Since I’ve not had the chance to read through many Supreme Court and Eleventh Circuit opinions lately, I thought I’d try to catch up. A word of caution: if you are a South Florida criminal defense or criminal appeals lawyer needing some good news, you won’t find it here.
The Eleventh Circuit has been busy handing down opinions at a pretty good clip. In Booker v. Secretary, Florida Dept. of Corrections, No. 10-14966, the Court affirmed the denial of a 2254 petition for habeas relief. In so doing, the Court held that the state trial court’s refusal to instruct the jury on Booker’s eligibility for parole was neither contrary to, nor an unreasonable application of, Simmons v. South Carolina, 512 U.S. 154 (1994). In Trepal v. Secretary, Florida Department of Corrections, No. 10-15306, the Court affirmed another denial of a 2254 petition for habeas. Although the opinion is quite long-72 pages-it’s a good one to read if you have some spare time. In addition to the discussion of the standards of Giglio v. United States, 405 U.S. 150 (1972) and Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), the opinion might also make you think twice about what can happen if you’re not nice to your neighbors. In a case that originates from the Southern District of Florida, United States v. Welch, No. 10-14649, the Court examined the voluntariness of a consent to a search, the “fruit of the poisonous tree” doctrine, and whether a Florida conviction for robbery is a “violent felony” for purposes of the Armed Career Criminal Act. (Hint: the consent was voluntarily given, there was no fruit of the poisonous tree, and the Florida conviction for robbery qualifies as a “violent felony.”) My favorite part of the opinion? Footnote 20.
Finally, in Parker v. Matthews, No. 11-845, the United States Supreme Court issued an opinion that reads like a smackdown of the 6th Circuit. A mere 13 pages long, the pointed tone with which the opinion is written leaves no doubt about how wrong the Sixth Circuit’s decision was.