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Prisoner Education Guide

Articles by Matthew Clarke

Can Criminal Records Ever Truly Be Expunged in the Internet Era?

by Matt Clarke 

Expunction of criminal records is a traditional method of protecting those falsely arrested, falsely convicted, or deemed deserving of a second chance after completing probation. But with the prevalence of mugshot sites and other Internet-based methods of disseminating public information, which are not subject to expunction ...

Eleventh Circuit Rules DEA’s Definition of Positional Isomer Does Not Apply to Substances on Temporary Schedule, Vacates Possession Conviction

by Matt Clarke 

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit held that neither the definition of “positional isomer” set forth in 21 C.F.R. § 1300.0l(b) nor the specific inclusion of ethylone as a positional isomer of the temporary-scheduled substance butylone on the ...

Shooting of Seven-Year-Old Girl in Houston Highlights Problems With Eyewitness Identification

by Matt Clarke

The fatal shooting of a 7-year-old black girl who was riding in a car on a Houston highway, along with her mother and three sisters, is a tragedy that starkly illustrates the problems with eyewitness identification — unreliability. 

Jazmine Barnes was struck by one of many ...

Kentucky Supreme Court Holds State Statute Defining Intellectual Disability as IQ of 70 or Lower Unconstitutional, Death Row Prisoner Entitled to Hearing

by Matt Clarke 

The Supreme Court of Kentucky held that a court erred when it denied a death-sentenced prisoner’s post-conviction motion alleging intellectual disability without a hearing based solely on the prisoner’s IQ exceeding 70. It held that prevailing medical standards should always take precedence in a court’s ...

Connecticut Supreme Court Announces Defense Counsel Has Duty to ‘Promptly’ Notify Defendant of Plea Offer, Failure to Notify Before Testifying Constitutes IAC

by Matt Clarke

The Supreme Court of Connecticut held that a criminal defense attorney was ineffective for waiting to convey to his client a plea-bargain offer until after it had been withdrawn two and a half days later.

Jennifer Helmedach was charged with felony murder and related crimes. She faced ...

NYPD’s Controversial Use of Mugshot Database Searches

by Matt Clarke 

The NYPD’s practice of using a crime victim or witness’ description of a perpetrator to generate a search of the department’s mugshot database, often generating hundreds of hits, has caused controversy and resulted in wrongful arrests. 

New York City resident St. Clair Steward, 43 ...

Bronx Prosecutors Trained to Manipulate System to Delay Trials

by Matt Clarke

Recently revealed internal training documents from the Bronx District Attorney’s Office show that prosecutors are being trained in courtroom techniques designed to delay trial, undermining defendants’ speedy trial rights and extending the pretrial incarceration of those unable to afford bail. 

New York’s C.P.L ...

Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rosenstein Defends Junk Science Forensics

by Matt Clarke

Criminal Legal News and its sister publication, Prison Legal News, have long covered prosecutors’ use of questionable forensics and unscientific lab techniques to secure convictions [PLN Oct. 2010, p. l; Apr. 2015, p. l, and CLN Jan. 2018, p. l; July 2018, p. 36]. 

Reports ...

Third Circuit Orders Habeas Relief Based on Trial Counsel’s Failure to Present or Even Investigate Mental Health and Juvenile Records in Pennsylvania Death Penalty Case

by Matt Clarke 

On July 12, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ordered that habeas relief be provisionally granted in the case of a Pennsylvania death row prisoner whose attorney failed to sufficiently investigate and present mitigation evidence regarding his abusive childhood and mental ...

Sixth Circuit Reverses 60-Month Upward Variance Sentence Based on News Article Provided to Parties by Court at Beginning of Sentencing Hearing

by Matt Clarke 

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit held that an Ohio federal district court erred when it doubled a defendant’s cocaine-possession sentence from the recommended 60 months to 120 months based on an online news article on the increase in drug overdose deaths ...


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