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Showing 1 - 15 of 1915 results

    • Brief

    Oregon v. Aranda

    Brief of the Oregon Criminal Defense Lawyers Association and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers as Amici Curiae in Support of Defendant-Respondent.


    Argument: If OEC 609 is construed to permit all felony convictions without weighing the risk of unfair prejudice, the rule violates federal due process. The indiscriminate admission of even unfairly prejudicial convictions runs counter to common law traditions that require “fundamental fairness” and generally bar the use of propensity evidence.

    Barring the use of OEC 403 prior to admitting felony convictions also burdens the exercise of Oregon defendants’ constitutional trial rights. First, it forces defendants to choose between the right to the right to testify and an impartial jury. Relatedly, the per se admission of prior felony convictions against defendants tends to produce a chilling effect on the right to testify because if they take the stand, they will be unfairly prejudiced. The Supreme Court has made clear, “[t]he right to testify on one’s own behalf at a criminal trial . . . is one of the rights that ‘are essential to due process of law in a fair adversary process.’” Rock v. Arkansas, 483 US 44, 51, 107 S Ct 2704, 97 L Ed 2d 37 (1987) (quoting Faretta v. California, 422 US 806, 817, n 15, 95 S Ct 2525, 45 L Ed 2d 562 (1975)). Second, the threat of per se prior conviction impeachment also impermissibly burdens the right to trial because it both distorts the strength of the government’s case and adds to the coercive nature of the plea-bargaining system of criminal adjudication.

    • Brief

    Lee v. Maryland

    Amicus Curiae Brief of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in Support of Appellee Adnan Syed, by Written Consent


    Argument: NACDL, with authors from law firm Paul, Weiss, filed an amicus brief in the Appellate Court of Maryland in Young Lee, as Victim’s Representative v. State of Maryland. Adnan Syed, whose criminal case gained notoriety after being chronicled in the podcast Serial, was recently released from prison after the court vacated his conviction upon the prosecution’s recommendation. Mr. Syed had been serving a life sentence for the 1999 murder of his high school classmate Hae Min Lee. The prosecution cited flaws in the conviction, including unreliable cell phone tower data and possible failure to disclose key exculpatory evidence and two new potential suspects in their motion to vacate Syed’s conviction. Even though they were in attendance, the victim’s family has appealed the vacatur for lack of sufficient notice and opportunity to participate. Our amicus brief argues that, while Maryland law expressly grants a victim the right to receive notice of and attend vacatur proceedings, it does not provide a victim the right to be heard at the proceeding. The Maryland General Assembly made a choice to treat vacatur proceedings differently than other proceedings, such as sentencing, where a victim’s right to be heard is expressly granted. Even if Maryland did provide victims the right to be heard at a vacatur hearing, which it does not, that would not mean that victims have the additional right to participate in such hearings by challenging the evidence, as the victim’s family argues. Giving victims the right to challenge evidence or dispute substantive rulings would effectively allow them to usurp the role of prosecutors and violate due process, we argue.

    • Content Page

    United States v. Chatrie, No. 3:19-cr-130 (E.D. Va.)

    In United States v. Chatrie, No. 3:19-cr-130 (E.D. Va.), Okello Chatrie was charged with armed robbery based on Google Sensorvault data obtained by law enforcement via a geofence warrant. Chatrie is represented by Michael Price, Senior Litigation Counsel for the Fourth Amendment Center, and Laura Koenig, a public defender in the Eastern District of Virginia. 

    • Brief

    United States v. Anthony Anderson

    Amicus Curiae Brief of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in Support of Appellant.


