Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of a petition for habeas relief challenging a sentencing enhancement for a prior nonjury juvenile conviction and for a gang-related crime. Petitioner argued that the evidence supporting the gang enhancement was constitutionally insufficient under Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307 (1979), and that the enhancement for his nonjury juvenile conviction violated Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466 (2000). The panel held that it was objectively unreasonable to conclude that the evidence was sufficient for a reasonable jury to find the robbery was committed "in association with" a gang; but it was not objectively unreasonable to conclude that the evidence was sufficient for a reasonable jury to find the robbery was committed "for the benefit of" a gang. The panel also held that the juvenile conviction claim was procedurally barred, and the sentencing enhancements based on nonjury juvenile convictions did not violate any clearly established federal law as determined by the United States Supreme Court. View "Johnson v. Montgomery" on Justia Law

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In this appeal, the parties disputed the maximum term of official detention that can be imposed upon revocation of juvenile delinquent supervision when the juvenile is more than 21 years old at the time of the revocation proceeding. Defendant argued that the duration of previously ordered terms of official detention is always subtracted from the maximum term prescribed by 18 U.S.C. 5037(c)(2). The Ninth Circuit vacated the district court's imposition of the 34 month term of official detention following revocation of defendant's juvenile delinquent supervision. The panel held that the text and structure of section 5037(d)(5), its legislative history, and the Federal Juvenile Delinquency Act's motivating purpose supported defendant's construction of section 5037(d)(5). In this case, defendant was entitled to credit for "any term of official detention previously ordered," and thus the maximum term of official detention that could have been imposed upon revocation of his juvenile delinquent supervision was 14 months. View "United States v. Juvenile Male" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed a juvenile defendant's life sentence without parole where the juvenile was convicted of felony murder and other crimes. The panel held that the district court did not err in resentencing defendant by first calculating and using the sentencing guideline range of life imprisonment; under Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012), and Montgomery v. Louisiana, 136 S. Ct. 718 (2016), the district court was required to consider the hallmark features of youth before imposing a sentence of life without parole on a juvenile offender; and the district court took into account evidence of defendant's rehabilitation as part of its inquiry into whether defendant was a member of a class of permanently incorrigible juvenile offenders. View "United States v. Briones, Jr." on Justia Law

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Neither the Due Process Clause nor the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. 1101 et seq., creates a categorical right to court-appointed counsel at government expense for alien minors. The Ninth Circuit held that, to the extent the IJ failed to provide all the trappings of a full and fair hearing in this case, any shortcomings did not prejudice the outcome because the IJ adequately developed the record on issues that were dispositive to petitioner's claims for relief. The panel also held that the IJ was not required to advise petitioner of a separate state court process that could ultimately form the predicate for petitioner's application for Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) status with the IJ. Finally, the panel declined to reversed the Board's denial of petitioner's asylum, withholding of removal, and CAT claims, because substantial evidence supported the BIA's determination that petitioner was ineligible for relief. View "C.J.L.G. v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of a habeas corpus petition where petitioner challenged his conviction for second degree murder and attempted murder. Petitioner was fourteen years old at the time he was found guilty of the crimes. The panel held that the government relied on a coerced waiver of the right to counsel to secure the conviction because petitioner did not knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waive such right. Because admission of petitioner's confession was not harmless, the panel granted relief under 42 U.S.C. 2254. View "Rodriguez v. McDonald" on Justia Law