In an opinion that should produce a bunch of smirks, the Oregon Court of Appeals ruled that a criminal defendant can be in constructive possession of drugs found inside his co-defendant's vagina. Before we start the inevitable "slippery slope" sort of arguments a case like this is destined to produce, let's look at the facts. In State v. Sherman, an opinion announced by the COA April 22, 2015, the court found that the trial court did not err in denying defendant's MJOA "based on its determination that a reasonable juror could conclude that he constructively possessed 5.67 grams of cocaine found in his codefendant's vagina." Sure.
In 1997 the Oregon legislature passed what was then-referred to as Senate Bill 936. Senate Bill 936 made a number of changes to Oregon criminal defense statutes. No change was perhaps more significant than the addition to Oregon's evidence code of section 404(4). This section fundamentally changed the way in which Oregon courts treated an entire class of evidence commonly referred to as "prior bad acts" evidence.
Is being a less-than stellar parent a crime? The Washington County District Attorney thinks so. Earlier this week the Oregon Court of Appeals threw out a conviction for Criminal Mistreatment in the First Degree here. The case was the result of a household dog biting a child on a number of occasions. While certainly not a model for good parenting skills, was this a crime?
Under Oregon law a person commits the crime of burglary when they: 1) Enter or remain unlawfully in a building or residence, 2) with the intent to commit a crime therein. Most people think of burglary as breaking into a building for the purpose of stealing something. However burglary under Oregon law covers a much wider range of conduct. Unlawful entry cases arise when a person enters premises without the consent or authorization of the owner. A person remains unlawfully when, after entering with permission, they fail to leave after such permission expires or is revoked. It is often said that in either case, an unlawful entry or an unlawful remaining, that a burglary conviction requires a criminal trespass for the purpose of committing a crime. What then is required for criminal trespass you might ask? Confusingly Oregon law defines criminal trespass as (did you guess it?) to "enter or remain unlawfully." It is this circular definition that is at the heart of much of the burglary confusion.
Well, it doesn't matter what you think.
Yesterday, the Oregon Court of Appeals held that the Cornelius Oregon Police Department did not act in good faith reliance on then-existing law when it impounded and searched a car that was parked in its owner's driveway.
Yesterday the Oregon Court of Appeals reversed the assault conviction of Vernice Scott because the trial court had excluded evidence that was relevant to his claim that he acted in self-defense.
Organized retail theft is a very real problem. Yesterday the Oregon Supreme Court made it worse by elevating many otherwise class C and B felony shoplifting cases into Class A felony mobster prosecutions.
In a stunning and exceptionally rare 63 page "advisory" opinion issued yesterday, United States District Court Judge Ancer L. Haggerty excoriated both the United States Attorney for the District of Oregon and its prosecution team, in particular the Oregon State Police and OSP Detective David Steele, for their grossly incompetent and even criminal mishandling of the death penalty murder prosecutions of Holly Grigsby and David Pedersen.
Today the Oregon Supreme Court upheld Ronald Everett's conviction for Solicitation to Commit Aggravated Murder on the grounds that he solicited someone to deliver damaging information about an outlaw biker to other members of that individual's outlaw biker gang, in the hopes that members of that gang might act on such information by murdering that outlaw biker.