When is a criminal defense lawyer’s performance so compromised that a prosecutor or court should intervene? When is a defendant’s knowing and voluntary waiver of his counsel’s conflicts not enough to cure the problem? These are the silent issues raised by Plunk v. Hobbs, issued July 3, 2013, in which the Eighth Circuit reversed […]
Sex offender treatment programs, among a variety of objectives, focus on reducing deviant sexual arousal and developing healthy attitudes towards sex and relationships. So it’s not just civil libertarians, but also therapeutic professionals, who may have misgivings about a supervised release condition imposed on Steven Fonder upon his conviction for possession and distribution of […]
Open-file discovery may moot specific requests for Brady material, but does not substitute for them. Not all information favorable to the accused is memorialized or contained in the prosecutor’s file. In fact, as we learned in the prosecution of the late Sen. Ted Stevens, some agents and prosecutors may deliberately refrain from memorializing the […]
Most change of venue motions involve a defendant trying to escape into anonymity not from it. One would expect this to be especially true in a case involving child pornography charges, but perhaps in a reflection of how punitive the law has become in this area, Dustin Worthey sought to invoke “the public policy […]
Some of the thorniest issues under the Sentencing Guidelines (and also the most devastating in terms of sentencing exposure) involve analyzing a defendant’s prior criminal history. In United States v. Roblero-Ramirez, issued on June 17, 2013, and in the context of a rare rejection of an Anders brief, the Eighth Circuit scrutinized a 16-level […]
So often, the federal criminal defendant’s problem is not his or her most current case, but rather the impact of prior ones. This is starkly presented in several recent cases affirmed by the Eighth Circuit: United States v. Adams, issued June 11, 2013; United States v. Capps, issued on June 11, 2013; United States […]
As the recent controversy over the collection of DNA samples from arrestees underlines, compelled intrusion into an individual’s body implicates profound expectations of privacy and security. Hence, the Supreme Court’s establishment in Sell v. United States of stringent conditions before a defendant may be medicated involuntarily for trial competence purposes – instances, the Court concluded, would be “rare.” In United States v. Mackey, issued on June 10, 2013, the Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court’s conclusion that the Sell factors permitted involuntary medication of a defendant facing charges under SORNA for failing to register as a sex offender. Notably, the only expert testimony presented in the case came from professionals employed by the Bureau of Prisons, and the case illustrates the uphill battle a defendant faces without an expert – and the resources that typically implies – in his corner.