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United States v. Jason Harriman (8th Cir. August 2020)

The Eighth Circuit upheld a defendant’s conviction of murder-for-hire, denying entrapment as an affirmative defense under the de novo standard of review because the defendant did not produce sufficient evidence of inducement. The Court also affirmed the district court’s denial of motions for new counsel and new trial, holding the proper standard of review is for abuse of discretion.

Andrus v. Texas (U.S. Supreme Court, June 2020)

In a per curiam opinion, a majority on the Supreme Court vacated a defendant’s death sentence and held that his trial counsel was constitutionally ineffective based on his failure to perform mitigation investigation, putting up mitigating evidence that backfired by bolstering the state’s case, failing to investigate the state’s aggravating evidence, and failing to present significant mitigating evidence that he could have discovered.

United States v. Sharon Gandy et al. (6th Cir. June 2019)

The Court held there was sufficient evidence to convict the defendants of identify theft and mail fraud. The Court also rejected the argument that the defendants received ineffective assistance from conflicted counsel after the defendants filed bar complaints against them. The Court held that the defendants failed to show that their attorneys had a conflict of interest, let alone were ineffective, since “the state-bar grievances did not create conflicting obligations” and thus did not put the attorneys in a position to have to choose one interest over another.

United States v. Sergio Murillo (4th Cir. June 2019)

The Court vacated the defendant’s sentence and conviction after finding that he received ineffective assistance of counsel when trial counsel advised him that his plea would only trigger his possible deportation, where deportation was actually mandatory and the evidence reflected that the defendant would not have pleaded guilty if he knew deportation was mandatory. The Court added that the boilerplate language int he plea agreement indicating that deportation was mandatory was not dispositive.

United States v. Alicia Norman

United States v. Alicia Norman, et al, No. 17-3070 (D.C.C. June 11, 2019) ISSUES: Criminal Procedure, Pleas, Ineffective Assistance of Counsel, Sentencing Guidelines On an appeal from a bribery and marijuana distribution case, the Court rejected the defendants’ numerous allegations of error except to the extent it held that one of the defendant’s had raised …

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Michael Wade Nance v. Warden (11th Cir. April 2019)

Reviewing a petitioner’s § 2254 motion, the Court held that the state court’s rejection of petitioner’s ineffective claim was objectively reasonable since trial counsel’s decision to refrain from presenting certain mitigation evidence at death penalty sentencing was a strategic decision. The Court also held that the state court did not go against clearly established federal law in holding that the trial court did not err in requiring defendant to wear a stun belt under his clothes because the Supreme Court has only established that requiring visible restraints is prejudicial.

Sumnar Brewster v. Gary Hetzel (11th Cir. January 2019)

The Court reversed the district court’s denial of petitioner’s § 2254 motion, finding that petitioner received ineffective assistance of counsel when trial counsel failed to object or move for a mistrial after the court coerced a deadlocked jury into reaching a verdict. In response to reports that a lone juror was holding out, the trial court issued a formal Allencharge, three additional instructions to continue deliberating, and removed all of the reading material from the jury room after hearing that the holdout juror was doing crossword puzzles.

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