Archive for September, 2010

legal brief stamper

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

Walter R. Stamper v. Commonwealth of Virginia: Supreme Court of Virginia

Facts: After suspicion of Stamper accepting contraband as payment for his legal services, two law enforcement officers persuaded a drug suspect to solicit Stamper for his services. The two officers gave 3.88lbs of marijuana to the suspect to offer Stamper as a mode of paying for legal fees. The officers instructed the suspect not to specifically ask to pay Stamper with the contraband and the suspect complied. The two officers recorded and took photographs of the meeting between the suspect and Stamper where Stamper willingly accepted the contraband as a retainer. The police officers later found the 3.88lbs of marijuana in Stamper’s car after Stamper tried to evade the police in his vehicle. On the day of the arrest, Stamper won a case in court where the judge presiding over Stamper’s eventual court case heard the case. Stamper was convicted of possession and intent to distribute 3.88lbs of marijuana. On appeal Stamper raised issues which included, an error in citation of the statutory subsection in the indictment, entrapment, an argument that the trial judge should have recused himself sua sponte, that evidence of diminished mental competency should be allowed despite not pleading insanity, and that the judge attempted to punish him for appealing by denying motions to suspend sentencing and for probation.

Procedural History: Appealed to the Circuit Court of Washington County. Circuit Court upheld district court’s decision. Appealed to the Supreme Court of Virginia.

Issues: 1) Whether an error in the citation of a statutory subsection of a indictment results in the dismissal of a indictment or conviction.

2) Whether the actions by the two officers violated entrapment rules.

3) Whether a judge must be disqualified from the case because he heard a case in which the defendant participated in on the day of his arrest and that could affect his judgment of the defendants argument of his mental competency.

4) Whether questions of mental competency can be raised in a case in absence of a insanity defense.

5) Whether the defendants constitutional right to appeal a case was infringed by the court denying motions to suspend sentencing and denying probation.

Holding: 1) No 2) No 3) No 4) No 5) No

Reasoning: 1) The dismissal of a indictment or the reversal of a conviction only occurs when it is found that the error prejudiced the accused in preparing his defense. In this case, the defense knew about the discrepancy five months before hand, that was enough time to adjust or to ask for its amendment.

2) According to Sorrells v. U.S. the definition of entrapment is the “conception and planning of an offense by a officer, and his procurement of its commission by one who would not have perpetrated it except for the trickery, persuasion, or fraud of the officer. In this case, the use of the suspect did not violate this definition because the suspect did not actively offer the contraband as payment. He only said, “some other stuff I could get rid off.” It was solely Stampers decision to make the deal to exchange his legal services for marijuana.

3) Since the defendant did not use an insanity plea, the question of his mental competency on that day has no outcome on the case, therefore the judge’s perception of the defendant on that day would have no effect on the impartial judgment of the case.

4) Since the state of knowledge in the fields of medicine and psychology are constantly changing, the classifications for mental illnesses and conditions are constantly changing. Our common law system cannot allow each case to be decided on different standards of an ever changing fields of study. Instead the courts use a constant standard of mental competence to determine criminal responsibility. Either a person is Sane or Insane according to this standard. Since the defendant did not claim to beyond the borderline of sanity, he is perceived by the court to be sane. His claims of his mental competency do not affect his guilt.

5) The attorney general said that it is within the trial courts discretion to deny suspension of sentencing and to deny probation. Since there is no evidence of the Court doing this to punish the defendant, there is no reason to think that the court denied him his right to appeal. Also, since the defendant was able to appeal his case to the Virginia Supreme Court, a decision on whether he was denied the right to appeal would be moot.

legal brief drug dog

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

Illinois v. Roy I. Caballes 543 U.S. 405 U.S. Supreme Court January 24, 2005.

Facts: Illinois State Trooper Daniel Gillette stopped Caballes for speeding. While announcing the stop on the radio, Craig Graham of the Illinois State Police Drug Interdiction Team, overheard the transmission and headed to the scene with his narcotics detection dog. The dog found marijuana in the trunk of the car. There were no signs during the routine traffic stop prior to the arrival of the dog to require a search of the car. The state court proceedings determined that the stop was not improperly extended to enable the drug dog to arrive. Caballes was convicted and sentenced to 12 years imprisonment and a $256,136 fine by the trail court.

Procedural History: The case was appealed to the Illinois Court of Appeals and confirmed by the court. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed the decision. The U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Issue: Whether the use of a narcotic detecting canine during a routine traffic stop without any sign of possession of narcotics is a violation of privacy rights protected by the Fourth Amendment.

Holding: No

Reasoning: A sniff by a narcotic detecting canine during a routine traffic stop does not infringe privacy rights because it in no way would lead to the lawful information being uncovered by the law enforcement officer. The sniff will only uncover contraband in someone’s car and no one has the right to have marijuana.

legal brief

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

Hudson v. Michigan 04-1360 U.S. Supreme Court June 15, 2006.

