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Articles by Dale Chappell

Fourth Circuit: State’s Failure to Plead Procedural Default Results in De Novo Review on Merits; Prosecutor’s Comments to Jury to Send ‘Societal Message’ Denied Defendant Fair Trial, Habeas Relief Warranted

by Dale Chappell

THE U.S. COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE Fourth Circuit held that a prosecutor’s comments were so improper that they violated a defendant’s constitutional right to due process and habeas relief was warranted.

Charles Plymail was convicted of second-degree sexual assault in 1993, after a jury found him ...

California Court of Appeal: Peremptory Challenge to Judge in Habeas Case Subject to 10-Day Filing Period, Not 60 Days, Under § 170.6(a)(1)

by Dale Chappell 

Deciding a question of first impression, the Court of Appeal of California, Fourth Appellate District, held that an order to show cause by the California Supreme Court in a habeas corpus case, returnable to the superior court, requires that a motion to disqualify the judge must be ...

SCOTUS: Rehaif Error Doesn’t Automatically Require Reversal of Conviction, Plain-Error Test Must Be Satisfied for Re-lief

by Dale Chappell


The Supreme Court of the United States (“SCOTUS”) held that for felon-in-possession cases, a Rehaif error does not establish a basis for plain-error relief unless the defendant can show that he would have presented evidence at trial that he was unaware of his felon status at ...

Sixth Circuit: Michigan’s Ordinarily ‘Adequate’ Contemporaneous-Objection Rule, in Unique Circumstances, May Not Procedurally Bar Federal Habeas Review

by Dale Chappell 

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit held that Michigan’s contemporaneous-objection rule, requiring an objection to an error in the trial court even if the error is unknown at the time to defendant and counsel, is not an adequate state rule to procedurally bar a ...

Eighth Circuit Reiterates Statute of Conviction Determines Eligibility for Sentence Reduction Under First Step Act, Not Actual Conduct

by Dale Chappell

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit reiterated that it is the statute of conviction that determines First Step Act relief under the retroactive application of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 (“FSA”), not the defendant’s actual conduct or drug amount involved.

The case came ...

Sixth Circuit Vacates Sentence for Impermissible Triple-Counting of Guidelines Enhancements for Ungrouped Offenses

by Dale Chappell

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit held that enhancements under the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines (“USSG”) that were applied to all three counts of conviction that were ungrouped were impermissible triple counting, and contradicted the intent of the Guidelines’ grouping instructions.

Jermaine Clark committed three ...

Sixth Circuit Announces District Court Has Power to Waive Interest on Restitution Post-Sentencing, Resulting in Circuit Split

by Dale Chappell

Acknowledging a circuit split on the issue, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit held that district courts have the authority to waive interest on restitution post-sentencing.

Edmund Phillips was nearing release and filed a motion in the U.S. District Court for the Western District ...

Third Circuit Rules Pennsylvania Courts’ Application of Federal Law Objectively Unreasonable, Overturns Conviction and Death Sentence, Grants Habeas Relief

by Dale Chappell

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed the grant of habeas corpus relief to a death-sentenced defendant based on the fact the state courts’ application of the governing federal law was objectively unreasonable regarding the defendant’s Sixth Amendment choice-of-counsel right.

It wasn’t that Samuel ...

Eleventh Circuit: Georgia Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon Only Requires Mens Rea of Recklessness Thus Not a ‘Violent Felony’ Under ACCA

by Dale Chappell 

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit held that because the defendant was convicted of an aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in Georgia under a statute that could be violated with a mens rea of mere reckless conduct, it could not qualify as a ...

Minnesota Police Hand Out ‘Not-Reaching’ Pouches to Reduce Police Shoot-ings of Motorists

by Dale Chappell

Any proactive measure to cut down on cops shooting motorists is a good step in the right direction. At first glance, what the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (“MDPS”) is doing sounds like a great idea. They’re handing out pouches that motorists can use to store their ...



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