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Articles by Dale Chappell

Scientific Experts Urge Forensic Experts to Be More Objective

by Dale Chappell

Scientific experts have long relied on objectivity to reach conclusions—the ability to prove repeatedly the outcome of an analysis no matter who’s doing the analysis. Forensics experts, on the other hand, have long relied on subjective analysis to reach conclusions, basing the outcome on personal experience and ...

Court Extends McQuiggin Actual Innocence Exception to Defaulted Legal Claim, Vacates § 924(c) Conviction

by Dale Chappell

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California held in a collateral proceeding on January 2, 2019, that McQuiggin’s actual innocence exception applies to a legal claim that was procedurally defaulted, vacating a conviction under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) that carries a mandatory 30-year ...

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Holds Consent to Search Does Not Include K-9 Sniff When No K-9 Present When Consent Given and Wait 40 Minutes for Its Arrival

by Dale Chappell

In a case of first impression, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania held that a search in connection with a traffic stop that was performed 40 minutes after consent was given, because there was no K-9 unit on scene so police made the motorist wait until its ...

Taxpayers Foot Bill After Man Beaten by Cops and Ignored by CMC Loses Leg

by Dale Chappell

Green Island, New York, taxpayers will pay $375,000 to settle a federal lawsuit after police there beat a man so badly his leg had to be amputated when jail medical staff ignored his injury.

According to the lawsuit, Kevin Kavanaugh surrendered to police after a high-speed chase ...

Study Questions the Reliance on Comparison Testimony at Trial

by Dale Chappell

 The FBI admitted that its hair-sample analysts were wrong 95 percent of the time when comparing hair samples in approximately 3,000 cases. This included 32 death penalty cases.

A 2012 study by the Pennsylvania Innocence Project and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers found that analysts ...

Federal Court Upholds Antiquated Virginia Law Allowing Jail Time for Being Near Alcohol

by Dale Chappell

 An antiquated Virginia law that allows courts to label someone a “habitual drunkard,” permitting police to throw someone in jail for simply being near alcohol, was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit as constitutional, though not without criticism from the court, saying ...

Over a Year After Cook County Bail Reform, Jails Are Still Full

by Dale Chappell

When Cook County, Illinois, Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans issued an administrative order in July 2017 telling judges they had to seriously consider whether someone could afford bail, things got better. A lot better. The number of individuals held in jail who couldn’t afford bail dropped by ...

Fourth Circuit Tosses Evidence Discovered by Illegal GPS Tracker

by Dale Chappell

A GPS tracker illegally placed on a car by a Metropolitan Drug Enforcement Network Team (“MDENT”) agent was a “flagrant” constitutional violation that requires exclusion of the evidence, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit held. 

Digging through Brian Terry’s trash, Charleston, West Virginia, ...

D.C. Circuit Holds Expert’s False Testimony ‘Material,’ Allowing Challenge to Four-Decade-Old Murder Conviction

by Dale Chappell

The Government’s key expert’s false hair-comparison testimony that likely swayed a jury to convict was held to be “material” because it was the primary piece of evidence to contradict the defense theory of the case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit held, which ...

Ninth Circuit Rules Robbery Committed Alone by Gang Member Not Enough for California Gang Enhancement, Despite Testimony of Gang Expert

by Dale Chappell

A law enforcement expert on gangs testifying that a robbery committed by a lone gang member without any evidence tying the robbery to the gang was not enough to support the 19-year aggregate gang enhancement, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held, reversing the ...



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