On Wednesday, the Oregon Court of Appeals held that Jeff Keuhner did not have to pay $7,808.34 to the Medford police department to reimburse the cost of overtime pay to police for guarding him while he lay in the hospital recovering from stab wounds he inflicted upon himself while he was being arrested in the course of committing a violent sexual assault.
On January 10, 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Louisiana state first degree murder conviction of Juan Smith. Smith had been convicted of murdering five people in an armed robbery gone-bad. According to the majority only one witness identified Mr. Smith as the gunman and no physical evidence implicated him in the crime.
It has long been the case that "your own words can be used against you" in a criminal case. Now it is equally clear that the words of others, even if unknown to you can be equally as damaging. On December 21, 2011, the Oregon Court of Appeals held that giving verbal encouragement to a person committing an assault constitutes "aiding" that person under Oregon's Assault, Robbery, and "Aiding and Abetting" laws.
In another disappointing decision from the Oregon Court of Appeals, the court yesterday held that a person charged with a crime based on their own reckless behavior may not introduce evidence that they were intoxicated to show they did not act recklessly.
Today the Ninth circuit overturned Arturo Sanchez Jr.'s convictions for the importation and possession of cocaine on the ground that the the prosecutor made an outrageous and improper argument that seriously affected the fairness, and integrity of his trial.
Yesterday, the 9th Circuit affirmed the district court's refusal to give Lenny Urena a self-defense instruction in his assault case. Lenny it seems was incarcerated on the morning of April 11, 2006 when he was insulted by another inmate who called Lenny "a bitch."
Today the Oregon Supreme Court invalidated a critical portion of a Uniform Criminal Jury Instruction providing that someone who aids or abets another person in committing a crime is responsible not only for the commission of the intended crime, but for all other criminal acts committed as a "natural and probable consequence of the planning, preparation, or commission of the intended crime." In invalidating this portion of the instruction, Petronilo Lopez-Minjarez'z aggravated murder and other convictions were overturned.
Today's Oregonian reports the story of a teenage driver arrested and initially charged with Manslaughter in the Second Degree (Manslaughter 2) in the hit and run death of a bicyclist in Southeast Portland. In a small bike-friendly city such as Portland, such tragic cases often receive a great deal of media exposure early in the case. This media exposure often touches on subjects that would not necessarily be admissible in a trial of the accused however. This type of exposure can have a negative impact on the accused's right to have his or her case decided by a fair and impartial jury.
On March 19, 2011 the Oregon Court of Appeals overturned the Linn county conviction of Steve Dwain Simmons Jr. Mr. Simmons was found guilty of the class C felony crime of Assault in the Third degree after the trial judge allowed the jury to hear hearsay statements made by the "victim" of the assault even though he failed to testify personally in front of the jury.
On February 28, 2011 the United States Supreme Court issued a stunning opinion backtracking from its recent line of cases which had reinvigorated the Sixth Amendment's "Confrontation Clause." This decision will be used, as had prior rejected cases, as the basis for a gradual erosion of a criminal defendant's Constitutional right to confront the witnesses against him.