Justia Weekly Writers’ Picks – October 17, 2014


In re Adoption of K.P.M.A., Oklahoma Supreme Court (10/14/14)
Constitutional Law, Family Law

babyThe issue this case presented for the Supreme Court’s review centered on the termination Respondent-appellant Billy McCall’s (Father) parental rights to K.P.M.A. (Child). Child was born out-of-wedlock to T.Z. (Mother) in 2012. Prospective adoptive parents, petitioners-appellees Marshall and Toni Michelle Andrews had had physical custody of the child since she was released from the hospital after birth. On appeal of his termination, father argued: (1) whether his due process rights were violated; (2) whether he received ineffective assistance of counsel during the termination proceedings; and (3) whether the trial court’s determination was supported by clear and convincing evidence. After review of the trial court record, the Supreme Court concluded that termination of the natural father’s parental rights was improper because the natural father’s due process rights were violated, and the termination of the natural father’s parental rights was not supported by clear and convincing evidence.

Read More: Facebook post informing dad of planned adoption wasn’t adequate notice, top state court says

Hui v. Holder, Jr., 8th Cir. (10/14/14)
Immigration Law

Petitioner, a native of Hong Kong, petitioned for review of the BIA’s affirmance of the IJ’s denial of withholding of removal. Petitioner claimed that she suffered past persecution based on her membership in a particular group, “Chinese daughters [who are] viewed as property by virtue of their position within a domestic relationship.” The IJ assumed that petitioner suffered past persecution on account of membership in the particular social group she identified, but concluded that the government had rebutted the presumption by showing a fundamental change in circumstances. The court denied the petition, concluding that substantial evidence supported the IJ’s determination that petitioner’s age was a fundamental change in circumstances such that her life or freedom would not be threatened if she returned to Hong Kong.

Colorado v. Sotelo, Colorado Supreme Court (10/14/14)
Constitutional Law, Criminal Law

A state trooper pulled over the defendant while she was driving a rental car that she was not authorized to drive. While impounding the car at rental company’s request, the trooper who stopped her discovered three suspicious gift-wrapped packages, one on the back seat and two in trunk. At the tow yard, a K-9 police dog alerted alerted the trooper that the trunk contained drugs. The trooper used this positive dog sniff to obtain a warrant, the execution of which revealed 57 pounds of marijuana. The trial court suppressed this marijuana evidence because the packages had been detained for an unreasonable amount of time before the dog alerted and the trooper thus obtained probable cause to continue the search. The State challenged the suppression, arguing that defendant did not have standing to contest the detention and search of the packages because she was not authorized to drive the car. Under the totality of the circumstances, the Supreme Court concluded that defendant had a legitimate expectation of privacy in the packages that were detained. Therefore, she had standing to challenge the search of those packages even though she was not authorized to drive the car. Consequently, the Court affirmed the suppression order.

State v. Moriarty, Kansas Supreme Court (10/10/14)
Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Family Law

The Attorney General alleged that the Chief Judge of the Tenth Judicial District exceeded his authority and contravened Kansas law by issuing an administrative order permitting marriage licenses to be issued to same sex couples. The Attorney General sought an order directing the Chief Judge and clerk of the district court to immediately cease from issuing marriage applications or licenses to same gender couples and an order vacating the Judge’s administrative order. The Supreme Court declined to grant the relief sought, as the Attorney General’s right to relief on the merits was not clear, but granted the Attorney General’s alternative request for a temporary stay of the Chief Judge’s administrative order insofar as the order allows issuance of marriage licenses. The Court then requested additional briefing on the pending issues of whether the Chief Judge possessed authority to issue the administrative order and whether the interpretations and applications of the United States Constitution by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals are supreme and modify any Kansas state ban on same-sex marriage.

Read More:  Kansas Supreme Court blocks gay marriage licenses