The Defender Services Office Training Division furthers the right to effective assistance of counsel by providing training and other resources to attorneys appointed under the Criminal Justice Act.

    May 24, 2016
    Recent Supreme Court Rulings - No Speedy Trial Right at Sentencing, Georgia Prosecutors Violated Batson in Death Case

    Last week the Supreme Court issued its opinion in Betterman v. Montana (No. 14-1457), holding that the right to a speedy trial does not apply at sentencing.  In the majority opinion Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote, "the  [speedy trial] guarantee  protects  the  accused  from arrest or indictment through trial, but does not apply once a  defendant  has  been  found  guilty  at  trial  or  has  pleaded guilty  to  criminal  charges.    For  inordinate  delay  in  sentencing, although  the  Speedy  Trial  Clause  does  not  govern,  a  defendant  may  have  other  recourse,  including,  in appropriate  circumstances,  tailored  relief  under  the  Due Process Clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment."  See this SCOTUSblog post for more on the case. 

    Yesterday the Court also issued its opinion in Foster v. Chatman (14-8349), reviewing Foster's Batson claim and ruling that the prosecution in his death penalty trial were "motivated in substantial part by race" in striking two black prospective jurors.  For more on the case see this SCOTUSblog post

    April 26, 2016
    Supreme Court Grants Cert on Intent Requirement for Bank Fraud Offense, and Jurisdictional Question in Appeal of Deferred Restitution Award

    Yesterday the Supreme Court granted cert in two criminal cases. In  Shaw v. United States  (No. 15-5991) the Court will address whether, in the bank-fraud statute, 18 U.S.C. § 1344, subsection (1)’s “scheme to defraud a financial institution” requires proof of a specific intent not only to deceive, but also to cheat, a bank, as nine circuits have held. 

    In Manrique v. United States (No. 15-7250) the question presented is: Should the Court grant certiorari to resolve the significant division among the circuits concerning the jurisdictional prerequisites for appealing a deferred restitution award made during the pendency of a timely
    appeal of a criminal judgment imposing sentence.

    For more on these cases see this SCOTUSblog post.

    April 21, 2016
    Supreme Court Clarifies Standard of Review When a Sentencing Court Applies an Incorrect Guideline Range

    Yesterday the Supreme Court issued an 8-0 decision in Molina-Martinez v. United States (No. 14-8913), rejecting the Fifth Circuit's  conclusion that "a  defendant seeking appellate review of an unpreserved Guidelines error  [must] make  some  further  showing  of  prejudice  beyond  the  fact  that  the  erroneous,  and  higher,  Guidelines  range  set  the wrong framework for the sentencing proceedings."  As Justice Kennedy explained in the majority opinion, "This is  so  even  if  the  ultimate  sentence  falls  within  both  the  correct  and  incorrect  range.    When  a  defendant  is  sentenced  under  an  incorrect  Guidelines  range—whether  or  not  the defendant’s  ultimate  sentence  falls  within  the  correct range—the error itself can, and most often will, be sufficient  to  show  a  reasonable  probability  of  a  different  outcome absent the error."  For more on the opinion see this SCOTUSblog post by Douglas Berman.

    April 19, 2016
    Johnson Is Retroactive, Supreme Court Declares

    Yesterday the Supreme Court issued a 7-1 opinion in Welch v. United States (No. 15-6418), holding that the rule in Johnson - that ACCA's residual clause is void for vagueness - is substantive and therefore has retroactive effect in cases on collateral review.  For more on the opinion see this SCOTUSblog post.

    April 19, 2016
    Sentencing Commission Amends Guidelines

    On April 15, 2016 the Sentencing Commission voted to amend the sentencing guidelines, making some significant changes in immigration policy, as well as changes to the child pornography, compassionate release, conditions of supervision, and animal fighting guidelines.  For a summary of the amendments, see the USSC's press release.  For the full text, see the Reader-Friendly Version of Amendments.  Absent Congressional action, the amendments will take effect on November 1, 2016. 

    April 05, 2016
    Supreme Court Issues SORNA Decision and Grants Cert on Juror Bias Issue

    Yesterday the Supreme Court issued a unanimous opinion in Nichols v. United States (No. 15-5238), holding that Mr. Nichols was not required under SORNA to update his sex offender registration in Kansas when he moved to the Philippines.  Based on the statutory language, the Court reasoned that  "[a] person who moves from Leavenworth to Manila no longer 'resides' (present tense) in Kansas;  although  he  once resided in  Kansas,  after  his  move  he  'resides'  in  the  Philippines."  For more on the opinion see this SCOTUSblog post.

    The Court also granted cert in Pena-Rodriguez v. Colorado (No. 15-606) to decide whether a no-impeachment rule constitutionally may bar evidence of racial bias offered to prove a violation of the Sixth Amendment right to an impartial jury.  For more on the case see this SCOTUSblog post.

    Lastly, the Court issued a per curiam opinion in Woods v. Etherton (No. 15-723) to summarily reverse on AEDPA deference grounds a decision by the Sixth Circuit in favor of a state habeas petitioner.

    March 30, 2016
    Supreme Court to Hear Double Jeopardy Claim; Issues Opinion in Counsel of Choice Case

    On March 28th, the Supreme Court granted cert in Bravo-Fernandez v. United States (No. 15-537) to decide the following issues: (1) whether, under Ashe v. Swenson and Yeager v. United States, a vacated, unconstitutional conviction can cancel out the preclusive effect of an acquittal under the collateral estoppel prong of the Double Jeopardy Clause; and (2) whether, under Evans v. Michigan, the Double Jeopardy Clause permits a district court to retract its “judgment of acquittal” entered on remand as an interpretation of the Court of Appeals’ mandate.  For more on the case see this SCOTUSblog post.

    In addition, today the Court decided Luis v. United States, holding that a pretrial freeze of untainted assets violates a criminal defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to counsel of choice. 

    For a summary of all pending or recently decided Supreme Court cases relevant to the criminal defense practitioner read Paul Rashkind's Supreme Court Update.


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