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Articles by Christopher Zoukis

Mississippi Capital Murder Conviction Reversed Due to Prosecutorial Misconduct

by Christopher Zoukis

The Mississippi Supreme Court reversed the conviction and death sentence of a man accused of the capital murder of a two-year-old child. The reversal resulted from several errors made at trial, as well as the taint of prosecutorial misconduct.

The November 9, 2017 opinion reversed the conviction ...

Seventh Circuit: Capital Case Defendant Denied Pro Se Right Granted Habeas Relief

by Christopher Zoukis

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit granted a state prisoner’s petition for habeas corpus relief because the prisoner was denied his right to proceed pro se at trial, in violation of the U.S. Constitution and U.S. Supreme Court precedent.

The December 27, 2017 ruling ...

Jury Nullification: A Crucial Check on Government Power

by Christopher Zoukis

The power of government in everyday American life cannot be overstated. In the criminal justice setting, the government is essentially all-powerful. When accused of a crime, a citizen faces arrest at the hands of armed police, incarceration in government-owned jails (for the most part), and prosecution by ...

Rhode Island Supreme Court Rules “Backseat Driver” Is a Real Thing Under Criminal Statutes

by Christopher Zoukis

The Rhode Island Supreme Court has determined that a passenger in the back seat of a vehicle who lunges forward and jerks the steering wheel qualifies as an “operator” of the vehicle.

The November 14, 2017 opinion considered the criminal case against Luke Peters. On August 6, ...

Ninth Circuit: Government Cannot Seize Cash Based Solely on Money’s Intended Use

by Christopher Zoukis

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits the government from seizing cash intended for drug use unless some step was taken toward actually using the money for drugs.

The September 5, 2017 decision involved the unfortunate circumstances of ...

Secret ATF Slush Fund Dispensed Millions

by Christopher Zoukis

An explosive investigation by The New York Times has revealed the existence of a secret account used by agents at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”) to dispense millions of untraceable private dollars to informants and agents for over seven years.

The story reads ...

South Carolina Supreme Cancels Thousands of Bench Warrants Due to Constitutional Violations

by Christopher Zoukis

Thousands of arrest warrants have been recalled by county magistrates and municipal judges across the state after South Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Donald Beatty issued new instructions to local magistrates.

On September 15, 2017, Beatty issued a memo to summary courts, which include county magistrates and ...

The Fair Punishment Project Details an “Epidemic of Brady Violations”

by Christopher Zoukis

The Fair Punishment Project (“FPP”), a criminal justice reform group, released a report in November 2017 detailing an “epidemic” of Brady violations taking place in criminal courts across the country.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), and its progeny that ...

What Is the Number One Duty of a Police Officer?

by Christopher Zoukis

There is an oft-quoted and deeply ingrained sentiment in police circles, one whose logic seems unassailable at first glance: The number one duty of a police officer is to go home to his or her family at the end of the shift.

This feels right. Police operate ...

Kentucky Supreme Court Clarifies Adoptive Admission Exception to Hearsay Rule

by Christopher Zoukis

The Kentucky Supreme Court has clarified exactly what the “adoptive admission” exception to the hearsay rule is under Kentucky law and how it applies in a criminal trial. The teachable moment came in a November 2, 2017 decision in which the Court upheld a defendant’s manslaughter conviction. ...

 

 

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