Rainwater Law Group

Effective Criminal Defense

Zavala v Ives, No. 13-56615 [May 18, 2015]

Zavala v. Ives 

The Court held, "that where ICE detains an alien pending potential criminal prosecution, that detention constitutes "official detention" within the meaning of § 3585(b) and the alien is according entitled to credit toward his criminal sentence." [refusing to follow other courts which have denied such credits] The Court distinguished the denial of credits for pre-trial release, by the Supreme Court, on the grounds a defendant was "released" from official detention to a private facility, whereas in the instant case detention by ICE is detention and not a "release." The Court also found that contrary to the government's argument the statute does not require detention in the BOP. The Court remanded to the district court for a hearing on the issue of whether the detention was for a pending potential criminal prosecution.

Riley v. McDaniel, No. 11-99004 [May 15, 2015]

Riley v. McDaniel

The district court found that the state trial court committed constitutional error by instructing the jury that if they found “premeditation,” it had necessarily found “deliberation” in petitioner’s murder trial, as Nevada law, at the time, treated each as distinct elements of first –degree murder. The court found the error was not harmless, as found by the district court, because of significant evidence that Riley’s cocaine intoxication and emotional agitation might well have created a reasonable doubt as to “whether the murder was committed with deliberation as well as with premeditation.” The prosecution’s use of the instruction in closing argument bolstered the finding that the error was not harmless. Further, the court was not able to conclude if the jury had convicted on a felony murder theory as the verdict was a general one and the prosecution extensively argued the premeditated theory.


​Comstock v. Humphries, No. 14-15311 [May 12, 2015]

Comstock v. Humphries

The petitioner made a claim under Brady v. Maryland when the state failed to share with him the victim's statement that he may have lost the alleged stolen ring, therefore, supporting Comstock's defense at trial. The court looked at the three components of Brady: (1) the evidence at issue must be favorable to the accused, (2) the evidence must have been suppressed by the State, and (3) the suppression must have been prejudicial. The Court found that the all three components were established by the evidence and that "state court's contrary conclusion was an unreasonable application of Brady and its progeny. The court further held, that this was not a close case and when the key witness has reasonable doubts about whether a crime occurred the prosecution must share that information with the defense. 

​Patterson v. Wagner, No. 13-56080 [May 4, 2015]

Patterson v. Wagner

This is an appeal challenging an order certifying Mr. Patterson for extradition to South Korea for a murder charge. The court found that neither the extradition treaty between the two countries nor the Status of Forces Agreement ("SOFA") bars extradition and since a magistrates authority is limited to determining an individual's determination of eligibility for extradition they affirmed the order. Under the treaty Patterson argued that his prosecution was barred because the U.S. statute of limitations had run [but the court said this was not a mandatory provision of the treaty, which allowed discretion to extradite after the statute has run] and under the SOFA the prosecution violate his double jeopardy rights [The Court found the SOFA rights cannot be judicial enforced to block extradition]


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