Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court dismissing Appellant’s appeal from a letter sent by the South Dakota Board of Pardons and Paroles denying Appellant’s request to review her parole date again. Appellant, a prison inmate, did not appeal from the Board’s adjudication of her initial parole-eligibility date. Two years later, Appellant requested the Board to reconsider. The Board declined, and Appellant filed an administrative appeal in circuit court. The circuit court dismissed the appeal with prejudice, concluding that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction because (1) the Board’s letter was not an appealable “decision, order, or action” within the meaning of S.D. Codified Laws 1-26-30.2; and (2) it did not have subject matter jurisdiction to review the Board’s final parole determination. In affirming, the Supreme Court held (1) the Board’s letter declining an additional review was not a final decision in a contested case that could be appealed to the circuit court; and (2) because Appellant did not appeal the Board’s final determination within thirty days as required by S.D. Codified Laws 1-26-31, the circuit court correctly concluded that it did not have subject matter jurisdiction to hear Appellant’s appeal. View "Peterson v. South Dakota Board of Pardons & Paroles" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the habeas court denying Petitioner’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus arguing that his trial counsel’s assistance was ineffective in regard to his decision to plead guilty and in regard to sentencing. Pursuant to a plea agreement, Petitioner pleaded guilty to second-degree robbery. Petitioner did not file an appeal or file a motion to modify his sentence. Instead, he filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus asking the circuit court to vacate his sentence. The habeas court denied the petition. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Petitioner failed to prove that the alleged errors in his trial attorney’s performance “actually had an adverse effect on the defense” under Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. at 693 (1984), and therefore, Petitioner was not entitled to relief. View "Madetzke v. Dooley" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Appellant’s separate convictions and sentences for aggravated assault and escape. The Court held (1) the circuit court did not err in denying Appellant’s motion to suppress; (2) the circuit court did not err when it denied Appellant a new trial after the jury found him guilty of aggravated assault and guilty of the lesser-included offense of simple assault because the circuit court vacated the jury’s guilty verdict for simple assault; (3) the circuit court did not err when it denied Appellant’s motion for a judgment of acquittal; and (4) the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in certain evidentiary rulings. View "State v. Abdo" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the habeas court denying Appellant’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus. After a jury trial, Appellant was convicted of second-degree murder and aggravated assault. In his habeas petition, Appellant argued that the circuit court committed errors during the jury selection process that warranted a new trial and that his counsel provided constitutionally ineffective assistance. The habeas court concluded (1) the circuit court committed errors during the jury selection process, but the errors were not structural and Appellant did not prove prejudice; and (2) Appellant failed to prove that counsel was ineffective during the jury selection process. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court’s errors during the jury selection process were not structural and were harmless; and (2) Appellant failed to show that he receive ineffective assistance of counsel. View "Miller v. Young" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court convicting Defendant of second-degree murder. The Court held that the circuit court did not err in (1) failing to dismiss the indictment on the ground that Defendant was not given notice of the coroner’s release of the body because Defendant failed to demonstrate prejudice; (2) denying Defendant’s motion for judgment of acquittal because the evidence was sufficient to support the verdict; and (3) admitting autopsy photographs into evidence because Defendant failed to show that the evidence was unduly prejudicial. View "State v. Quist" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court granting Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence found in the vehicle Defendant was driving, holding that, contrary to the circuit court’s finding, Defendant’s traffic stop was not unlawfully extended. Defendant was indicted on four felony drug charges after controlled substances were found in the vehicle she was driving. The circuit court granted Defendant’s motion to suppress, determining that the officer that stopped the vehicle unlawfully prolonged the traffic stop to question Defendant, conduct standard field sobriety tests, and call for a drug dog without reasonable suspicion of drug activity. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the officer’s decision to extend the initial traffic stop to question Defendant about drug activity and to conduct the drug dog sniff was supported by reasonable suspicion, and therefore, the traffic stop was not unlawfully extended. View "State v. Barry" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction for first-degree robbery, holding that sufficient evidence supported the conviction. On appeal, Defendant argued that the trial court erroneously admitted a surveillance video of him and an accomplice the day before the robbery. Much of the evidence directly implicating Defendant was elicited from that accomplice. Defendant argued before the Supreme Court that, without the video, there was insufficient evidence to corroborate the accomplice’s testimony. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that even if the admission of the video was error, the error was harmless because there was evidence independent of the surveillance video that tended to affirm the accomplice’s testimony and establish Defendant’s guilt. View "State v. Dunkelberger" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction for first-degree robbery, holding that sufficient evidence supported the conviction. On appeal, Defendant argued that the trial court erroneously admitted a surveillance video of him and an accomplice the day before the robbery. Much of the evidence directly implicating Defendant was elicited from that accomplice. Defendant argued before the Supreme Court that, without the video, there was insufficient evidence to corroborate the accomplice’s testimony. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that even if the admission of the video was error, the error was harmless because there was evidence independent of the surveillance video that tended to affirm the accomplice’s testimony and establish Defendant’s guilt. View "State v. Dunkelberger" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court reversed Defendant’s convictions for first-degree rape and sexual contact with a child under the age of sixteen and remanded this case for a new trial, holding (1) the circuit court did not err in permitting Defendant’s impeachment with inconsistent statements he made to law enforcement in a prior, unrelated criminal investigation; but (2) the circuit court misapplied S.D. Codified Laws 19-19-702 when it precluded Defendant’s expert witness from testifying about the methods used by the forensic interviewer who interviewed the child, and the exclusion of this evidence was sufficiently prejudicial to entitle Defendant to a new trial. View "State v. Wills" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Under the Fourth Amendment, law enforcement may not require an arrestee to urinate into a specimen container as a search incident to a lawful arrest without a valid warrant. Defendant was convicted and sentenced for unauthorized ingestion of a controlled substance. On appeal, Defendant argued that the circuit court erred by denying his motion to suppress evidence produced through chemical analysis of a urine sample that law enforcement obtained without first obtaining Defendant’s consent or a warrant. After considering an arrestee’s legitimate expectation of privacy and the government’s competing interest in preserving evidence, the Supreme Court agreed, holding (1) law enforcement may not, without a warrant, require an arrestee to provide a urine sample as a search incident to arrest; and (2) therefore, the search in this case was unconstitutional, and the circuit court erred by denying Defendant’s motion to suppress. View "State v. Lar" on Justia Law