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Articles by Dale Chappell

Arizona Supreme Court: Trial Court Must Tell Jury Defendant Ineligible for Parole in Death Penalty Phase

by Dale Chappell

The trial court erred by failing to tell the jury that a defendant was ineligible for parole before its decision to impose the death penalty, the Supreme Court of Arizona held November 6, 2017.

A jury found Jasper Rushing guilty of killing his cellmate at the Lewis ...

Innocence be Damned: Prosecutors Who Disregard Justice in Push to Win at Any Cost

by Dale Chappell

The prosecutor’s goal “is not that it shall win a case, but that justice shall be done,” the U.S. Supreme Court declared in Berger v. United States, 295 U.S. 78 (1935). Some prosecutors, however, are clearly not guided by the high court’s admonition; on the contrary, they ...

D.C. Circuit Vacates Sentence Because Government Breached Plea Agreement by Providing Defendant’s Confidential Statements to Sentencing Court

by Dale Chappell

The government’s use of incriminating statements made by a defendant at a confidential debriefing breached the plea agreement and constituted “plain error” when the government disclosed that information to the sentencing court to push for a longer sentence, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ...

Drug-Induced Homicide Laws Hurt Rather Than Help Opioid Overdose Crisis

by Dale Chappell

Lawmakers and prosecutors just don’t get it. Instead of treatment and prevention of opioid overdoses, lawmakers and prosecutors are pushing for more convictions under draconian drug-induced homicide laws in response to America’s deadly crisis. They claim it is to “send a strong message” to drug dealers.

In ...

U.S. Supreme Court Holds Residual Clause Definition of ‘Crime of Violence’ Unconstitutionally Vague Under Due Process Clause

by Dale Chappell

The U.S. Supreme Court struck yet another residual clause definition of “crime of violence” as unconstitutionally vague in a major decision that could potentially affect thousands of prisoners serving longer prison sentences for a conviction falling under this type of clause.

When the Government sought to deport ...

Iowa Supreme Court Announces Indecent Exposure Statute Does Not Apply to Still Images of Genitals

by Dale Chappell

Interpreting the word ‘exposes’ in Iowa’s indecent exposure statute, the Supreme Court of Iowa held on February 2, 2018 that texting an image of one’s genitals to another does not constitute “indecent exposure” and that counsel was ineffective for failing to challenge the sufficiency of the evidence. ...

Mississippi Supreme Court Reverses Conviction Ruling; State Failed to Prove ‘Constructive Possession’ of Marijuana

by Dale Chappell

The State failed to prove that packages of marijuana hidden in a car truck were in the “constructive possession” of a passenger, who was unaware they were there especially when the driver claimed ownership, the Supreme Court of Mississippi held October 12, 2017.

Marvin Carver and his ...

Sentencing Court’s Grant of Prior Custody Credit was Not ‘Clear Error’ to Allow for Removal

by Dale Chappell

The government’s “eleventh hour” motion to “correct” a sentence to remove credit for time served in a related case before federal sentencing was improperly granted by the district court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held November 16, 2017.

When Derrick Smothers, Terrell Smothers, ...

Eleventh Circuit Holds Court May Not Dismiss 2255 Motion by Invoking Collateral Attack Waiver Sua Sponte

by Dale Chappell

A U.S. district court cannot, “of its own volition,” invoke a collateral attack waiver in a plea agreement to dismiss a § 2255 motion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit held on November 6, 2017.

“Efficiency can be a virtue, particularly for a court. ...

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals: Furtive Gestures, Brief Visit Not Probable Cause

by Dale Chappell

The Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas (“CCA”) held that “furtive gestures” alone did not give police probable cause to search a vehicle under the automobile exception to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement.

When a marked police car pulled behind Andreas Marcopoulos’ truck, police said he made ...



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