Criminal Law News - U.S. Tenth Circuit
U.S. Tenth Circuit - The FindLaw 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

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A Colorado state trooper stopped Melissa Sotelo for driving too slowly in the left-hand lane. Sotelo was driving a car rented from Hertz by Patrick Schooler, but there were no other authorized drivers listed. The car wasn't stolen, and Schooler was a friend of the passenger, Janelle Mireles. Hertz asked the police to impound the car.

Before they did, they conducted an inventory search and found three gift-wrapped boxes in the back seat. The driver and passenger said the boxes contained baby clothes, a karaoke machine, and a baby stroller -- birthday gifts for Sotelo's daughter. Suspicious, the trooper obtained a search warrant, then opened the boxes. Happy birthday! Marijuana.

Lesson From U.S. v. Henderson: Don't Give Up, Poll the Jury

The Tenth Circuit issued an opinion today in United States v. Henderson that demonstrates the importance of polling the jury when you get a verdict against you.

In 2011, former Tulsa, Oklahoma, police officer Jeff Henderson was convicted of several counts during a corruption trial and was sentenced to 42 months in prison, Tulsa's KOTV reports. The most interesting issue on appeal was this: Was Henderson denied his constitutional right to a unanimous jury, given that one juror was instructed by the foreman that she was not permitted to change her guilty vote?

The court decided no. Henderson attached an affidavit from the juror, but the court did not consider it, citing Rule 606(b) of the Federal Rules of Evidence, which provides:

The "Borg Cube," as the locals like to call it, opened one week ago. Today was the first trial in the new courthouse. Lets hope the rest of the trials go more smoothly than this one.

During the last of a series of trials for alleged Tongan Crips members, defendant Siale Angilau, 25, allegedly grabbed a pen or pencil and tried to charge the stand. A U.S. Marshall shot him multiple times in the chest. He was removed from the building on a stretcher, in critical condition, while the brand new courthouse is expected to be locked down until Monday afternoon, reports the Salt Lake Tribune.

Usually one of the quieter circuits, the Tenth Circuit is now giving legal professionals something to talk about.

With cases percolating, and being argued before the Tenth Circuit (with almost-certain cert petitions following soon), three big issues have come to the forefront in the circuit home to states across the ideological board -- Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming.

Here's what you need to know about the big three issues to watch in the Tenth Circuit.

Getting a divorce was not enough for Gwen Bergman. She not only wanted her husband out of her life, but out of this realm. Ms. Bergman dipped into her mother's retirement account to the tune of $30,000 to hire a hit man to murder her husband. The problem? The man she hired was an undercover cop. Ooops.

But that was just the beginning of Ms. Bergman's lack of good judgment. She was duped yet again by her so-called attorney, if you could call him that. You see, he wasn't an attorney, but a con man who had been making a nice living duping many other clients (and courts).

Double oops.

I will be the first to admit that procedure is just not my thing. I like studying issues pertaining to Constitutional law and civil rights. Procedure? Meh. For example, when learning about res judicata in law school, I had to invoke "The Lion King" and sang res judicata to the tune of "Hakuna Matata" just to keep myself from falling asleep.

So, if at any point while reading this you feel the same urge, please feel free to join me in singing (or humming).

So why this case? Because it has the best opening line ever: "The trouble began when Javier and Jesus Carranza approached a dancer at a strip club and offered to pay her for sex." (Oh, and when your editor assigns you a post, you do it).

Oh, the good ol' Tenth Circuit. For a circuit that covers a geographically large portion of the United States, the case law coming out of there can sometimes not be as compelling as circuits with cities like New York or San Francisco. But, that doesn't mean all Tenth Circuit cases are folly. In fact, when they mean business, they get the whole country's attention.

Tenth Circuit in the News

With Utah's large Mormon population, we suppose it was just a matter of time before a polygamy case was heard. And just in time for the end of 2013, Judge Waddoups of the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah struck down Utah's bigamy statutes' cohabitation provision as unconstitutional.

10th Finds Involuntary Medication Not Appropriate

The Tenth Circuit has vacated a court order granting a motion to allow the involuntary medication of the defendant.

Reydecel Chavez is a native of Mexico and was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922, of being an illegal alien in possession of a firearm, also in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922, and reentry of a removed alien, in violation of 8 U.S.C. § 1326(a) and (b).

Chavez was found incompetent to stand trial, due to his paranoid schizophrenia. However, he also refused antipsychotic medication that would help render him competent. The district court, in turn, ordered Chavez to be involuntarily medicated.

You may think of time travel as something straight out of a fiction novel. But last week, the Tenth Circuit took us on a trip down memory lane, as it had to recall the legal landscape in 1997 to determine the rights of a pretrial detainee.

10th Cir: Good Faith Exception Enough, Even Without Probable Cause

The Tenth Circuit has ruled that, even without probable cause, the good faith exception applies to a search warrant.

Julio Ponce appealed the Oklahoma district court's denial of his motion to suppress evidence obtained pursuant to a search warrant that Ponce alleges was issued without valid probable cause.