Cases and Jurisdiction

Cases and Jurisdiction

State of Dakota v Richard Allen Ringquist Criminal Nos. 870361 & 870362

            In the case of State of Dakota v Richard Allen Ringquist the State of Dakota appealed against a District Court’s ruling to suppress evidence under the exclusionary rule.  The evidence in question was obtained pursuant to a search warrant which was issued under the jurisdiction of a County Court in N. Dakota.  Although the warrant itself was issued by the County Court it gave rise to questions relevant to the Federal Constitution and in particular the Fourth Amendment which requires that warrants be issued upon proof of probable cause.   The issue of whether or not a warrant was issued pursuant to the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution was therefore a Federal function.

            However, the ultimate issue turned on whether or not the evidence used in support of the application for search warrant was properly before the court.  It was determined in State of Dakota v Richard Allen Ringquist that in order to ascertain whether or not the evidence used was sufficient to establish probable cause was ultimately a matter for the State Constitution and as such was a matter for State rather than Federal jurisdiction.  The reason for this was that each case must be determined on its own particular facts and as such it would be impossible to impose an all encompassing standard for the type of or kind of evidence that would be required to substantiate probable cause.

Although a constitutionally protected right would be determined at State level.  Had this been a case based on a claim of an illegal search warrant or the obtaining of evidence by virtue of no warrant it would have been a Fourth Amendment claim without more and therefore it would fall under Federal jurisdiction.  In other words it was a question of fact which was primarily a matter for the jurisdiction of the county court seized of the application for the search warrant and was not a question law, more particularly constitutional law. (State of Dakota v Richard Allen Ringquist)

The People of the State of Colorado v Robert Turner. Case No. 04SA178

            The appellant’s claim in the case of The People of the State of Colorado v Robert Turner was founded on constitutional claims and as such is a matter for Federal jurisdiction.  However, since the case challenged the interpretation and application of a State statute it also involved issues for the State court which is the best venue for the interpretation and application of a State legislative provision.  The constitutional challenge was based on a claim that the state statute which forbids the disclosure of communications between a victim of a sexual assault and a victims’ advocate denied the appellant his Sixth Amendment constitutional right to cross-examine his or her accusers.

            The complaint although constitutional in nature turned on the interpretation and the application of State legislation and as such remained in the jurisdiction of the State courts.  The Supreme Court of Colorado determined that the constitutional right to cross-examination was not an absolute right in any event when it came to victims of sexual assaults.  The court also went on to explain that Congress had already passed laws calculated to encourage sexual assault victims and victims of domestic abuse to speak up.

Moreover, having regard to these facts and the fact that the Colorado statute defined the communications between the sexual assault victim and the victims’ advocate as an absolute privilege, the appellant had no right to those records at state level and could not claim a constitutional infringement of his right to cross-examine the victim.  Therefore the claim was not constitutional thereby taking it out of the jurisdiction of the Federal courts and placing it solely within the jurisdiction of the state courts.

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Cirucit v. David Lopez-Montanez No. 04-502060

            The case of United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Cirucit v. David Lopez-Montanez No. 04-502060 is in principle similar to the case of The People of the State of Colorado v Robert Turner in the sense that original jurisdiction is primarily an interpretation of state legislation.  The question in this case as in the case of The People of the State of Colorado v Robert Turner is whether or not upon a proper construction of the statute within the facts of the case should Federal Law apply and as such assume jurisdiction over the matter.

            In the case of case of United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Cirucit v. David Lopez-Montanez federal Sentencing Guidelines would only apply if the State legislation founded a conviction bringing the offence within the sentencing guidelines.  The question for the Circuit judge in Pasadena, California was whether or not a “forcible sex offense” under a California Statue was a “crime of violence” within the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. (United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Cirucit v. David Lopez-Montanez) That question itself was one for the State jurisdiction.

Should it have been determined that forcible sex offenses were indeed crimes of violence it would then have been a matter for Federal jurisdiction to the extent that the Federal Sentencing Guidelines would have applied.   The California Circuit Court having determined that a forcible sex offense within the meaning of the California Statute was not a crime of violence it was solely a matter for the state court’s jurisdiction with respect to sentencing.