Facts: The police obtained a warrant authorizing a search of Hudson’s house for drugs and firearms. The police found drugs and firearms in the house, however, they violated the “knock and announce” rule by only waiting 3-5 seconds before they broke the door. The trial court accepted Hudson’s motion to suppress the evidence found by the police, arguing that the premature entry violated his Fourth Amendment rights. After appeals, Hudson was convicted of drug possession.

Procedural History: On interlocutory review, the Michigan Court of Appeals reversed the trial courts decision. The Supreme Court of Michigan denied appeal. Hudson renewed his fourth amendment objection and appealed to the Court of Appeals. Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction. Michigan Supreme Court declined review. U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Issue: Whether violation of “knock-and-announce” rule requires the suppression of all evidence found in the search.

Holding: No

Reasoning: The interests of the “knock and announce” rule do not include suppression of evidence. “Knock and announce” only protects someone’s ability to prepare themselves for police entry, someone’s ability to comply with the law in order to avoid destruction of their property, and prevention of violence as a result of unannounced entry. The exclusionary rule does not apply to this case because suppressing evidence as a result of “knock and announce” rule violation would create social costs which would outweigh the benefits of its deterrence. For example, if evidence were to be suppressed as a result of violation of “knock and announce” violation then there would be a flood of cases dealing with this issue, a weakened ability of policy to obtain evidence, and a greater chance of violence against police officers.


Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

Possible objections or answers to objections.

1) Separation of law and law as it ought to be disregards the problem of penumbra. Pg 65.

2) Blackstone’s idea that judges only find not make law.

3) we can say laws are incurably incomplete and we must decide penumbral cases rationally by reference to social aims. 68

4) insist on the utilitarian distinction is to emphasize that the hard core of settled meaning is law in some centrally important sense and that even if there are borderlines, there must first be lines. 68

5) General propositions do not solve cases. Holmes, 68

6) The obligation to obey the law is a moral obligation. It is implausible to state that the obligation to obey the law is superior to other moral obligations.

legal brief 5

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

Tyler Chase Harper v. Poway Unified School District 445 F.3d 1166 U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. April 20, 2006.

Facts: Tyler Chase Harper, a high school sophomore, spent a class day in the principle’s office for wearing a T-shirt which contained disparaging statements about the homosexual community. Chase was not suspended or sanctioned in any way.

Procedural History: Chase filed suit in federal court claiming that the school had violated his First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and religion, as well as rights protected by the equal protection and due process clauses under the federal Constitution and the California Civil Code. Chase asked the court for a preliminary injunction and the school asked to dismiss the case. Both were denied. The Court dismissed all of Chase’s claims except the First Amendment claims because of the school‘s qualified immunity. Chase appealed the preliminary injunction decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Issue: Whether forbidding a student in a public high school to wear a derogatory T-shirt violates his or her First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and religion.

Holding: No

Reasoning: Tinker v. Des Moines Indep. Cmty. Sch. Dist. allows school officials to curtail free speech of a student if that speech impinges upon the rights of other students or causes a substantial disruption or material interference with school activities. In this case, Chase’s t-shirt impinges on homosexual classmates right to a education without being psychological or emotionally harassed by other students. As a result, Chase would not receive a preliminary injunction for freedom of speech because it is highly unlikely that that claim will have merit in district court. Lastly, Chase’s claim that the school violated his right to free exercise of religion and his rights protected by the establishment clause is without merit. The school did not violate his right to free exercise of religion because there is no evidence in the ruling to suggest the school burdened his ability to exercise his religion. The establishment clause doesn’t apply because the banning of the t-shirt was not religiously motivated.

legal brief 4

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

Macomber v. Dillman 505 A.2d 810 Supreme Judicial Court of Maine. February 27, 1986.

Facts: Roxanne Macomber underwent tubal ligation for the purpose of being sterilized. After the surgery she conceived and given birth to a healthy and normal child.

Procedural History: The plaintiffs, Roxanne and Steven Macomber, filed a complaint of negligent and careless failure to comply with the standard of care of medical practice against the defendants, Carter F. Dillman and the Webber Hospital Association. Plaintiffs claimed damages including the cost of raising and educating the child, the medical and other expenses of the pregnancy and child birth, the expenses for the subsequent hysterectomy, lost wages, loss of consortium, the medical expenses related to the failed tubal ligation, physical impairment of Roxanne Macomber, and physical and mental anguish of Roxanne Macomber. Defendants filed motion for dismissal or summary judgment on the grounds that the plaintiff failed to state a claim for which relief could be granted because they could not claim damages for the rearing and educating of a healthy child. The Superior Court denied the defendant‘s claim.. The plaintiffs and the defendants filed a joint motion to have the Supreme Judicial Court of Maine set forth the damages.

Issue: Whether a parent can claim damages for the birth and rearing of a healthy child.

