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Articles by Dale Chappell

Third Circuit: No Categorical Ban on Reliability of Recantations as New Evidence

Sixth Circuit: Savings Clause Available for Retroactive Case of Statutory Interpretation Decided While § 2255 Motion on Appeal

First Step Act Relief Shows Modest Results

As expected, the largest group ...

EFF Compiles Data on Surveillance Operations on Citizens Across the Nation

by Dale Chappell

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (“EFF”) released a new report in November 2020 on the variety of ways that law enforcement agencies spy on the general public. Called Real-Time Crime Centers (“RTCC”), police and other agencies can monitor all sorts of data collected from surveillance of citizens.

While ...

STRmix, a Mixed DNA Separating Technique, Proves its Worth in Criminal Cases

by Dale Chappell

Since being introduced in 2012, a technique for separating mixed DNA evidence called STRmix has been used in at least 220,000 cases worldwide.

STRmix is sophisticated forensic software that resolves DNA samples mixed with multiple donors. It allows users to set the number of contributors to the ...

Study Finds Combination of Experts and Algorithms are Better at Recognizing Faces

by Dale Chappell

I have to admit, I would be the worst witness in court, because it seems I can’t recall a face I’ve seen even a hundred times. However, there are some people who can see a face just once and recognize it even in grainy security-camera footage. These ...

Philadelphia Joins Other Cities in Banning Police Use of Non-Lethal Force Against Protestors

by Dale Chappell

Just days after the shooting death of Walter Wallace Jr. by Philadelphia Police officers, the city council voted 14-3 to ban the use of “less lethal” munitions by police against demonstrators exercising their First Amendment right to protest.

The ban doesn’t outright forbid use of non-lethal weapons ...

Federal Habeas Corpus: Time Limits for Filing

by Dale Chappell

In my first column in this series on federal habeas corpus for state and federal prisoners, we’ll go over time limits for filing in federal court and how those time limits are calculated. The following information is adapted from my book WinningCites: Section 2255, A Handbook for Prisoners and Lawyers.

AEDPA and Affirmative Defenses

There is a one-year time limit to file a federal habeas corpus petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (for state prisoners) or a motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (for federal prisoners). Thanks to the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (“AEDPA”) signed into law on April 24, 1996, this time limit applies to prisoners filing for habeas relief in federal court. Don’t let the words “antiterrorism” and “death penalty” confuse you – Congress meant the harsh one-year restriction to apply to all prisoners. Today, courts have gotten away from the highly political aspect of the AEDPA speeding up the death penalty and stopping terrorism and now say that the AEDPA’s purpose is to promote “finality” of convictions and sentences.

The time limit, however, is not an absolute bar. Instead, it’s an “affirmative defense” that the government (a general term for the federal ...

Fourth and Fifth Circuits Reopen Decades-Old Cases for Habeas Relief Due to Brady Violations

The Fifth Circuit Case

The first case was an application to file a “second or successive” (“SOS”) habeas corpus petition in federal court by Robert Gene Will in the Fifth Circuit. On August 5, 2020, a divided panel of that court granted Will permission to file another petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 in the district court based on a slew of exculpatory evidence that the prosecution withheld from the defense.

Will was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of a Harris County (Texas) sheriff’s deputy in 2000. Despite the fact that there were no witnesses or forensic evidence tying him to the crime, a jury still found him guilty. Fifteen years later, Will filed an application in the Fifth Circuit requesting permission to file another habeas corpus petition in federal court to challenge his conviction based on evidence suppressed by the prosecution.

The Fifth Circuit granted Will permission, finding that “there were ...

New Report Shows More Than Half of Wrongful Convictions Involved Misconduct by Police and Prosecutors

Out of 2,400 cases analyzed by the NRE, 54 percent were the result of misconduct by law enforcement and prosecutors, and the more severe the crime, the more likely misconduct played a role. Overall, cops and prosecutors evenly split the misconduct. But the discipline was largely on law enforcement, with prosecutors rarely, if ever, taking the blame.

The 218-page report details the most common types of misconduct, giving examples of cases and the fate of the officials responsible for the misconduct. It then notes any discipline handed out and concludes with suggestions on why misconduct occurs and what can be done to prevent it.


The NRE manages an archive of all known exonerations in the U.S. since 1989. So far, that comes to 2,663 cases. The report, though, focuses on all the cases up to February 2019. It also limits misconduct to government officials who contributed ...



The Habeas Citebook: Prosecutorial Misconduct Side
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