5th Circuit Blog

Daily Round-Up (Aug. 1, 2014)

By Razvan Ungureanu on August 01, 2014


Published Opinions:

1) In a death penalty appeal, Williams v. Stephens, the Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of habeas relief.  The Fifth Circuit rejected petitioner's arguments that trial counsel was ineffective and that he was intellectually disabled under Atkins.  

2) U.S. v. Massi explores the relationship between the fruits-of-the-poisonous-tree doctrine and the Leon exception to the exclusionary rule.  The defendant, whom federal agents suspected was trafficking narcotics, was detained at an airport inside his airplane while the agents conducted a Terry stop and then spent approximately 5 hours preparing an affidavit and obtaining a search warrant from a magistrate to search the plane.  Both the majority and the dissent agree that the inial Terry stop became an arrest, and that the agents lacked probable cause for the arrest.  Nevertheless, the majority held that the evidence uncovered as a result of the search warrant that followed the unconstitutional arrest should not be suppressed.  The majority explained that the prolonged detention was "close enough to the line of validity" that an objectively reasonable officer preparing the affidavit for the search warrant would belive in the validity of the prior conduct.

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