James Cruller v State of Florida No. SC99-49

            In James Cruller v State of Florida the jurisdiction of the case although invoking Federal questions of law never left the state jurisdiction.  The case involved the appellant’s dual conviction under two separate Florida Statutes for carjacking and robbery both offenses arising out of the same episode, facts and transaction.  The appellant appealed against his convictions to the Third District Court of Appeal on the grounds that the dual convictions infringed his protection against double jeopardy as provided for under both the Federal Constitution and the Florida state Constitution.

In support of his appeal he argued that the First District Court Appeal had already ruled in Ward V State 739 So. 2d 728 (Fla. 1st DCA 1999) that such convictions would constitute a double jeopardy infringement. The Supreme Court of Florida considered the merits of the appellant’s submission but did not agree with him ruling first and foremost that the Supreme Court of Florida had jurisdiction over the matter since it involved the interpretation and application of Florida state legislation.  If and only if, upon a construction of the Florida Statutes defining carjacking and robbery it became apparent that the two offences were so indistinguishable that a trial of both offences founded on the same transaction would amount to double jeopardy the matter would be a matter for the application of Federal jurisdiction.

In order to determine whether or not carjacking and robbery were distinct offences although arising out of the same transaction, the Florida Supreme Court said that it was necessary to examine the intent of the Florida legislators who created the offences.  Upon looking at the history of the carjacking offence the Supreme Court ruled that the legislators had intended to create a separate offence in carjacking making it a more serious felony than robbery in the state of Florida.  As such according to Florida statutes there could be no double jeopardy and no cause to invoke constitutional law.  Therefore the case remained a matter for the jurisdiction of the Florida state courts.

US v Lee Williams No. 99-2157

            The case of US v. Lee Williams give rise to two jurisdictional matters.  One jurisdictional issue involves the applicable law and the other jurisdictional matter involves the forum or venue that has proper jurisdiction over the matter.  The defendant Lee Williams was charged, tried and convicted of an offence created and defined by the US Uniform Criminal Code which is applicable to all of the United States.  The offence in question was “conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana.” (US v Lee Williams) The offence therefore falls under federal jurisdiction and the federal district court’s jurisdiction is regulated by the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure as well as Article III of the US Constitution.

            By virtue of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure the district in which the federal offence is committed will have jurisdiction over the matter.  In US v Lee Williams the offence was committed in Michigan and as result Michigan had jurisdiction over the matter.  However, Article III of the US Constitution mandates that such jurisdiction is not exclusive since it recognizes that the defendant can make an application for a change of venue on the grounds that there is a more convenient forum for the adjudication of the matter.  In this case the defendant’s claim that Texas where the primary witnesses for both sides resided was the most convenient forum and argued that by permitting Michigan to assume jurisdiction over the case, he was denied a more convenient forum in Texas.

Lee Williams filed an original Appeal to the US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan arguing that Michigan was not the proper venue for the adjudication of his trial.  The appeal was denied and as such the matter revolving around rules of Federal procedure was heard under Federal jurisdiction in the US Court of Appeal for the Sixth Circuit.  The US Court of Appeal for the Sixth Circuit agreed with Lee Williams and applying the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure together with Article III of the US Constitution quashed the conviction and ordered a new trial to be conducted in the State of Texas.  Although Texas would have jurisdiction over the matter the applicable law would remain the Federal Criminal Code and the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.  It therefore follows that while Texas might have jurisdiction over the case, the proper jurisdictional law would remain Federal.

Bibliography

James Cruller v State of Florida Available online at: http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data2/floridastatecases/1_2002/sc99-49.pdf  Retrieved June 27, 2008

State of Dakota v Richard Allen Ringquist Available online at: http://www.ndcourts.com/court/opinions/870361.htm Retrieved June 27, 2008

The People of the State of Colorado v Robert Turner Available online at: http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=co&vol=2005sc\5063&invol=1 Retrieved June 27, 2008

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Cirucit v. David Lopez-Montanez No. 04-502060 Available online at: http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data2/circs/9th/0450260p.pdf Retrieved June 27 2008

US v Lee Williams Available online at: http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/cgi-bin/getcase.pl?court=6th&navby=docket&no=01a0430p Retrieved June 29, 2008