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Articles by Chad Marks

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 was indicted ...

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 ...

Nebraska Supreme Court Clarifies Applicable Standard for Mandatory Testing Under DNA Testing Act, Reverses District Court for Applying Wrong Standard

by Chad Marks

The Supreme Court of Nebraska reversed a district court’s order denying prisoner James Myers’ request for DNA testing pursuant to the DNA Testing Act, Neb. Rev. Stat. §§ 29-4116 to 29-4125, related to evidence dating back to 1995.

Myers was charged with first-degree murder, use of a ...

Federal Judge Signals That Defense Counsel Will Be Permitted To Argue Jury Nullification in Questionable Child Porn Prosecution

by Chad Marks

Yehudi Manzano, a man in his 30s, was charged with producing and transporting child pornography. Manzano allegedly recorded a sexual encounter with his teenage sex partner. He then saved that video and sent it to and from his own phone.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Connecticut brought ...

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Rules Defense Attorney Violated McCoy, Reverses Capital Convictions and Orders New Trial

by Chad Marks

The Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas ruled that defense counsel’s actions conceding guilt against defendant’s express wishes during trial violated his Sixth Amendment rights under McCoy.

Albert Turner was charged with the December 2009 killing of both his wife and mother-in-law. His 12-year-old daughter witnessed the ...

Nevada Supreme Court Reverses Convictions Where Trial Court Failed to Conduct Third Step of Batson Challenge

by Chad Marks

The Supreme Court of Nevada ruled that a trial court’s failure to properly conduct the three-step Batson analysis when a prospective juror is allegedly dismissed on the basis of race constitutes a structural error necessitating a new trial.

Gregory Anthony Williams was convicted of six counts of ...

Washington Supreme Court Announces Effective Date of Certificate of Discharge Is Date Offender Completes All Sentence Requirements

by Chad Marks

The Supreme Court of Washington ruled that the effective date of a certificate of discharge (“COD”) for an offender who is not in Department of Corrections (“DOC”) custody at the time the sentence is completed is the date the offender completes all requirements of the sentence.

Waylon ...

President Trump Signs First Step Act Into Law—It’s a Good Initial Attempt at Meaningful Reform

by Chad Marks

In December 2018, President Trump signed the bipartisan First Step Act into law. It’s the most substantial change in a generation to the tough-on-crime prison and sentencing laws that have cost taxpayers billions of dollars and destroyed countless families, sending many non-violent offenders to prison for decades ...

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Holds Defendant Unambiguously Invoked Right to Remain Silent Suppresses Confession and Derivative Physical Evidence and Announces New Rule

by Chad Marks

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania ruled that a police officer’s continued interrogation after the accused told the interrogator he was done talking violated his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, requiring suppression of both his confession and derivative physical evidence.

On August 7, 2015, Joshua Michael Lukach ...



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