Holding: No

Reasoning: Regarding this case, a parent can claim damages as a result of medical mistreatment by a complaint of negligence. However, the scope of damages does not extend to cover expenses caused after the birth like education of the child. It is in the interest of public policy to deny the claim that giving birth to a healthy child invokes an injury or damages to the parent.

law last P

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

Reasoning: When Officer Miller and Officer Raskin used overly aggressive tactics to subdue Solomon despite the overall compliance and lack a perceived threat of flight from Solomon, the officers clearly violated her right to be free from excessive force during an arrest. Since the methods they used were grossly out of balance with the crime of trespassing it is clear that the methods the two officers used was unlawful and not reasonable. As a result of the two officers’ methods being a violation of her fourth amendment rights and being unreasonable for the crime, the officers qualified immunity is not granted.

legal brief 3

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

Strunk v. Strunk 445 S.W.2d 145 Court of Appeals of Kentucky September 26, 1969.

Facts: Arthur L. Strunk and Ava Strunk are parents of Tommy Strunk, age 28, and Jerry Strunk, age 27. Tommy Strunk has chronic glomerus nephritis, a fatal kidney disease. He is kept alive by frequent treatment on a artificial kidney. Doctors believe Tommy has a remote chance of surviving on cadaver kidney transplants. Jerry Strunk is mentally handicapped and has the mental age of a six year old. He is committed to the Frankfort State Hospital and School. He is further handicapped by a speech defect. Jerry is the only member of the family to have a compatible blood type as Tommy.

Procedural History: The mother as a committee petitioned the county court for authority to proceed with the operation. The county court found the operation necessary to both brothers. Appeal was taken to the Franklin Circuit Court. Franklin Circuit Court adopted the finding of the county court. The case was then appealed to the Court of Appeals of Kentucky.

Issues: Whether a court has the power to permit the removal of a kidney from a incompetent ward of the state in order for that kidney to be transplanted into the body of his brother, who is dying of a fatal kidney disease?

Holding: Yes

Reasons: The situation is unique because there has not been a similar case in any of the States or higher courts through our nations history. In English common law, it understood that the inherent power of the courts of equity to make provisions for a needy brother. This was decided in Ex parte Whitebread (1816). The principle of this case, the doctrine of substituted judgment, has been recognized by our country to be broad enough to cover property and all matters touching the ward. We have sufficient case law to guard against instances which would jeopardize the life of the ward.

legal brief 2

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

Catherine Gebbia v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. 233 F.3d 880, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, December 4, 2000,

Facts: The plaintiff slipped on the floor in a Louisiana Wal-Mart and alleged in her original state court petition that she sustained injuries to her right wrist, left knee and patella, and upper and lower back. She sought damages for medical expenses, physical pain and suffering, mental anguish and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of wages and earning capacity, and disfigurement. The defendant is from Delaware and does business in Arkansas.

Procedural History: Plaintiff did not pray for a specific amount of damages according to Article 893 of the Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure. The defendant moved the action to district court pursuant of diversity jurisdiction. Diversity jurisdiction was granted October 13, 1998 because the two parties were from different states and the plaintiff claimed damages over 75,000 dollars. Trial was set for March 20, 2000. The plaintiff filed motion to remand after discovering that amounted of claimed damages was less than 75,000 dollars on March 2, 2000. Remand was denied. The court ruled in favor of the Defendant. The plaintiff appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

Issue: Whether diversity jurisdiction of a district court is lost when it is determined after the original plea for damages that the alleged damages of the plaintiff are less than the 75,000 dollar minimum?

Holding: No

Reasons: Once the district court has determined that the case meets the requirements for diversity jurisdiction, any event after the time of removal which diminishes the amount of damages does not divest the court of jurisdiction.

legal brief

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

Kopp v. Kopp 280 F.3d 883 ,U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, February 19, 2002.

Facts: Donna Kopp, resident of Missouri, was attacked, restrained, and sexually assaulted by her ex-husband, Donald Kopp, in her own home. Ms. Kopp has filed suit against Mr. Kopp. The two parties of the case are from different states. Ms. Kopp argues the harsh nature of the case would warrant punitive damages which would exceed $75,000 for the emotional distress.

Procedural History: Ms. Kopp sued Mr. Kopp in federal court. She claimed Mr. Kopp violated the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 and state tort law. The district court dismissed the case because the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 was declared unconstitutional by United States v. Morrison (2000). The district court dismissed the state tort law claim because it did not have the necessary requirements for diversity jurisdiction. Ms. Kopp appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.

Issue: Whether access to a federal court should be determined when a fact finder concludes the amount of damages by the preponderance of evidence to exceed or fall short of the requisite amount?

Holding: No

Reasoning: Whether a case falls under the jurisdiction of a court is determined by the amount properly pleaded for by the plaintiff at the time of the suit. Asking a judge to consider if the amount of damages in order to determine access to a district court is asking the judge to prejudge the monetary value of the claim. In the case of Ms. Kopp, her plea for punitive damages was not limited by Missouri tort law. Since the dispute was between two people who are residents of different states, the federal district court has jurisdiction over the case if the claim of damages is over 75,000 dollars. Since her punitive damages are not limited, it is reasonable that she could receive over the requisite amount. The question of jurisdiction is only applicable if there were restrictions on the amount of punitive damages Ms. Kopp could claim which would set the amount of her damages below the required limit.