecuted both cases, the offenses being prosecuted were distinct because they were defined by distinct sovereigns–the federal government and the Utes sovereign reservation.

United States v. Starks (10th Cir. May 2022)

The Tenth Circuit reversed a defendant’s conviction where the prosecutor told the jury in closing arguments that the defendant’s right to be presumed innocent was gone after the close of evidence.

Flores-Rivera v. United States (1st Cir. October 2021)

The First Circuit reversed a district court’s order denying defendant’s motion to vacate sentence and conviction under 28 USC 2255. The defendant’s appellate attorney had been ineffective for failure to raise a Brady claim, raised by all of her co-defendants on appeal, based on the government’s failure to disclose material that would have undermined the government witnesses’ credibility. The First Circuit held that “any reasonable attorney would have known of the availability of the Brady claim since the co-defendants all raised it and since trial counsel had preserved the issue by raising it in his motion for new trial.”

Wilber v. Hepp (7th Cir. October 2021)

The Seventh Circuit affirmed the district court’s order vacating the defendant’s conviction after the defendant argued that his due process rights were violated when he was visibly shackled and restrained in a wheelchair with a stun bracelet on his arm during his state trial. The Court held that, even if the restraints were necessary, there was no finding on the record that it was necessary for them to be visible, especially since the defendant’s alleged misconduct mostly took place outside the courtroom and involved “disrespectful” words and gestures outside the presence of the jury. The error was not harmless.

United States v. Brandon Royce Phillips (11th Cir. July 2021)

The Eleventh Circuit affirmed a defendant’s conviction for enticing a minor to produce pornography, holding that the district court did not constructively amend the indictment when it instructed the jury that the government did not have to prove the defendant had knowledge of the victim’s age, as the language in the indictment alleging that the defendant acted “knowingly and intentionally” only applied to the “acts barred in the statute.” Moreover, the Court emphasized that a district court is free to ignore language in the indictment that alleges a “higher mens rea” than the statute requires as “mere surplusage. The Court vacated the defendant’s conviction for possessing child pornography, however, since he had also been convicted of receiving child pornography based on the same conduct, thus violating the Double Jeopardy Clause.

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