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Prisoner Education Guide

Articles by Christopher Zoukis

Hawaii Supreme Court Finally Complies with SCOTUS’ Apprendi Decision, Vacates Enhanced Sentence Based on Fact Determined by Judge, Not Jury

by Christopher Zoukis

The Supreme Court of Hawaii, in ruling that a criminal defendant’s enhanced sentence violated the U.S. Constitution, has come on board with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466 (2000). The opinion by Hawaii’s high court put ...

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Clarifies Proper Evidentiary Standard and Type of Evidence for Informal Competency Hearing

by Christopher Zoukis

The Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas reversed a trial court’s refusal to grant a criminal defendant a formal competency evaluation, finding that the trial court and court of appeals erred by improperly considering evidence and applying the incorrect evidentiary standard. Unfortunately for the potentially incompetent defendant ...

Idaho Supreme Court: Temporary and Isolated Crossing of the ‘Fog Line’ Not Enough to Support a Traffic Stop

by Christopher Zoukis

The Supreme Court of Idaho ruled that a brief, single incident of crossing the outer line in a lane of travel (“fog line”) does not amount to a reasonable, articulable suspicion that the law was violated. The Court upheld a lower court’s order suppressing evidence found following ...

Louisiana Supreme Court Vacates Conviction for Batson Violation

by Christopher Zoukis

The Supreme Court of Louisiana affirmed a court of appeals determination that a trial court erred when it denied a Batson challenge to the State striking one of two black jurors from a criminal trial panel because the trial court rejected the State’s first reason for ...

Sixth Circuit: Tennessee Aggravated Sexual Battery Is Not a SORNA Tier III Offense

by Christopher Zoukis

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled that a defendant previously convicted of aggravated sexual battery in Tennessee should not have been classified as a Tier III sex offender under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (“SORNA”). The June 8, 2018, opinion ...

Fourth Circuit Vacates USSG Career Offender Sentence Predicated on Georgia Robbery

by Christopher Zoukis

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit vacated a prisoner’s sentence because the district court improperly found that Georgia robbery qualified the defendant for the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines career offender designation. The Court sent the case back to the lower court for resentencing ...

Ninth Circuit Remands Drug Case for Reconsideration of Sentencing Guidelines’ Minor-Role Adjustment

by Christopher Zoukis

The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit vacated a drug defendant’s sentence because the district court may have misinterpreted United States Sentencing Guideline (“USSG”) § 3B1.2 and Amendment 794, which allow a court to make a Guidelines adjustment when a defendant played a ...

California Court of Appeal: Youth Offender Parole Statute Trumps Consecutive Prison Term Statute

by Christopher Zoukis

The Court of Appeal of California, Second Appellate District, ruled that a statute granting prisoners who were convicted as youth offenders improved parole eligibility possibilities supersedes a different statute that requires prisoners convicted and sentenced for in-prison crimes to serve their new sentence consecutively. The June 6 ...

Homeland Security One Step Closer to Becoming Big Brother Incarnate

by Christopher Zoukis

The United States Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) has taken a giant leap toward achieving its apparent goal of knowing everything about everyone: the development and launch of the Homeland Advanced Recognition Technology (“HART”) database. The database allows DHS to organize and correlate multiple biometric identifiers, including ...

U.S. Government Paid Out Over $60 Million to Settle Border Patrol Violence Claims

by Christopher Zoukis

A report from The Guardian reveals that the United States government paid out more than $60 million over a 12-year period to settle claims of violence by Customs and Border Patrol (“CBP”) agents.

Adding in settlements related to employment and property claims raises the total to more ...


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