    Argument: In the decision that precipitated the “unanimous verdict” issue here, Ramos v. Louisiana, 140 S. Ct. 1390 (2020), NACDL (among others) filed an amicus brief. NACDL’s interest in this issue continues because members of our Armed Forces tried by courts-martial under the Uniform Code of Military Justice [UCMJ] are not second-class citizens and do not forfeit their Fifth or Sixth Amendment rights to a unanimous verdict upon donning a military uniform. Pursuant to CAAF Rule 26(b), our amicus curiae brief “bring[s] relevant matter to the attention of the Court not already brought to its attention by the parties...” NACDL’s approach is different regarding the substantive issue, i.e., does the Sixth Amendment’s guarantee of a unanimous verdict in a criminal case, apply to noncapital courts-martial for serious offenses? Alternatively, does the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause require unanimity? Our amicus brief does not duplicate Appellant’s arguments. NACDL takes a different path in arriving at the same conclusion–non-unanimous verdicts in noncapital courts-martial violate the Constitution. NACDL’s position is that Congress, when enacting Article 52(a)(3), UCMJ, provided for non-unanimous verdicts–as in Ramos–by “the concurrence of at least three-fourths of the members present when the vote is taken” –which contravenes what the Constitution commands, viz., a unanimous verdict. Article 52(a)(3), UCMJ, is therefore unconstitutional on its face.

    • Brief

    Smith v. Maryland

    Amici Curiae Brief of National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Maryland Criminal Defense Attorneys Association, and the Innocence Network in Support of Appellant.


    Argument: In this extraordinary case, the State conceded that it engaged in “intentional, willful, and/or reckless misconduct” to secure the conviction of Jonathan Smith when it suppressed exculpatory evidence, concealed an agreement involving a key witness who closely assisted in the State’s investigation, and repeatedly lied about this misconduct. On remand from this Court, the Attorney General agreed that this egregious and willful misconduct warranted dismissing the charges against Mr. Smith. Giving little if any weight to these concessions, the Court of Special Appeals applied an impossibly high constitutional bar for due process dismissals that is contrary to this Court’s prior opinion in this matter and to standards in other jurisdictions whose rulings the court purported to survey. Rather than sanctioning the State for its misconduct, the ruling allowed the State to retry Mr. Smith as if its misconduct never occurred and gravely minimized the resulting prejudice to Mr. Smith on any retrial. This is not a meaningful sanction to deter prosecutions, such as this one, that are pervaded from their inception by admittedly egregious and willful prosecutorial misconduct. This Court should grant certiorari to address this issue of first impression, and to devise a standard that adequately deters future prosecutorial misconduct.

    • Brief

    Reed v. United States

    Brief for Amicus Curiae of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in Support of Petitioner.


    Argument: The Court has explained “over and over” for more than twenty years that under the Sixth Amendment, “only a jury, and not a judge, may find facts that increase a maximum penalty, except for the simple fact of a prior conviction.” E.g., Mathis v. United States, 579 U.S. 500, 511-20 (2016) (citing, inter alia, Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466, 490 (2000)). A sentencing court “can do no more, consistent with the Sixth Amendment, than determine what crime, with what elements, the defendant was convicted of.” Id. at 511-12; see also, e.g., Alleyne v. United States, 570 U.S. 99, 111-12 (2013). Yet in the context of applying the Armed Career Criminal Act’s “occasions” test, the circuits routinely permit sentencing courts to do much more. Specifically, any factfinder conducting the inquiry prescribed in Wooden v. United States, 142 S. Ct. 1063 (2022), must make a series of fine-grained determinations pertaining not just to the elements of a defendant’s prior convictions, but also to the factual circumstances and real-world conduct that gave rise to them. When such findings are made to support an increased maximum penalty (as they indisputably are in this context), they must be made by a jury, on proof beyond a reasonable doubt. “That simple point” has become a “mantra” in this Court’s jurisprudence. Mathis, 579 U.S. at 510. But both before and since Wooden, lower courts conducting the occasions inquiry have routinely ignored it. Despite this Court’s repeated teachings, they routinely sift through “legally extraneous circumstances” to support ACCA enhancements, thus conducting the precise inquiry the Sixth Amendment and this Court’s precedents unambiguously prohibit. Descamps v. United States, 570 U.S. 254, 270 (2013); see also, e.g., Mathis, 579 U.S. at 510.

