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The Habeas Citebook: Prosecutorial Misconduct

Articles by Christopher Zoukis

A Nation on the Brink

How the Killing of George Floyd by Police Sparked Nationwide Protests and Calls for Systematic Change

“If one of us is not free, none of us are free.”
– Max Mills and Ayesha Muzaffar, Co-Chairs, Students Against Mass Incarceration, University of California, Davis School of Law

The fires are burning, yet the oppressors continue to double-down. With riots in the streets of our capitals, the police and National Guard charge their armaments, preparing to quell the masses.

In cities across the country, protestors have flooded to the streets to protest the senseless murder of George Floyd, yet another unarmed Black person killed by police.

In recent years, America has experienced a string of such murders. It is with a heavy heart their names have become branded into the psyche of a generation: Breonna Taylor, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Laquan McDonald, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott, Jamar Clark, Alton Sterling, Freddie Gray, and the list goes on ad nauseum.

The fires burn in California, New York, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, Virginia, Massachusetts, Georgia, New Mexico, Texas, Rhode Island, and many other states, including the District of Columbia. Curfews have been imposed in at least 40 ...

Prosecutorial Misconduct: Justice Denied as the System Turns a Blind Eye

by Christopher Zoukis

How do rogue forensic scientists and other bad cops thrive in our criminal justice system? The simple answer is that some prosecutors turn a blind eye to such misconduct because they’re more interested in gaining a conviction than achieving a just result. — Judge Alex Kozinski, U.S. ...

Partial Justice

How a Judiciary Poisoned by Politics, Ideology, and Unaccountability Contributes to the Wrongful Conviction of Innocent Men and Women

by Christopher Zoukis, MBA

Alexander Hamilton said in Federalist Paper No. 78 that the judiciary “may truly be said to have neither force nor will but merely judgment.” Because the judiciary ...

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 an end ...

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 vacated ...

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.

In 1992, ...

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 minor ...

 

 

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