Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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Defendant-appellee Jake Watkins was driving under the influence of alcohol and rear-ended a vehicle owned and operated by plaintiff-appellant Lee McIntosh. McIntosh's vehicle was damaged and he and the former co-plaintiff Anthony McIntosh were injured. Both vehicles pulled over to the shoulder of the road and the parties exited their vehicles to discuss the accident and to inspect the damage. At some point plaintiff stated he needed to call the police to report the accident. When Watkins heard this he returned to his vehicle and fled the scene without providing McIntosh any information required by law. Watkins was later arrested and charged with two counts: (1) driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol; and (2) leaving the scene of an accident involving damage. He pled no contest to the two counts and received a deferred judgment and sentence.Months late, McIntosh signed a settlement agreement which settled all of his bodily injury claims for the sum of $25,000.00. McIntosh was also paid $17,545.66 to fully repair his vehicle and an additional $7,000.00 for the diminution of value claim. The only remaining issue left to be decided by the trial court was whether McIntosh was entitled to receive treble damages for the damage sustained to his vehicle. Watkins moved for summary judgment on the treble damages issue, which the trial court granted, finding McIntosh was not entitled to treble damages due to the fact he had incurred not only property damage to his vehicle but he also sustained a nonfatal injury. McIntosh appealed the trial court's ruling on that issue. The Oklahoma Supreme Court reversed, finding the treble damage provision in 47 O.S. 2011, section 10-103 applied even if a victim sustains an injury. View "McIntosh v. Watkins" on Justia Law

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In 2008, the Purcell, Oklahoma Police Department arrested the petitioner-appellee, D. A. for Larceny of CDS (a controlled dangerous substance), unlawful possession of CDS and obtaining CDS by forgery/fraud. The State charged her with three felonies. Upon the State's request, the trial court dismissed the larceny and obtaining CDS by forgery/fraud; subsequently, the court entered a five year deferred sentence for the remaining count of possession of CDS. Then in October 2010, the McClain County Sheriff arrested D.A. for two counts of obtaining (or attempted) CDS by forgery/fraud. A plea deal provided that, upon successful completion of drug court, the latest two counts would be dismissed. However, if she did not successfully complete drug court, then she would receive fifteen years with the Department of Corrections. In 2013, D.A. was accepted into a drug court in McClain County. She successfully completed drug court, and the trial.court dismissed D.A.' two nonviolent felony counts in 2015. In 2017, D.A. filed a petition for expungement of both of her arrests, charges, and court dispositions pursuant to 22 O.S. Supp 2016 section 18(7). The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) entered an appearance and objected, arguing that a drug court's dismissal of charges upon the successful completion of the program was statutorily exempt from eligibility for expungement. The trial court denied the OSBI's objection and granted the petition for expungement. The OSBI appealed. The Oklahoma Supreme Court held a drug court's dismissal following successful conclusion of the drug court program was not excluded from expungement under 22 O.S. Supp. 2016 section 18, and may be expunged immediately, after successful completion of the program and the charges have been dismissed. View "D. A. v. Oklahoma ex rel. Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation" on Justia Law

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Russell Foutch and Randall Barrios died while incarcerated in Oklahoma jails: Barrios by his own hand; Foutch from complications related to pneumonia. Their estates sued the respective jails, one sheriff, and various employees and healthcare contractors of those jails. Their claims included: (1) federal civil rights claims under 42 U.S.C. 1983 alleging violations of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments of the federal constitution; (2) negligence and wrongful death claims; (3) negligent conduct, training, hiring, and supervision claims; and (4) tort claims alleging violations of rights guaranteed by Sections 7 and 9 of Article II of the Oklahoma Constitution. Two federal courts certified questions of law to the Oklahoma Supreme Court: (1) the Governmental Tort Claims Act renders the State immune from any tort suit arising out of the "[p]rovision, equipping, operation or maintenance of any prison, jail or correctional facility." Do Sections 7 and 9 of Article II of the Oklahoma Constitution nonetheless allow an inmate to bring a tort claim for denial of medical care? and (2) if so, is the private cause of action to be recognized retrospectively? Responding required the Court to determine whether to extend the holding in Bosh v. Cherokee County Governmental Building Authority (305 P.3d 994) to include tort claims brought by inmates alleging violations of their rights to due process and to be free from cruel or unusual punishments. The Oklahoma Legislature responded to Bosh by amending the Governmental Tort Claims Act ("GTCA"), 51 O.S. 151 et seq., to clarify that the State's immunity from suit extended even to so-called "constitutional" torts. The Court, therefore, answered the first certified question "no," and did not reach the second question. View "Barrios v. Haskell County Public Facilities Authority" on Justia Law