    As Justices Gorsuch and Sotomayor suggested in Wooden, 142 S. Ct. at 1079, 1082-87, the time has come for the Court to reestablish the controlling force of its decisions. The courts of appeals have “missed more than a few * * * clear signs” that their current approach to the occasions inquiry is unconstitutional, United States v. Perry, 908 F.3d 1126, 1135 (8th Cir. 2018) (Stras, J., concurring) (citing, inter alia, Mathis, 579 U.S. at 510-11, Descamps, 570 U.S. at 268-69, and Alleyne, 570 U.S. at 111 n.1), and, despite the existence of at least five unambiguously correct separate opinions addressing the issue,  there is no indication that any lower court will change its approach unless and until this Court intervenes. The error on which the decision below (along with many others like it) depends will thus persist until the Court reaffirms its Sixth Amendment “mantra,” Mathis, 579 U.S. at 510, yet again. The Court should grant certiorari and do so. 

    • Brief

    Washington v. State of Maryland

    Brief of Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights & Urban Affairs, American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland, Public Justice Center, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and Maryland Criminal Defense Attorneys’ Association as Amici Curiae in Support of Appellant.


    Argument: In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court concluded in Illinois v. Wardlow, 528 U.S. 119 (2000), that an individual’s “unprovoked flight” in a “high-crime area” created sufficient “reasonable suspicion” of criminal activity to justify a stop, interrogation, and search of that individual under the framework prescribed in Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968). In this case, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals interpreted Wardlow as providing that “unprovoked flight from law enforcement in a high-crime area”—by itself—can be enough to trigger such an intrusion. Ct. Spec. App. Op. at 11 (Mar. 24, 2022) (hereinafter, “COSA Op.”). In reaching that conclusion, the Court of Special Appeals acknowledged that a growing number of state and federal courts—following the standard announced in Terry and applied in Wardlow—account for the “reality that Black individuals have no shortage of innocent reasons to flee at the sight of law enforcement.” Id. at 13. But the Court of Special Appeals, “constrained by [its] place in Maryland’s judicial hierarchy,” thought itself powerless to consider that reality in assessing the reasonableness of the detention and search at issue in this case. Id. at 13, 16.

    As an initial matter, Wardlow did not expressly adopt a categorical rule that law enforcement is constitutionally permitted to stop and frisk anyone perceived to be fleeing from police in a purportedly “high-crime” area. See People v. Flores, 38 Cal. App. 5th 617, 631 (2019) (rejecting the argument “that ‘flight’ plus ‘high-crime area’ equals reasonable suspicion for a detention,” and confirming that “Wardlow . . . did not make such a bright-line holding”). Indeed, the term “high-crime area” has itself eluded consistent definition. Instead, Wardlow applied Terry’s holistic “reasonable suspicion” standard to the unique facts and circumstances presented. But the Wardlow Court made clear that any reasonable suspicion analysis must be based on “commonsense judgments and inferences about human behavior”—a directive that necessarily requires courts to account for societal advances, including evolving social science, over time.

    Our understanding of human behavior has progressed dramatically in the twenty years since Wardlow was decided. State and federal courts around the country have relied on an expanding body of empirical evidence to deem unconstitutional under Terry police stops based on a Black individual’s flight in a supposedly “high-crime area.” Consistent with Wardlow’s teaching and that jurisdictional trend, this Court can—and should—take the opportunity to clarify that in Maryland, too, the “commonsense” implication of a Black man’s flight from police is not criminal guilt, but rather an understandable desire to avoid an interaction fraught with fear and distrust. Amici therefore urge the Court to reverse the decision below, and to hold that the mere fact of flight from law enforcement in a “high-crime area” did not, without more, give the officers in this case adequate cause to stop and search the defendant, Mr. Washington.