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Prisoner Education Guide

Articles by Christopher Zoukis

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” ...

Second Circuit Denies NYPD Qualified Immunity for Use of Military-Grade Acoustic Weapon on Peaceful Protesters

by Christopher Zoukis

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit dealt the New York Police Department a blow in its attempt to avoid liability for using an acoustic weapon developed by the military to disperse a peaceful gathering of protesters. The Court’s June 13, 2018, ruling upheld ...

U.S. Supreme Court: Defendant Sentenced Pursuant to a Rule 11(c)(1)(C) Plea ‘Generally Eligible’ for Sentence Reduction when Guidelines Retroactivity Reduced

by Christopher Zoukis

The Supreme Court of the United States, in a 6-3 ruling, cleared up significant confusion in the circuit courts of appeals by ruling that a criminal defendant who was sentenced pursuant to a Rule 11(c)(1)(C) guilty plea is “generally eligible” for a sentence reduction ...

U.S. Supreme Court: Plainly Miscalculated Guidelines Range Requires Appellate Court to Vacate Sentence in the Ordinary Case

by Christopher Zoukis

The Supreme Court of the United States ruled that when a district court plainly miscalculates a defendant’s Guidelines range and the mistake affects the defendant’s substantial rights, appellate courts should exercise discretion under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 52(b) to vacate the sentence.

The Court’s June ...

Rhode Island Supreme Court Takes on ‘Thorny Issues’ Presented by Sex Offender Registry Laws

by Christopher Zoukis

State legislatures across the nation seem unable to stop themselves from tinkering with and upgrading their sex offender registry laws. The Rhode Island Legislature is no exception, and continual changes forced the state’s Supreme Court to wade into the treacherous waters on April 23, 2018.

In November ...

U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s New Fuzzy Math Clearly Results in Inflated Assault Figures

by Christopher Zoukis

On February 14, 2017, seven U.S. Border Patrol Agents were involved in an altercation with six subjects and three projectiles (rocks, bottles, and tree branches). How many assaults occurred?

According to traditional law enforcement accounting methods, seven, even assuming that none of the agents were hit ...

Fourth Circuit Affirms Ruling That Diagnosis of Intellectual Development Disorder Does Not Qualify as ‘Sexually Dangerous Person’ Under Federal Civil Commitment Statute

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 18 U.S.C.S. § 4247 (a)(7), part of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 (“Act”), was no longer a ...


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