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Appellant, John Burks was a bondsman who posted one hundred thousand dollar ($100,000) bail for defendant Billy Durfey in a criminal case. Durfey did not appear in court and the court forfeited the bond. On December 15, 2014, the same day that Durfey failed to appear, the bondsman made a written request to the Sheriff's office that Durfey be entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database. The bondsman did not place any restrictions or limitations on his request and he signed a letter agreeing to pay for all extradition expenses incurred in returning Durfey to Garvin County, Oklahoma. Days later, Burks learned that the Sheriff's office had entered Durfey into the database, but that the extradition directive had been geographically limited to Oklahoma and its surrounding states. At his own expense, Burks conducted an investigation for Durfey which led him to Montana. Local law enforcement, however, was unable to assist Burks because Durfey was not listed in the NCIC database due to the restrictions placed by the Garvin County Sherriff. Burks again contacted the Sheriff's office and asked that any territorial restrictions be removed. It was not until the Bondsman obtained information that Durfey may have traveled to Mexico that an Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper assigned to the U.S. Marshal's office got involved. The Sheriff ultimately lifted the geographical restrictions pursuant to the Highway Patrol's request. The bondsman paid the bond forfeiture after he was unable to apprehend Durfey and return him to Garvin County. The only question presented to the Oklahoma Supreme Court in this case was whether, under the facts of this case, the bondsman was entitled to remittance of the posted bond pursuant to 59 O.S. Supp. 2014 section 1332. The Supreme Court found Burks fully complied with 59 O.S. Supp. 2014 section 1332, yet the Sheriff did not honor his request within the statutory period. Consequently, the bond was exonerated by operation of law. Burks presented convincing evidence of good cause why Durfey did not appear. The bondsman was entitled to remittance of the posted bond pursuant to statute. View "Oklahoma v. Durfey" on Justia Law

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Daniel Phillips was convicted of multiple counts of indecent or lewd acts with children under the age of sixteen. The mother of the children sued Phillips, alleging various torts arising out of his crimes. The mother moved for partial summary judgment in the case, arguing that Phillips's conviction for the crimes established his liability for the torts. In response, Phillips argued that because his conviction was the product of an Alford plea--where a defendant admitted there was sufficient evidence to support a conviction, but nonetheless insisted that he did not commit the crimes--his conviction could not preclude him from disputing liability in the civil case. The district court agreed with the mother, granting partial summary adjudication in her favor on the issue of liability. Phillips asked the district court to certify that decision for immediate review. The district court did so, and Phillips timely petitioned the Oklahoma Supreme Court for certiorari. The Court granted the petition and, finding no reversible error in the district court's decision, affirmed. View "Martin v. Phillips" on Justia Law

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Appellant Robert Parsons was charged with first degree murder, but was subsequently adjudged not guilty by reason of insanity. At a hearing following Appellant's acquittal, the trial court determined he was a continuing threat of danger to the public, and ordered him committed to the Oklahoma Forensic Center. After making progress in his treatment, the Oklahoma Forensic Review Board recommended Appellant begin a group therapy program one day per week at a facility outside of OFC. The District Attorney protested the FRB's treatment proposal, and the trial judge sustained the State's objection. Appellant sought review of the trial court's ruling; however, the OCCA transferred the matter to the Oklahoma Supreme Court. At issue was whether the case presented criminal or civil law issues. The Oklahoma Supreme Court found the issues pertaining to Appellant's therapeutic visits, under 22 O.S.2011 sec. 1161(F), were civil in nature and were properly within its jurisdiction. Furthermore, the Court concluded the trial court's order sustaining the State's objection to therapeutic visits was erroneous. View "Parsons v. Dist. Court of Pushmataha Cty." on Justia Law

