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Articles by Douglas Ankney

Indiana Supreme Court Clarifies Framework for Determining When Courts May Apply Cash Bail to Public-Defender Costs and to Fines, Costs, and Fees

by Douglas Ankney


The Supreme Court of Indiana clarified the framework for determining when a court may apply a cash bail toward payment of public-defender costs and toward payment of fines, costs, and fees.

Tailar L. Spells was arrested on charges related to her altercation with Officer Lynnford Parker ...

Changes to Appeals of Pretrial Detention Decisions Prompts Illinois Supreme Court to Adopt Changes to Appellate Rules

by Douglas Ankney


Due to the monumental increase in the number of appeals of bond decisions, the Illinois Supreme Court adopted new appellate rules recommended by a five-person taskforce (“Taskforce”). The Pretrial Fairness Act (“PFA”), implemented in April of 2023, allows pretrial detainees to appeal district courts’ decisions regarding ...

Medical Examiners’ Biased Manner of Death Determinations Sending Innocent People to Prison and Exonerating Bad Cops

by Douglas Ankney


Bias influencing medical examiners’ manner of death determinations is sending innocent people to prison and exonerating guilty cops. In Mississippi, Rankin County Deputy Hunter Elward pleaded guilty in 2023 to federal charges related to his role in the horrific torture of two Black men by a ...

Seventh Circuit Announces Safety Valve Relief Under § 3553(f) Is Narrower Than Guidelines Firearms Enhancement Under § 2D1.1(b)(1), District Court Erred by Conflating Them

by Douglas Ankney

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit held that the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois erred in conflating the scopes of the no-firearms condition of the “safety valve” of 18 U.S.C. § 3553(f) and the firearms enhancement of U.S. Sentencing Guidelines (“U.S.S.G.”) ...

Fourth Circuit: Maryland’s First-Degree Assault Statute Is Indivisible so Conviction Is Not an ACCA Predicate for Sentencing Enhancement Purposes

by Douglas Ankney

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit held that Maryland’s first-degree assault statute, Md. Code, Art. 27 § 12A -1, is indivisible, and a conviction thereunder is not a “violent felony” for purposes of the Armed Career Criminal Act (“ACCA”), 18 U.S.C. § 924(e).

In 2008, Garfield ...

Tenth Circuit: Plea Not Knowing and Voluntary Where Plea Counsel Materially Misrepresented Defendant’s Right to Impartial Jury Selected Through Racially Nondiscriminatory Means

by Douglas Ankney

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit held that John Miguel Swan’s guilty plea was not knowing and voluntary because “his plea counsel materially misrepresented his right to an impartial jury selected through racially nondiscriminatory means.”

While Swan was being arrested on a domestic violence ...

California Supreme Court: Jury’s Finding of Intent to Kill for Gang Enhancement, Standing Alone, Insufficient to Find Prisoner Failed to State a Prima Facie Case in § 1172.6 Petition for Resentencing on First-Degree Murder Conviction

by Douglas Ankney

The Supreme Court of California held that a jury’s finding that Freddy Alfredo Curiel harbored the requisite intent to kill to find true a gang-murder special circumstance, standing alone, was insufficient for a trial court to find that Curiel had failed to state a prima facie case ...

Non-Toxic Fluorescent Spray Reveals Fingerprints in Seconds

by Douglas Ankney

A team of scientists from China’s Shanghai Normal University in collaboration with scientists from the United Kingdom’s University of Bath have developed a fluorescent spray that reveals fingerprints in seconds without compromising any potential DNA evidence. The dyes used in the spray are manufactured from “Green Fluorescent ...

New York Court of Appeals: SORA Designation Violates Defendant’s Due Process Rights Where Crime Involved No Sexual Contact or Motivation and Defendant Was Not a Sex Offender and Posed No Risk of Sexual Threat

by Douglas Ankney

The Court of Appeals of New York held that application of the Sex Offender Registration Act (“SORA”) to Marcus Brown violated his “due process rights by impinging on his liberty interest to be free of the improper designation and registration as a sex offender” because his offenses ...

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Announces Defendants Under Age 21 Ineligible for LWOP Sentences

by Douglas Ankney

The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts extended the holding of Diatchenko v. District Attorney for the Suffolk Dist., 1 N.E.3d 270 (Mass. 2013) (sentence of life without parole for first-degree murder committed when defendant was under 18 years of age is unconstitutional), to defendants who are “emerging ...



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