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Denial of Habeas Petition in Murder Prosecution Upheld, Plus Criminal and Property Law Matters

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By FindLaw Staff on June 21, 2010 3:06 PM

In Murdoch v. Castro, No. 05-55665, a murder prosecution, the court of appeals affirmed the denial of petitioner's habeas petition, holding that, because the Supreme Court has not clearly established whether and in what circumstances the attorney-client privilege must give way in order to protect a defendant's Sixth Amendment confrontation rights, the California state court could not have unreasonably applied clearly established Supreme Court law when it denied petitioner access to an allegedly exculpatory letter sent by a witness.

Edwards v. First Am. Corp., No. 08-56536, involved an action claiming that defendant improperly paid millions of dollars to individual title companies and, in exchange, those title companies entered into exclusive referral agreements with defendant.  The court of appeals affirmed the denial of defendants' motion to dismiss the complaint, on the ground that the text of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act did not limit liability to instances in which a plaintiff was overcharged.

In US v. Batson, No. 09-50238, a prosecution for conspiracy to commit tax fraud, the court of appeals affirmed in part defendant's restitution order, on the ground that the district court was authorized to order restitution for a violation of Title 26 as a condition of supervised release by 18 U.S.C. section 3563(b)(2), which granted courts broad discretion to order restitution as a condition of probation, and 18 U.S.C. section 3583(d), which made that grant applicable to supervised release.  However, the court vacated in part, holding that restitution so ordered must be limited to the offense of conviction when, as here, that offense does not involve an element of a "scheme, conspiracy, or pattern of criminal activity."

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