Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Court of Appeals Update (Jan. 5, 2010)

Reversals and other interesting cases.

State v. Hensley. Officer, while defendant was in hospital, asked defendant to cooperate and asked him incriminating questions. Held: This was a Miranda interrogation, without warning, as the conduct was reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating statement.

State v. Mumford. In automobile accident case, defendant charged with DWI and 5 counts of felony serious injury by vehicle. The jury acquitted on DWI, but convicted on the felony serious injury by vehicle. Defendant objected at trial on grounds of inconsistent verdicts.

1) Defendant failed to preserve double jeopardy issue, as he only objected on inconsistent verdicts grounds;

2) Overturned on inconsistent verdicts. Verdict, even verdicts that appear inconsistent, are not inconsistent if there is sufficient evidence to convict adduced at trial. However, where the two verdict require the jury to find mutually contradictory legal elements, however, defendant is entitled to relief. Here, the verdict is logically inconsistent and legally contrary. An element of felony serious injury by vehicle, Gen. Stat. 20-141.4(a4) requires that the driver cause serious injury while "engaged in the offense of impaired driving." Here, the two verdicts are logically inconsistent. Five vehicle injury convictions vacated.

Also vacated restitution of $228,000, based on insufficient evidence at trial.

State v. Meadows. Junk Science. NarTest machine, used to determine if a substance is cocaine, deemed unreliable and inadmissible at trial. No evidence was presented at the trial that the machine was reliable or accepted in the field and no prior caselaw establishes it as a reliable technique, using Howerton standard. New trial.

State v. Simmons. During a routine stop, officer asked what was in a plastic bag and the driver said, "cigar guts." The officer searched, based on knowledge that people often use cigar papers to roll marijuana blunts. Held: No probable cause, based on statement of the defendant, as there was no nexus between the presence of loose tobacco and marijuana.

State v. Steele. Under 90-95(g), the state can give the defendant written notice 15 days before a proceeding of its intent to use a certified drug lab report without any further authentication and it is admissible unless defendant files a written objection with the court at least 5 days before the hearing. Here, defendant's lawyer failed to object. No 6th amendment problem under Melendez-Diaz, as the S.C. in that case specifically approved using notice-and-demand statutes for these types of reports. 90-95(g) constitutional.

Also, sufficient evidence of constructive possession in testimony of officers that he threw the drugs away while fleeing.

Other Cases.

State v. Beam. In drug case, court ruled that the definition of delivery in Gen. Stat. 90-87(7) includes the attempt to transfer and there was no entrapment in this case.

State v. Fortney. In possession of firearm by felon (among others), state declined defendant's offerred stipulation to prior felony and put on evidence of prior 1d rape conviction. Court found no error, as the state has to prove the prior conviction and they are free to do so, regardless of stipulated offering.

State v. Fortney
. Held that an NCIC report was admissible to prove out-of-state convictions, because it had adequate identifying information on it. Yikes.

State v. Sanders. No error in 1d murder case of not submitting duress instructions to the jury because all evidence of the threats were threats made after commission of the crime.

State v. Singleton. Trial court erred in ordering defendant to participate in satellite-based monitoring for life (SBM) as indecent liberties is not an aggravated offense under Gen. Stat. 14-208.6(1a).

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