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.
Today the Oregon Court of Appeals overturned the murder conviction of Damon James Naudain. The case was returned to the trial court for a new trial for one reason. According to the appellate court, the trial judge made an impermissible commnet on the trial evidence requiring reversal.
In a pair of decisions handed down on March 21, the U.S. Supreme Court explicitly held that a criminal defendant has the right under the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to the effective assistance of an attorney during, often informal, plea negotiations. Both cases were decided by 5-4 majorities over a vigorous dissent complaiining of an unwarranted "constitutionalization" of plea-bargaining law.
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.
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.