May 26, 2019

Archives for November 18, 2013

Tenth Circuit: Fourth Amendment Search and Seizure Was Lawful

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals published its opinion in United States v. Harris on Friday, November 15, 2013.

Alonzo Johnson was convicted of participating in the contract killing of Neal Sweeney, a Tulsa businessman. While officers worked to build their case against Mr. Johnson, a fair number of facts began pointing to Mr. Harris’s auto shop as a place where evidence might be hidden. So officers secured a warrant to search the shop and, while executing it, came across an illegal gun and drugs belonging to Mr. Harris. As a result, Mr. Harris was convicted of federal charges. Mr. Harris appealed, arguing that the district court should have suppressed the evidence found in his shop or at least granted his motion for a new trial.

Mr. Harris acknowledged that the officers had a warrant for their search and did not contest the manner of its execution. Instead, he argued the warrant was constitutionally defective on its face because it failed to establish a “nexus” between the crime officers sought to investigate and his auto shop.

For a search to qualify as “reasonable” within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment, the court had to discern some “nexus between the contraband to be seized or suspected criminal activity and the place to be searched.” United States v. Gonzales, 399 F.3d 1225, 1228 (10th Cir. 2005). The Tenth Circuit has held that a “sufficient nexus” is established by a search warrant when the materials supporting it describe “circumstances which would warrant a person of reasonable caution [to believe] that the articles sought are at a particular place.” United States v. Biglow, 562 F.3d 1272, 1279 (10th Cir. 2009). For its part, the Supreme Court has held that “[p]robable cause exists when there is a fair probability that contraband or evidence of a crime will be found in a particular place.” United States v. Grubbs, 547 U.S. 90, 95 (2006).

The Tenth Circuit held that, viewed in whole, the information in the record was enough to cause a reasonable person to believe evidence about the murder-for-hire plot could be found at the auto shop. The court held the search here was lawful, the fruits of it were untainted by any Fourth Amendment violation, the evidence presented against Mr. Harris at trial was lawful, and no lawful basis existed to undo the jury’s verdict.

The judgment was AFFIRMED.

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 11/15/13

On Friday, November 15, 2013, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued one published opinion and five unpublished opinions.

Long v. Fulmer

United States v. Nash

Hart v. Capgemini U.S. LLC Welfare

Porras v. Holder

Bledsoe v. Colvin

Case summaries are provided for unpublished opinions. However, published opinions are summarized and provided by Legal Connection.

Governor Hickenlooper Announced Appointments to Judicial Performance Commissions

On Wednesday, November 13, 2013, the governor’s office announced Governor Hickenlooper’s selection of several individuals as members of judicial performance commissions in 21 of Colorado’s 22 judicial districts and the State Judicial Performance Commission.

The Commissions on Judicial Performance evaluate judges and provide recommendations about judge retention for elections. There is one commission in each of the 22 judicial districts and one state commission. Each commission consists of 10 volunteer members: six non-attorneys and four attorneys.  Trial judges’ evaluations are based on surveys results from a random sampling of people who have appeared before the judge: attorneys, jurors, litigants, employees of the court, employees of other state agencies, victims of crime, and other judges. A self-evaluation by the judge is also considered. The State Judicial Performance Commission evaluates Colorado’s appellate judges in a similar manner.

The following people were appointed to Colorado’s district judicial performance commissions:

  • State Judicial Performance Commission — Roland Williams of Westcliffe, to serve as a non-attorney; David Kaplan of Denver, reappointed.
  • 1st Judicial District — Julie Shaw of Black Hawk, to serve as a non-attorney; Anne Schafer of Black Hawk, to serve as a non-attorney.
  • 2nd Judicial District — Leslie N. Herod of Denver, reappointed to serve as a non-attorney.
  • 3rd Judicial District — Lola Spradley of La Veta, to serve as a non-attorney; Sharon Vezzani of Walsenburg, to serve as a non-attorney.
  • 4th Judicial District — Thomas “T.C.” Dantzler, Jr., of Peyton, to serve as a non-attorney; Jody Alyn of Colorado Springs, reappointed to serve as a non-attorney.
  • 5th Judicial District — Thomas Marmins of Silverthorne, to serve as a non-attorney; Emily Tracy of Breckenridge, to serve as a non-attorney.
  • 6th Judicial District — Julie Abril of Durango, to serve as a non-attorney; Carrie “Cissy” Anderson of Durango, reappointed to serve as a non-attorney.
  • 7th Judicial District — Dawn Delany of Gunnison, reappointed to serve as a non-attorney; Donald Mort of Ouray, reappointed to serve as a non-attorney.
  • 8th Judicial District — Anne Wilseck of Fort Collins, to serve as a non-attorney; Rex Shaw of Walden, to serve as a non-attorney.
  • 9th Judicial District — Patricia Blakey of New Castle, to serve as a non-attorney; John Real of Glenwood Springs, reappointed to serve as a non-attorney.
  • 10th Judicial District — Leslie Reindollar of Colorado City, to serve as a non-attorney; Margaret Redmond of Pueblo, to serve as a non-attorney.
  • 11th Judicial District — Louise Fish of Salida, to serve as a non-attorney; John Johnston of Westcliffe, to serve as a non-attorney.
  • 12th Judicial District — Avery Augur of Creede, to serve as a non-attorney; Robert Pacheco of Manassa, reappointed to serve as a non-attorney.
  • 13th Judicial District — Thomas Parks of Yuma, to serve as a non-attorney; Loren Sharp of Fort Morgan, reappointed to serve as a non-attorney.
  • 14th Judicial District — John Daughenbaugh of Steamboat Springs, to serve as a non-attorney; Lynn Abbott of Steamboat Springs, reappointed to serve as a non-attorney.
  • 15th Judicial District — Brenda Stoker of Eads, to serve as a non-attorney; Regina Dorenkamp of Holly, reappointed to serve as a non-attorney.
  • 17th Judicial District — Lori Ella of Northglenn, reappointed to serve as a non-attorney; LuzMaria Banuelos-Shearer of Brighton, reappointed to serve as a non-attorney.
  • 18th Judicial District — Irma Carrera of Lone Tree, to serve as a non-attorney; Susan Thornton of Littleton, reappointed to serve as a non-attorney.
  • 19th Judicial District — Judy Boker of Greeley, to serve as a non-attorney; Kathleen Milligan of Greeley, to serve as a non-attorney.
  • 20th Judicial District — Graham Billingsley of Boulder, reappointed to serve as a non-attorney; Michelle Murphy of Boulder, reappointed to serve as a non-attorney.
  • 21st Judicial District — Kimberly Bullen of Grand Junction, to serve as a non-attorney; William Wade of Grand Junction, reappointed to serve as a non-attorney.
  • 22nd Judicial District — Travis Morgan of Towaoc, reappointed to serve as a non-attorney; Leslie Taylor of Cahone, reappointed to serve as a non-attorney.

For more information on judicial performance commissions, click here.

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 11/14/13

On Thursday, November 14, 2013, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued one published opinion and four unpublished opinions.

Calderon-Rodriguez v. Terry

Jeffrey v. CP Kelco U.S.

United States v. Galindo

Wilson v. Jones

Case summaries are provided for unpublished opinions. However, published opinions are summarized and provided by Legal Connection.