Here are some notable decisions from the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals’ most recent batch of decisions.
In Brooks v. State, CR-18-1171, (Ala. Crim. App. September 11, 2020), the Court of Criminal Appeals reversed a cocaine conviction that was premised on constructive possession of cocaine found in the vehicle Brooks was riding in. Because there wasn’t anything more than Brooks being in the car, the State failed to show constructive possession.
In Born v. State, CR-18-0605 (Ala. Crim. App. September 11, 2020), the Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part. The Court reversed a conviction for shooting into an occupied vehicle when there was no evidence that the vehicle was actually occupied. The Court also reversed a sentencing issue because Born’s Class C felony conviction wasn’t split.
In State v. Stafford, CR-19-0187 (Ala. Crim. App. September 11, 2020), the Court of Criminal Appeals reversed the dismissal of the DUI and assault indictment against Stafford. The indictment had been dismissed because the Department of Forensic Science destroyed Stafford’s blood work as part of routine procedure. But when the circuit court dismissed the indictment, it did not consider the relevant tests or wide range of possible effects. Instead, it abused its discretion and dismissed the indictment.
In Gordon v. State, CR-19-0643 (Ala. Crim. App. September 11, 2020), the Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that when defendants lose a Stand-Your-Ground Immunity hearing, they must challenge denial of immunity based in a writ of mandamus before pleading guilty. The Court’s previous decision in Smith—which requires challenging the denial via writ of mandamus—applies regardless of whether defendant goes to trial or pleads guilty.
In Smith v. State, CR-19-0621 (Ala. Crim. App. September 11, 2020), the Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the denial of Smith’s Rule 32 petition as insufficiently pleaded except for an illegal split sentence of 5/5. On that issue, the court remanded with instructions to grant relief on the illegal split.