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Decisions In Criminal Matters, Plus Two-Hour Limit Between Arrest and Release Reversed

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By FindLaw Staff on July 26, 2010 1:20 PM

Ward v. Jenkins, 08-2809, concerned a challenge to the district court's denial of defendant's request for habeas relief from his conviction for felony theft by contractor and felony bail jumping after taking down payments from customers of his home improvement business without doing any of the work he contracted to do.  In remanding the matter, the court held that defendant is entitled to an evidentiary hearing regarding his claim that his counsel rendered ineffective assistance by refusing to file a motion to withdraw his guilty plea.

US v. Sanders, 09-1119, concerned a challenge to a conviction of defendant for being a felon in possession of a firearm and a 105-month sentence.  In affirming both the conviction and the sentence, the court held that the district court's limitation on the exploration of the Miranda issue, if error at all, was harmless, and that defendant's challenge to the district court's application of a two-level sentencing enhancement for obstruction of justice is frivolous.

Portis v. City of Chicago, 09-1498, concerned a class action lawsuit against the city of Chicago, alleging that taking more than two hours to perform the steps needed to get from the generation of a Central Booking number to an arrestee's release makes the detention unreasonable and violates the Fourth Amendment.  The court reversed the district court's two-hour rule in agreeing with the plaintiffs, in concluding that the district court did not explain why it set a time limit for a particular part of the process.  Furthermore, what is reasonable or not is how much time passes between arrest and release, in relation to the reasons for detention, the time for each step along the way is not subject to an independent limit. The court also held that, because reasonableness is a standard rather than a rule, and because one detainee's circumstances differ from another's, common questions do not predominate and class certification is inappropriate.

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