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Articles by Douglas Ankney

Fourth Circuit Reverses Dismissal of Habeas and Remands for Hearing on Actual Innocence Claim

by Douglas Ankney

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit reversed the district court’s dismissal of Charles Ray Finch’s habeas petition and remanded for a hearing on the merits of Finch’s claim of actual innocence.

In 1976, a jury in Wilson, North Carolina, convicted Finch of first-degree murder. ...

Seventh Circuit: Failure to Disclose that Star Witness Was Hypnotized is 'Brady' Violation

by Douglas Ankney

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled that the State concealed materially exculpatory evidence in violation of Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), when it failed to disclose that the prosecution’s only witness to identify the defendant was hypnotized before trial.

In ...

Georgia Supreme Court: Statutes Permitting a Defendant’s Refusal to Submit to Breath Tests to Be Admitted into Evidence Are Unconstitutional

by Douglas Ankney

The Supreme Court of Georgia held that OCGA §§ 40-5-67.1(b) and 40-6-392(d), to the extent that they allow a defendant’s refusal to submit to a breath test to be admitted as evidence, violate Article I, Section I, Paragraph XVI (“Paragraph XVI”) of the Georgia Constitution.

Andrea Elliott ...

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Retroactively Applies Birchfield, Holding that Enhanced Criminal Penalties for Refusing Warrantless Blood Tests are Unconstitutional

by Douglas Ankney

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania retroactively applied Birchfield v. North Dakota, 136 S.Ct. 2160 (2016), holding that Samuel Anthony Monarch’s enhanced penalties for refusing warrantless blood tests following his arrest for driving under the influence (“DUI”) were unconstitutional.

In July 2015, Monarch was suspected of DUI. ...

First Circuit: Failure to Prove a Prior Conviction Was a ‘Controlled Substance Offense’ Under the Guidelines Requires Resentencing

by Douglas Ankney

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit held that when the Government fails to prove a prior conviction was for a controlled substance as defined by U.S. Sentencing Guideline (“U.S.S.G.”) 4B1.2(b), the defendant is entitled to resentencing.

Jose Martinez-Benitez pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm ...

SCOTUS: Presumption of Prejudice Recognized in Flores-Ortega Applies Regardless of Defendant’s Appeal Waiver

by Douglas Ankney

The Supreme Court of the United States (“SCOTUS”) held that the presumption of prejudice recognized in Roe v. Flores-Ortega, 528 U.S. 470 (2000), applies regardless of whether a defendant has signed an appeal waiver.

Gilberto Garza, Jr. signed two plea agreements. In the agreements, Idaho agreed: ...

Third Circuit: Pennsylvania’s SORNA Requirements Sufficiently Restrictive to Constitute Custody for Habeas Jurisdiction

by Douglas Ankney

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit held that the registration and reporting requirements of Pennsylvania’s Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (“SORNA”) are sufficiently restrictive to constitute custody for the purposes of habeas corpus jurisdiction.

Jason Piasecki was convicted in the Court of Common ...

Nebraska’s Death Row Prisoners Must Bring ‘Repeal Challenges’ Individually

by Douglas Ankney

The Supreme Court of Nebraska has dismissed on technical grounds a lawsuit filed by eight death-row prisoners represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (“ACLU”).  The suit alleged the death sentences of Nebraska’s death-row prisoners must be converted to life sentences because the Nebraska Legislature repealed ...

$8.4 Million Combined Settlement Reached by ‘Norfolk Four’

by Douglas Ankney

Four former Navy sailors (the “Norfolk Four”), who were wrongly convicted of the rape and murder of Michelle Bosko, agreed to a $4.9 million settlement with the City of Norfolk, Virginia. 

Governor Ralph Northam then signed legislation directing that the men receive an additional $3.5 million ...

Georgia Supreme Court Announces Defendant May Invoke Rape Shield Statute to Bar State From Offering Evidence of Victim’s Past Sexual Behavior

by Douglas Ankney

The Supreme Court of Georgia held that a defendant may invoke O.C.G.A. § 24-4-412 (“Rape Shield Statute”) to prohibit the State from offering evidence of a complaining witness’ past sexual behavior. In so doing, the Court overruled prior decisions of the Court of Appeals that held the ...



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