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Articles by Douglas Ankney

Minnesota Supreme Court Announces Expanding Scope of Traffic Stop to Investigate Occupant’s Pretrial Release Conditions Violates Minnesota Constitution

by Douglas Ankney

In a case of first impressions, the Supreme Court of Minnesota held that violation of a condition of pretrial release doesn’t constitute criminal activity, so police questioning of a passenger regarding his conditions of pretrial release during a traffic stop exceeds the permissible scope of the traffic ...

Sixth Circuit Reverses Denial of First Step Act Relief Because Sentence Imposed Is Substantively Unreasonable

by Douglas Ankney

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee’s denial of Michael B. Johnson, II’s motion seeking a sentence reduction under § 404 of the First Step Act of 2018 (“FSA”) because the sentence imposed upon ...

Use of Death Penalty Continues to Decline in the U.S.

by Douglas Ankney

In 2021, 11 people in the U.S. were killed as punishment for their crimes. This was the fewest number of Americans in recent history to be subjected to state-sanctioned killing. And it was the seventh consecutive year that fewer than 30 people were executed in the name ...

Seventh Circuit Vacates Sentence Because Government Failed to Meet Its Burden to Support Uncharged Drug Quantity Under Rule 32

by Douglas Ankney

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit admonished that “sentencing proceedings are not a free-for-all” and vacated Edward Gibbs’ sentence where the requirements of Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 32 (“Rule 32”) were not followed when determining the amount of methamphetamine (“meth”) attributable to Gibbs ...

Colorado Supreme Court Announces ‘Reasonable Likelihood’ Framework for Determining Whether Trial Court’s Comments to Prospective Jurors Lowered Prosecution’s Burden of Proof

by Douglas Ankney

In companion cases, the Supreme Court of Colorado adopted the functional “reasonable likelihood” framework for determining whether a trial court’s comments to prospective jurors lowered the prosecution’s burden of proof.

During jury voir dire at Ernest Joseph Tibbels trial on charges that included possession of contraband, the ...

Maryland Court of Appeals: Kazadi Applies to Cases Where Issue Was Preserved at Trial but Appeal Not Yet Noted at Time Kazadi Decided

by Douglas Ankney

The Court of Appeals of Maryland (“MCOA”) held that its holding in Kazadi v. State, 223 A.3d 554 (Md. 2020) applies to cases where a defendant had not yet noted an appeal when Kazadi was issued but had preserved a Kazadi issue at trial.

In Kazadi ...

Fifth Circuit: District Court Miscalculated Sentencing Guidelines Range by Implausibly Finding Defendant Would Use All Cash Proceeds of Drug Sales Seized to Purchase More Meth to Resell

by Douglas Ankney

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held that the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas erred in its drug quantity attribution by implausibly finding that Zaira Valenzuela Lujan would have used all of the $10,694 seized from her to purchase additional ...

Sixth Circuit: COA Not Required to Appeal Order Denying Rule 4(a)(5) Motion for Extension of Time to File Notice of Appeal

by Douglas Ankney

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit held that a Certificate of Appealability (“COA”) is not required when appealing a district court’s order denying a motion for an extension of time to file a notice of appeal brought pursuant to Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure ...

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Clarifies Ex Post Facto Analysis Focuses on When, Not Where, Crime Occurred and Does Not Require Showing of Disadvantage to Defendant

by Douglas Ankney

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania held that the state’s sex-offender registry law constitutes punishment when imposed retroactively to sex offenders who committed their offenses prior to the law’s enactment and whose triggering offenses occurred in another state and thus amounts to an unconstitutional ex post facto law. ...

Inflation Transforming Petty Offenses Into Felonies

by Douglas Ankney

In the recent collective memory of Americans, $200 purchased almost 100 gallons of gasoline. Today, fewer than 50 gallons of gas can be purchased with that same $200. Two years ago, theft of that 50 gallons of gas in New Jersey was a misdemeanor. Today, that same ...



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