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Decisions in Criminal Cases, Including Challenge to a Life Sentence

By FindLaw Staff on May 14, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

In Johnson v. US, No. 08-1777, the Seventh Circuit faced a challenge to the district court's denial of defendant's motion to vacate his life sentence for his conviction of possession with intent to distribute at least 50 grams of crack cocaine.  District court's decision is vacated and remanded as defendant established a genuine issue of material fact as to whether his trial counsel's performance was deficient in deciding not to pursue the Fourth Amendment challenge in a motion to suppress, which was based upon a misunderstanding of the applicable law and not based on a reasonable trial strategy. On remand, an evidentiary hearing is necessary to resolve the factual issues of whether defendant consented to a search of his vehicle.     

US v. Taylor, No. 09-2575, concerned a challenge to a conviction of defendant for armed robbery and other related crimes and sentence to 444 months' imprisonment.  In affirming the conviction, the court held that the evidence of defendant's guilt was overwhelming and he cannot prevail by challenging the district court's decision to condition a pastor's testimony on the defendant's taking the stand himself, as the trial court did not abuse its discretion in making this evidentiary determination.     

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