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In October 2015, Petitioner Adam Fry brought a proceeding for an order to "deregister" as a sex offender. Petitioner contended he was entitled to this relief based on an earlier order entered by the sentencing judge in his Pottawatomie County criminal case. In that case, Petitioner received a five year deferred sentence based on his plea to a charge of rape by instrumentation. As a consequence of this sentence, Petitioner was originally required to register as a sex offender for life. In October 2009, however, the sentencing judge granted an "override" of Petitioner's lifetime registration requirement, pursuant to 57 O.S.Supp.2008, sec. 582.5(D). The sentencing judge's override order reduced the period for registration to fifteen years from the completion of his five year deferred sentence. Section 582.5(D) was repealed, effective November 1, 2009. While not participating in the Pottawatomie County proceeding, Department of Corrections (DOC) received the override order and did not seek relief therefrom either in the district court or on appeal. In October 2015, Petitioner sought deregistration because DOC would not honor the Pottawatomie County override order. Over the objection of DOC, the district court in Canadian County enforced the Pottawatomie County override order and ordered that Petitioner be removed from the Oklahoma Sex Offender Registry. DOC appealed. The Oklahoma Supreme Court that in cases like Petitioner's, where override relief was timely sought and granted pursuant to section 582.5(D), and neither the prosecuting District Attorney nor DOC appealed, or otherwise timely challenged the override order, DOC was required to honor and implement the "requirements of registration" adjudicated in such an order. The Court affirmed the deregistration order. View "Fry v. Oklahoma ex rel Department of Corrections" on Justia Law

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Replevin is not the only remedy to recover that is no longer needed as evidence. An inmate acting pro se filed a pleading in his criminal case, seeking return of a computer, a photo camera and a movie camera, alleging this property had nothing to do with the criminal charges. The inmate called his pleading a petition for writ of replevin. In response, the District Attorney denied ever having custody of the property. The trial court denied relief, ruling: (1) the inmate failed to follow proper procedure provided by statute to initiate replevin; and (2) he could not use a writ to try to regain property from a party that does not possess such property. The inmate appealed. The Oklahoma Supreme Court agreed that replevin was not a remedy available to the inmate here. However, the Court concluded that other remedies may have been available, so the case was remanded for the trial court to consider granting relief pursuant to 22 O.S.2001, section 1321. View "Kolosha v. Oklahoma" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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A delay of approximately sixteen months occurred between the arrest of the plaintiff-appellee Nathan Nichols, Jr. for driving under the influence and the administrative hearing resulting in revocation of his driver's license. Certiorari was granted to address a single issue: whether the delay constituted a violation of the constitutional right to a speedy trial guaranteed by the Oklahoma Constitution Article 2, Section 6.1. The trial court set aside the revocation order and reinstated Nichols' driving privileges. The Court of Civil Appeals reversed. Other than funding and personnel constraints, the Department presented no viable reason for the delay. Under the facts of this case, the Supreme Court held that the driver's right to a speedy hearing was violated, and ordered reinstatement of his driving privileges. View "Nichols v. Oklahoma ex. rel. Dept. of Public Safety" on Justia Law

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In 2014, a Norman restaurant's surveillance video captured an incident depicting Joe Mixon striking a woman. The Norman Police Department (Department) was called to the location, investigated, and obtained and reviewed the surveillance video. On Friday, August 15, 2014, a Department detective filed an affidavit of probable cause seeking an arrest warrant for Mixon. The detective stated probable cause existed based on interviews completed by other officers, injuries sustained by the victim, and the surveillance video of the incident which he described in detail. The same day, the Cleveland County District Attorney filed a criminal information, referencing the same incident number as the probable cause affidavit and alleging that Mixon committed the misdemeanor crime of Acts Resulting in Gross Injury when he struck the female. Mixon voluntarily appeared in district court to answer the charge and was arraigned. At the same time, the district court ordered Mixon to be processed by the Cleveland County Sheriff's Department and to remain in custody pending his posting a bond. KWTV News 9, a member of the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters (Association), requested a copy of the surveillance video from Department and District Attorney, referencing the Open Records Act. The Norman City Attorney emailed KWTV News 9 that, barring changes, such as the judge ordering the video sealed, he did "not know of a reason why [Department] would not be willing to make copies of the Mixon video available for public inspection and copying after November 1." Without furnishing copies of the video, the Department allowed KWTV News 9 and other media to view the video. Association was not present at this viewing. Mixon entered an Alford Plea to the criminal charge. The same day, Association made a request under the Act for a copy of the surveillance video from the City and the Department and KWTV News 9 renewed its request. District Attorney responded, informing Association that it no longer had the video as it had given the video to the victim. City told KWTV News 9 that Department had delivered a copy of the video to the City Attorney, who placed it in a litigation file. The Association filed petition for declaratory judgment, injunctive relief, and mandamus. Defendants filed motions to dismiss. The district court granted the motion. Plaintiff appealed. The Court of Civil Appeals affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded the proceedings. The Supreme Court concluded that the Association was entitled to judgment as a matter of law and entitled to a writ of mandamus. The video was ordered to be a part of the court record and preserved by the attorneys. The Defendants had to allow the Association a copy of the surveillance video. View "Oklahoma Assoc. of Broadcasters, Inc. v. City of Norman" on Justia Law