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Articles by Dale Chappell

SCOTUS Adds Extra Obstacle to Federal Habeas Relief for State Prisoners, Ruling Both Brecht and the AEDPA Must Be Satisfied

by Dale Chappell

Citing the need to respect the finality of state convictions, the Supreme Court of the United States (“SCOTUS”) held on April 21, 2022, that a constitutional trial error that’s found to be “substantial and injurious” under Brecht on the verdict must also clear the Antiterrorism and Effective ...

Seventh Circuit: Four-Year Delay in Filing Appeal Excused Habeas Exhaustion Requirement Because Any Further Attempts for Postconviction Remedies in State Court Would Have Been Futile

by Dale Chappell

Waiting more than four years for a Wisconsin state court to hear a defendant’s appeal was “ineffective to protect the rights secured by the United States Constitution,” the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled, allowing a federal habeas corpus petition to proceed without exhausting ...

Ninth Circuit: IAC for Failure to Engage Mental Health Expert and Testing, State PCR Court’s Decision Contrary to Federal Law and Defective Factfinding, Habeas Relief Granted

by Dale Chappell

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that trial counsel’s failure to obtain a mental health expert and psychological testing constituted ineffective assistance of counsel (“IAC”), rendering the death-penalty sentences invalid. The Court reversed the denial of habeas corpus relief and instructed the U.S. ...

Fifth Circuit Affirms Habeas Relief and New Trial Based on Counsel’s Failure to Interview State’s Key Eyewitness in Murder Case

by Dale Chappell

Finding that defense counsel’s failure to interview the State’s key eyewitness in a Louisiana murder case constituted ineffective assistance of counsel under Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the U.S. District Court for the Middle ...

Second Circuit: District Court Required to Explain Rationale for Reducing Sentence to ‘Time Served’ Under First Step Act but Refused to Reduce Supervised Release Portion of Sentence Despite Being Longer Than New Mandatory Minimum

by Dale Chappell

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit vacated a defendant’s 10-term of supervised release because the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York failed to explain its rationale for not reducing the term when it reduced the incarceration portion of the sentence ...

Tenth Circuit: Where Defendant Actually Sentenced to Drug Treatment and Probation Rather Than 28-32 Months in Prison as Per State Sentencing Guidelines, Conviction Can’t Serve as Predicate ‘Felony’ for 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1)

by Dale Chappell

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit held that defendant’s sentence for a drug conviction under Kansas law, for which the maximum potential term of imprisonment was 32 months, to a drug treatment program and probation, in lieu of prison, did not render that conviction ...

Geofencing Warrants Are Putting Civil Rights and Free Speech in Jeopardy

by Dale Chappell

Hundreds of protestors marched in Kenosha, Wisconsin, after the police shooting of Jacob Blake in August 2020. Little did these protestors know that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms issued at least a dozen geofence warrants to gather data from their electronic devices they carried that ...

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 ...



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