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Prisoner Education Guide

Articles by Christopher Zoukis

From Abuse of the Body to Abuse of the Mind: Police Use Psychologically Coercive Interrogation Techniques to Produce False Confessions

by Christopher Zoukis

In mid-1997, Michelle Moore-Bosko was raped and stabbed to death in her Norfolk, Virginia, apartment. Based on a tip from a friend of the victim, U.S. Navy sailor Danial Williams was brought in for questioning. After more than 11 hours of interrogation, Williams confessed to the murder and implicated several other men in the crime.

Investigators were able to obtain confessions from three of the alleged accomplices. Although they all told wildly different versions of what happened, Eric Wilson, Joe Dick Jr., and Derek Tice were arrested and charged, along with Williams, for the rape and murder of Moore-Bosko. Williams and Dick pleaded guilty in order to avoid the death penalty. Tice was convicted of murder, and Wilson was convicted of rape.

Prosecutors obtained all four convictions solely on the strength of the sailors’ confessions. There was no physical evidence tying any of the men to the crime scene. Instead, the physical evidence that was obtained tended to rule out all four men as suspects. Additionally, investigators learned that another man, serial rapist Omar Ballard, had written a letter to a friend in which he confessed to committing the crime, alone. Tests of DNA found at the ...

$9 Million Settlement in Baltimore Wrongful Conviction Case

by Christopher Zoukis

Baltimore officials agreed in May 2018 to settle a claim of wrongful conviction brought by a man who spent more than 20 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit. The city agreed to pay exoneree James “J.J.” Owens $9 million, the largest settlement in city ...

Fifth Circuit Affirms Habeas Relief Granted to Louisiana Prisoner Who Overcame SOL by ‘Credible Showing of Actual Innocence’

by Christopher Zoukis

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld a federal district court’s ruling that a Louisiana man who has served over 35 years in prison for murder should get a new trial. The April 6, 2018, ruling vacated the stay of habeas relief and ...

Seventh Circuit: ‘Force’ for Aggravated Sexual Abuse Requires ‘Physical Force,’ Not Psychological Coercion

by Christopher Zoukis

The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reversed the denial of a prisoner’s § 2255 claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, rendering the prisoner’s conviction on charges of aggravated sexual abuse void. The February 20, 2018, opinion sent the case back to the district ...

Washington Supreme Court Clarifies Process by Which Insanity Acquittees May Petition for Release

by Christopher Zoukis

The Supreme Court of Washington clarified the procedures for an insanity acquittee seeking to obtain conditional release from commitment. The March 8, 2018, opinion held that such detainees may petition the court directly without first having to apply indirectly through a petition to the Department of Social ...

Cato Institute: Require Cops to Carry Liability Insurance

by Christopher Zoukis

Clark Neily, vice president for criminal justice at the Cato Institute, made an unusual proposal in a recent op-ed piece in The New York Daily News: require all police officers to carry not just a gun, but also an insurance policy.

Neily’s idea is inspired by ...

Eighth Circuit Rules Officer’s Inability to Read Temporary Vehicle Tag Does Not Justify Traffic Stop, Evidence Obtained Must be Suppressed

by Christopher Zoukis

The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed a district court’s ruling that evidence obtained during a traffic stop that was not supported by reasonable suspicion must be suppressed. In its April 13, 2018, opinion, the Court said in this case, a police officer’s ...

New Jersey AG Intervenes in Possible Wrongful Conviction Case, Considers Reforms

by Christopher Zoukis

Newly appointed New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal has directed his prosecutors to take over an investigation into the 1993 murder conviction of two men who might be innocent.

He also formed a panel to consider whether New Jersey should establish a “conviction review unit” to look ...

Sixth Circuit Reverses Relevant Conduct Firearm Enhancement Because No Connection Between Possession Charges Based on Two Separate Shootouts

by Christopher Zoukis

The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed a lower court’s ruling that two unrelated instances of gun possession were part of the same course of conduct. The March 27, 2018, opinion ruled that for two, non-contemporaneous illegal firearm possessions to be part of ...

Third Circuit Grants Habeas Relief to Prisoner Convicted of First-Degree Murder Without Evidence of Specific Intent to Kill

by Christopher Zoukis

The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit granted a Pennsylvania state prisoner conditional habeas corpus relief because the jury instructions used to convict him of first-degree murder did not require a finding that he had the specific intent to kill. The March 26, 2018, ...




 

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