Criminal Law Case Updates for July 29, 2014:

From the 11th Circuit, courtesy of

United States v. Watkins:

A defendant contended that police illegally searched his computer without his consent, which resulted in charges against him for receipt of child pornography by computer, over the internet.  The Court held that because his wife consented to a full search of the computer, his rights under Georgia v. Randolph, were not violated.  The Court affirmed the judgment of the district court.


Bottom Line:

Any consent to search or seizure, whether made by you, a member of your household, the landlord of your house a co-defendant, etc., can harm your case.  Therefore, it is important you as well as others understand that your legal rights may be affected by others who are cooperating with law enforcement.


Taylor v. Seceretary, FL Dept. of Corrections:

The Court affirmed the judgment of the district court, which denied Taylor’s petition for habeas relief.  Taylor was convicted of Murder 1 and sexual battery.  The Court found that the district court reasonably applied the law when it refused to grant Taylor’s petition for relief based on the exclusion of the victim’s sisters’ proffered testimony.  Further, trial counsel calling Taylor to the stand to testify and re-enact the murder for the jury was not unreasonable under Strickland v. Washington.


Bottom Line:

Testimony, whether or not used in a murder trial, can have a lasting effect on your criminal case.  As in this instance, the trial court excluded the testimony, which presumably would have helped the defendant with his defense.

The issue regarding the re-enactment of the murder the defendant acted out at the request of his trial counsel, for the jury, appeared to have hurt his case.  The Court did not find that trial counsel acted in a matter that would allow Taylor to have a successful ineffective of assistance claim against trial counsel that would help his case.

It is important in a criminal matter that trial counsel and the client discuss the potentially damaging effects of testifying before a jury, especially in a case a serious as this one.  The client needs to have a full understanding of what is at stake and how his defense(s) may be compromised by exercising his right to testify, as well as how a potential jury may view him re-enacting the crime.  There is a reason why criminal defense attorneys often discourage their clients from taking the stand in cases.  In other cases, it is the only option they may have for establishing a possible defense.  ALWAYS be cautious when deciding whether to take the stand in your own defense.


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