Articles Posted in Criminal 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

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Kyle Trusty was arrested for driving under the influence after crashing his vehicle. Trusty was taken to the hospital where he consented to a blood test to determine his blood alcohol content. The blood was drawn by a nurse at the hospital, and the arresting officer sent the sample to the police lab. Upon receiving the results, the Department of Public Safety (DPS) revoked Trusty's driver's license. Trusty appealed, and the trial court vacated the revocation because DPS did not call the nurse who drew the blood as a witness to establish that the withdrawal was done in compliance with rules and regulations of the Board of Tests for Alcohol and Drug Influence. DPS appealed, but finding no reversible error, the Oklahoma Supreme Court affirmed. View "Trusty v. Oklahoma" on Justia Law

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Petitioner Rodney Dutton sought an extraordinary writ at the Oklahoma Supreme Court to challenge his convictions in three criminal proceedings in the municipal court for The City of Midwest City. He also requested an alternative remedy that would compel the District Court to provide him with a new appeal of his convictions in the District Court. Dutton alleged that in 2013, he was convicted in the municipal court of the City of Midwest City on charges of assault, public intoxication, and domestic assault and battery, for which he received a thirty-day jail sentence. He stated that he filed three applications for post-conviction relief at the District Court after his release. The District Court dismissed the applications on grounds that they should have been filed with the municipal court in Midwest City. His application for the Supreme Court to assume original jurisdiction was filed approximately one year and three months after his release. Dutton's claims, construed liberally because of his pro se status, alleged numerous constitutional violations and procedural errors at the municipal and district courts that entitled him to the relief he sought. The Supreme Court assumed original jurisdiction for the sole purpose of determining its jurisdiction to review Petitioner's allegations. After review, the Court held that it did not possess jurisdiction to either review the merits of Petitioner's cause of action challenging his municipal criminal convictions or compel the District Court to provide him with a new direct appeal of those convictions to the District Court. Dutton failed to show that he lacked adequate remedies in either a municipal court or the District Court. Dutton's claims were criminal matters and the Supreme Court declined to assume original jurisdiction on his claims or grant him relief on them without prejudice to him presenting them, in the proper court. View "Dutton v. City of Midwest City" on Justia Law

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The State started forefeiture proceedings against a 2011 Honda following a drug arrest. Ashley Bickle was the titled owner of the car, and she was a passenger in the car at the time drugs were found. Craig and Pam Bickle were Ashley's parents and were also listed on the title as owners of the Honda. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Craig and Pam Bickle, finding that the two were entitled to the "innocent owner defense" and possession of the Honda. The Court of Civil Appeals, on de novo review, reversed and remanded for further proceedings. After its review, the Supreme Court concluded that the legislature did not intend for innocent owners to be deprived of their ownership rights by the actions of a guilty party in a vehicle forfeiture proceeding. The statute does not address the specific set of facts presented by this appeal; it addressed a scenario where the owner commits the offense making the vehicle subject to forfeiture. The Court reversed the appellate court and reinstated the judgment of the district court. View "Oklahoma ex rel. Harris v. 2011 Honda" on Justia Law

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Condemned prisoners Clayton Lockett and Charles Warner filed a declaratory judgment action to challenge various practices by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections in carrying out their death penalty sentences. The district court denied most relief requested, but did declare 22 O.S.2011, section 1015(B), to be unconstitutional. The prisoners appealed. Upon review, the Supreme Court affirmed that part of the declaratory judgment that denied condemned prisoners relief and reversed that part that declared 22 O.S.2011, section 1015(B), to be unconstitutional. View "Lockett v. Evans" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-Appellee Mark Muratore was arrested for driving under the influence. He submitted to a breathalyzer test, administered using the Intoxilyzer 8000. As a result of the test, the Department of Public Safety revoked plaintiff's driver's license for one year, and he appealed the revocation to the District Court of Oklahoma County on issues of the admissibility of the breathalyzer test. The trial court vacated the revocation of plaintiff's driver's license, finding that the Board of Tests had no rules in place governing maintenance procedures for the Intoxilyzer 8000 and that the manufacturer's certificate of calibration for this particular Intoxliyzer 8000 and the supplier's certificate of analysis for the gas canister used as a reference method for the Intoxilyzer 8000 were inadmissible hearsay. The Court of Civil Appeals reversed. After its review, the Supreme Court concluded the trial court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to admit the manufacturer's certificate of calibration and the supplier's certificate of analysis. Furthermore, the Court found that the Department of Public Safety did not meet its threshold burden of proving all the facts necessary to sustain the revocation of plaintiff's license, and the record supported the trial court's decision to vacate the revocation of plaintiff's license. View "Muratore v. Oklahoma ex rel. Dept. of Public Safety" on Justia Law

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Petitioner-Appellee, Jerry Butler pled guilty to two counts of "Sexual Abuse of a Minor Child" and received two five-year deferred sentences which ran consecutively. Sometime thereafter, Butler began registration under the Sex Offenders Registration Act. The district court in Sequoyah County issued an order expunging Butler's plea from the record, deleting all references to his name from the docket sheet, deleting the public index of the filing of the charge, and providing no information concerning the file shall (unless ordered by the court). Butler filed a Petition for Injunction to permanently enjoin the Respondent-Appellant, Justin Jones ex rel., State of Oklahoma ex rel., Oklahoma Department of Corrections from requiring him to continue registering under SORA. He argued requiring him to register violated his rights to equal protection of the laws and to due process of law. The Department filed a Motion to Dismiss alleging Butler's deferred sentences and expungement were unlawful. The district court granted a permanent injunction against the Department, finding Butler's case presented an unusual and narrow circumstance and he was indeed denied equal protection of the law. The Supreme Court disagreed with the district court and reversed and remanded its decision for further proceedings. View "Butler v. Jones" on Justia Law

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The Department of Public Safety (DPS) revoked Plaintiff-Appellant Kevin Hedrick's driver's license for 180 days following his arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicants. He filed an appeal with the District Court and attached a photocopy of the order which DPS mailed to him when it revoked his license. DPS objected to the trial court's jurisdiction, arguing that Hedrick had not provided the trial court with a certified copy of its revocation order. DPS refused to provide a certified copy, insisting that it was under no obligation to do so. The trial court dismissed the appeal, and the Court of Civil Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court granted certiorari to address whether a certified copy of a DPS order was required to perfect an appeal of a DPS revocation to the district court; and whether the appeal was timely. Upon review, the Court held that that 47 O.S. Supp. 2007 section 2-111 expressly deems photocopies of DPS records to be considered originals for all purposes and to be admissible as evidence in all courts. Also, pursuant to 12 O.S. 2011 section 3004(3), a certified copy of the DPS order was not required. Furthermore, the appeal was timely. View "Hedrick v. Commissioner of Dept. of Public Safety" on Justia Law