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Articles by Douglas Ankney

Using Algorithms to Erase Pot Convictions in California

by Douglas Ankney

In 2016, California voters legalized marijuana. They also approved a proposition that allowed the state to expunge past pot convictions. But the law places many hurdles in the path of expungement.

“The way the legislation was written really kind of puts it all on the people that ...

Colorado Supreme Court Announces Clarifications and Modifications to Proportionality Review Standard as Applied to Habitual-Offender Sentences

by Douglas Ankney

On November 4, 2019, the Supreme Court of Colorado announced clarifications and modifications to proportionality reviews of habitual-offender sentences.

Belinda May Wells-Yates was found guilty of second-degree burglary, conspiracy to commit second-degree burglary, theft, possession with intent to sell or distribute 7 grams or less of methamphetamine, ...

NJ Supreme Court: Confession not Voluntary Where Police Tell Suspect Truth Would Set Him Free, Promise Him Counseling Instead of Jail, and Minimize Seriousness of Offenses

by Douglas Ankney

The Supreme Court of New Jersey held that a confession is not voluntary when police induce a suspect to confess by saying to him, “Telling the truth will set you free,” assuring him he will not go to jail but instead will receive counseling and minimizing the ...

Eleventh Circuit: Conspiracy to Commit Hobbs Act Robbery not a Crime of Violence Under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)

by Douglas Ankney

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit held that conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery is not a crime of violence as defined by 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(3).

In 2014, Michael Brown pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery in violation of 18 ...

On Remand from Supreme Court, Eleventh Circuit Holds in Specific Circumstances an Ake Violation Constitutes Structural Error

by Douglas Ankney

On remand from the Supreme Court of the United States (“SCOTUS”), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit held that in the particular facts and circumstances of James McWilliams’ sentencing, the Alabama sentencing court’s violation of the provisions of Ake v. Oklahoma, 470 U.S. 68 ...

Refusing to Permit Attorney to Make Offer of Proof Is Abuse of Discretion, Says Indiana Supreme Court

by Douglas Ankney

The Supreme Court of Indiana held that a superior court abuses its discretion when it refuses to allow an attorney to make an offer of proof when the attorney has done nothing to delay or abuse the trial process.

In 2011, the Marion Superior Court sentenced Anthony ...

Payouts for Police Misconduct Claims Rise While Number of Claims Appear to Fall

by Douglas Ankney

Municipalities and insurers are spending more in costs and payouts from law enforcement misconduct claims, but it appears that the total number of claims is dropping.

The rise in costs may be attributed to the heightened public focus on holding police accountable. “In the last five years, ...

Michigan Supreme Court Reverses Criminal Sexual Conduct Convictions in Two Consolidated Cases Due to Improperly Admitted Expert Testimony

by Douglas Ankney

The Supreme Court of Michigan reversed convictions for criminal sexual conduct in two consolidated cases due to improperly admitted testimony of expert witnesses.

Joshua Thorpe was in a relationship with Chelsie. The couple had a daughter together. Chelsie also had a daughter from a previous relationship (identified ...

New Law Makes It Harder for California’s Cops to Get Away with Killing People

by Douglas Ankney

Beginning January 1, 2020, cops in California will be allowed to use deadly force only when the “officer reasonably believes ... that deadly force is necessary to defend against an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury.”

The law was inspired by the 2018 shooting of ...

Not Guilty but Punished Anyway

by Douglas Ankney

Many people are aware that Pilate found Jesus “not guilty,” but Jesus was sentenced to death anyway. Fortunately, the American system of justice doesn’t permit such outcomes. Or does it?

According to, federal judges can — and often do — use what is called “acquitted conduct” ...



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