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Eugene Criminal Attorney Round-up September 2017

At Eugene law firm Veralrud and Fowler, we endeavor to keep up with the latest legal news. The following are summaries of some of the most important criminal defense lawyer cases of the last month.

Eugene Criminal Attorney Case Studies

Johnston v. Mitchell, Case Number 16-2277 in the First Circuit Court of the United States

In this case, the importance of choosing the right defense comes to the forefront. The defendant was brought into court on a First-Degree Murder charge. His criminal defense attorneys decided on a mental health defense. When Johnston was found guilty, lawyers appealed the case based on several instances while in custody at a mental health facility where Johnson requested a lawyer be present while he was being interviewed by mental health professionals. The court ruled against Johnston in this case, basing the decision on the fact that Johnston’s mental health defense required the testimony of mental health professionals. Since mental health professionals are not under the same professional obligations as police officers, and since Johnston’s own lawyers decided to admit psychiatric evidence, things did not go Johnston’s way.

P. v. Williams, Case Number 275226 in the California Court of Appeals

This case just goes to show that even the most careful criminals can be caught. On private property, a small group of individuals were running a dog-fighting ring. They trained their dogs with special equipment, attempting to mold them into killing machines. Those dogs who could not or would not perform were subjected to wanton cruelty and deprivation. All this happened well out of public view; only members of the dog-fighting ring knew about the secret location.
All that changed when an officer followed a stray horse back to its property. Upon arriving, the officer happened upon substantial evidence of the dog-fighting activities: the equipment used to train the dogs for fighting and the unhealthy living conditions the animals endured.
After the initial conviction, Willams’ lawyers moved to suppress evidence and quash and traverse the warrant based on the fact that the officer did not enter the property looking for evidence of dog-fighting activities but rather looking for loose dogs that may have spooked the horse. The court ruled that exigent circumstances drove the officer to his actions, not an extralegal desire to investigate a crime without a proper warrant.

U. S. v. Faggai, Case Number 10621 in the Ninth Circuit Court of the United States

In a troubling decision emerging from the Ninth Circuit Court, persistent pervasive surveillance takes another small step toward reality.
Jacob Del Mundo Faagi was a methamphetamine peddler living in Hawaii who had the misfortune of being cousins and business partners with Makusi Penatani. Penatani was picked up in July 2012 with 14 ounces of methamphetamine and $3600. In a secret plea deal, Penatani decided to become state’s witness against his cousin.
This began a serious of events during which officers performed pervasive persistent surveillance against Faagi. Rifling through his text messages, they began to create for themselves models of “codewords” they suspected Faagi and his associates were using. The slowly began building up a “dictionary” containing these suspected codewords, until after four months they felt the time was right to strike.
Based on information obtained from the wiretap, the officers waited until they were fairly certain Faagi was carrying drugs before pulling him over in his truck. After pulling him over, they performed a search of his car where they recovered drug paraphernalia and about a half-pound of methamphetamine.
Faagi moved to suppress this evidence based on the notion that “coded messages” intercepted through text messages were not probable cause to perform a vehicle search. Even if police knew about Faagi’s ties to Penatani, that still would not amount to probable cause.
The Ninth Circuit disagreed with Faagi. They ruled that the officers were completely in the right based on the evidence they had obtained through the wiretap, even though that evidence was based on codewords which had not at that point been confirmed as meaning what the officers insisted they meant.
Only time will tell whether this case makes it to the Supreme Court. The implications of this case for privacy law could be huge.

P. v. Wallace III, Case Number 149049 in the California Court of Appeals

In another case, privacy cases gained a major victory.
On March 18, 2015, Officer Michael Ambrose heard Leroy Wallace III’s name over the police radio. Aware that Wallace was wanted on a domestic violence charge, Ambrose drove his cruiser to the place Wallace III was pulled over for a traffic violation. He let the other officer know about the outstanding charge, and proceeded to search Wallace III’s car without Wallace III’s consent or a warrant. There he found a stick with tape on one end sticking out between the front seat and the center console of the car.
Ambrose would claim in court that he was acting under the auspices of an “Inventory Search” and therefor did not need to worry about things like the 4th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America. Furthermore, Ambrose claimed, it was inevitable that he would find that stick eventually were he to have the car towed.
Wallace III claimed that Ambrose never performed an “Inventory Search” based on the fact that Ambrose never actually filled out any paperwork indicating he was performing an “Inventory Search” even though such paperwork was readily available. This meant that the “Possession of a Baton” charge would have to be dropped.
The court agreed. There was no way whether to determine Ambrose really intended to perform an inventory search or just wanted a free shot to see whether he could bring up Wallace III on even more charges.

Eugene Defense Attorneys When You Need Them

Eugene, Oregon’s Veralrud and Fowler keep up on the latest cases so you don’t have to. With expert legal teams and years of criminal defense lawyer experience, Veralrud and Fowler are ready to take on your case.

Give Us a Call at 541-345-3333 for a Free Consultation About Your Case or Send Us an Email Below

975 Oak Street, Suite 798

Eugene, OR 97401

Phone  (541) 345-3333
Fax  (541) 342-1908

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