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Prisoner Education Guide

Articles by Chad Marks

Fourth Circuit Rules Assault on Government Official Under North Carolina Statute Not a ‘Crime of Violence’

by Chad Marks

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled that Tomonta Simmons’ conviction for assault with a deadly weapon on a government official (“AWDWOGO”) under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-34.2 is not a crime of violence that can trigger a Grade A supervised ...

Prosecutorial Power Used Too Often to Stop Prisoners From Getting Second Chance at Life

by Chad Marks

Alexander Hamilton once described the reasons for the existence of clemency as those of humanity and good policy. Both clemency and parole reflect a commitment to the ancient value of mercy, but many prosecutors use their power to block mercy from becoming a reality.

Prosecutors ...

Fourth Circuit Rules Government Breached Plea Agreement When It Failed to Honor Its Drug Conduct Stipulation at Sentencing

by Chad Marks

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled that the Government breached its plea agreement with the defendant by failing to honor its drug conduct stipulation at sentencing and failing to advocate for acceptance of its agreement after the Government learned its assumption about ...

Ninth Circuit: Habeas Petitioner Need Only Show That IAC Claims Are Substantial to Excuse Procedural Default Under Martinez

by Chad Marks

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued an order remanding a habeas case so that the district court could conduct an analysis of the substantiality of petitioner’s ineffective assistance of counsel (“IAC”) claims.

Kyle J. Rodney petitioned a district court in Nevada for ...

Supreme Court of Delaware: Lawyer’s Mere Presence the Day of Trial Violates Sixth Amendment Under Cronic Standard

by Chad Marks

The Supreme Court of Delaware held that a defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to assistance of counsel was violated by trial counsel’s near-total absence during the pretrial stage of proceedings.

Everett Urquhart found himself on the wrong side of the law when he was arrested for the ...

The Holloway Doctrine and First Step Act: Federal Judge Issues Order Urging Government to Dismiss One of Two 18 U.S.C. §924(c) Stacking Convictions

by Chad Marks

February 4, 2003, forever changed my life. That’s when, at the age of 24, the federal government charged me with numerous federal offenses related to my involvement in a crack-cocaine conspiracy case.

Specifically, the Government charged me with conspiracy to distribute 50 grams or more of cocaine ...

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Rules as a Matter of 1st Impression That Mother’s Use of Opioids During Pregnancy Not Child Abuse

by Chad Marks

On December 28, 2018, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania ruled as a matter of first impression that a mother cannot be found to be a perpetrator of child abuse for using drugs while she was pregnant.

On January 27, 2017, A.A.R. (“Mother”) gave birth to ...

Fifth Circuit Rules Miscalculation of Guidelines Sentencing 
Range Plain Error That Merits Correction Even Though Not Raised by Defendant

by Chad Marks 

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that a district court’s miscalculation of defendant’s sentencing guidelines range constitutes plain error necessitating resentencing, “even where the defendant fails to object or raise the argument in his opening brief on appeal.”

Christopher Douglas ...

Supreme Court of Alaska Announces Court System Bears Costs of Expert Evaluation When Insanity or Diminished Capacity Raised as Defense

by Chad Marks

The Supreme Court of Alaska held that a trial court was required under Alaska state law to appoint at least two qualified psychiatrists or forensic psychologists to examine defendants who rely on a defense of insanity or diminished capacity at trial. The Supreme Court in its decision ...

Conversations With Those Helped by Passage of First Step Act: Provides Relief for Some Federal Prisoners, but More Is Needed

by Chad Marks

December 21, 2018, changed the lives of many federal prisoners in facilities throughout the United States. That’s when President Trump signed the bipartisan First Step Act into law, making many federal prisoners eligible for release sooner than expected.

Trump invited two unlikely guests to his State of ...


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