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Articles by Dale Chappell

N.C. Supreme Court Rules Deficient Indictment Not Jurisdictional and Issue Can’t be Raised for First Time on Appeal

by Dale Chappell

Deviations from statutory requirements are not jurisdictional and must be “properly preserved” for appellate review and not raised for the first time on appeal, the North Carolina Supreme Court held on November 3, 2017.

After Sandra Brice was found guilty by a jury in 2015 of habitual ...

West Virginia Supremes: Previous Nonviolent Crimes, Life Sentence Unconstitutional

by Dale Chappell

The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia held that a life sentence based on two prior driving on a revoked license felonies violated the West Virginia Constitution’s provision that “[p]enalties shall be proportioned to the character and degree of the offence.”

After Marc Kilmer was ...

Fourth Circuit: No Qualified Immunity for Deputies in Shooting of Armed Suspect

by Dale Chappell

An officer does not possess the unfettered authority to shoot a member of the public simply because that person is carrying a weapon,” the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit said, upholding the district court’s denial of defendant deputies’ request for summary judgment in a  ...

California Court of Appeal Holds State Must Prove Stolen Car’s Value for Felony Theft of Vehicle Conviction

by Dale Chappell

On January 23, 2018, the Court of Appeal of California, Fifth Appellate District, held that theft of a vehicle worth less than $950 was not a felony but a misdemeanor under Vehicle Code § 10851, which is subject to Proposition 47’s new petty theft provision—Penal ...

Even Prosecutors Can’t Get Secret List of L.A. Cops With Credibility Problems

by Dale Chappell

Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell wants to give a secret list of approximately 300 untrustworthy cops to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, so prosecutors know who not to call as a law enforcement witness in a criminal case. The police union, however, is fighting ...

Sixth Circuit: Sentence Enhancement Inapplicable, Sales of Guns and Drugs Separate

by Dale Chappell

Where the negotiation of each transaction was “fully consummated” before the next, the sale of guns and drugs separately was not enough to apply a guideline enhancement, the Sixth Circuit held December 5, 2017.

Darryl Jackson sold drugs and guns to a confidential informant (“CI”), but not ...

Texas Supremes: Possession of Gun Does Not Constitute “Use” Under Forfeiture Statute

by Dale Chappell

The Supreme Court of Texas held that a Texas county commissioner’s misdemeanor conviction for possession of a firearm did not constitute “use” of a firearm under the forfeiture statute, and thus forfeiture was not authorized.

Mark Tafel, a former Hamilton County commissioner, was arrested for possession of ...

Inadequate Public Defender Offices Prompt ACLU Suit

by Dale Chappell

"Innocent until proven guilty” is a “cruel and hollow motto when you don’t have an adequate defense, and the government is employing its vast resources to lock you up and take away your freedom,” the ACLU says in describing its recent class-action lawsuit against Nevada’s public defender ...

Fired New Orleans Cops Just Move to Other Departments

by Dale Chappell

Dozens of New Orleans police officers who have been fired for misconduct were able to keep their badges and guns simply by switching to another police department, according to police personnel files and court documents. The ease with which the fired New Orleans officers found work at ...

Pennsylvania Supreme Court: Police Emergency Lights Next to Parked Car Constitute Seizure

by Dale Chappell

When a Pennsylvania state trooper turned on his emergency lights and pulled next to a car parked on the side of the road, it was an “investigative detention” for which he did not have “reasonable suspicion.” In an issue of first impression before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, ...



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