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Articles by Christopher Zoukis

Fourth Circuit Affirms District Court Ruling that Man Committed as ‘Sexually Dangerous’ Should be Released

by Christopher Zoukis

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed a lower court’s ruling that a man civilly committed under the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 (“Act”) was no longer a “sexually dangerous person.” As a result of the April 10 ...

Tenth Circuit Grants Habeas Relief When ACCA Predicate Offense No Longer Qualifies as ‘Violent Felony’

by Christopher Zoukis

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit granted a federal prisoner’s 28 U.S.C. § 2255 petition because one of the predicate offenses used to enhance his sentence under the Armed Career Criminal Act (“ACCA”) could no longer qualify as a “violent felony” ...

Pennsylvania State Senator Sends the Cops to Collect on Overdue Trash Bills Owed to His Company

by Christopher Zoukis

If you live in south-central Pennsylvania and your trash is picked up by Penn Waste, a company owned by Republican State Senator Scott Wagner, you might want to pay the bill on time. If you don’t, police officers may come to your home, inventory your possessions, and ...

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Reverses Conviction for Improper Lesser-Included-Offense Determination

by Christopher Zoukis

The Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas reversed an intermediate court of appeals because the lower court improperly determined that “deadly conduct” is not a lesser-included offense of aggravated assault by threat. The top Texas criminal court found that the elements of both offenses are functionally equivalent ...

Sixth Circuit Grants Habeas Relief When Juror Failed to Disclose History of Sexual Abuse in Sexual Assault Case

by Christopher Zoukis

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled that a defendant convicted of third-degree criminal sexual conduct did not receive a fair trial because a juror failed to disclose her own childhood sexual abuse. The August 21, 2018, ruling reversed a federal district court’s ...

Three Reasons Why the Supreme Court Should Eliminate the Doctrine of Qualified Immunity

by Christopher Zoukis

It is a rare issue of Criminal Legal News that does not include an article relating in some way to the doctrine of qualified immunity. The doctrine, which grants police officers and other government officials immunity from civil liability in certain circumstances, rears its ugly head in ...

Seventh Circuit: Habeas Petition Challenging § 841 Recidivism Sentence Enhanced with Vacated State Convictions is Not Time-Barred by § 851(e) Statute of Limitations

by Christopher Zoukis

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled that a federal prisoner convicted of violating 21 U.S.C. § 841, whose sentence was enhanced under 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A) due to prior state felony drug convictions, may bring ...

Arkansas Supreme Court Reverses Negligent Homicide Conviction Where Evidence Obtained Via Warrantless Blood Draw Used

by Christopher Zoukis

The Supreme Court of Arkansas ruled that an Arkansas statute that allows warrantless blood draws based on implied consent violated the Fourth Amendment when applied to a defendant in a negligent homicide case. The April 26, 2018, opinion reversed the defendant’s conviction and remanded for a new ...

Eyewitness (Mis)Identification in the Criminal Justice System: Powerful, Persuasive, and Problematic

by Christopher Zoukis

“Our procedure has always been haunted by the ghost of the innocent man convicted.”

—Judge Learned Hand (1923)

“Truth isn’t truth.”

—Rudy Giuliani (2018) 

In 1984, Ronald Cotton was arrested and charged with the knifepoint rape of Burlington, North Carolina, college student Jennifer Thompson ...

Ninth Circuit Reverses Conviction for Conspiracy to Smuggle Drugs Based Solely on ‘Drug Courier Profile’

by Christopher Zoukis

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed a defendant’s conviction for conspiracy to import and distribute marijuana because the government provided no evidence of drugs or a conspiracy. The May 7, 2018, opinion also emphasized that expert witness testimony of “drug courier profiles” ...


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