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Articles by Matthew Clarke

Attorney General Garland Orders Federal Prosecutors to End Sentencing Disparities Between Crack and Powder Cocaine

by Matt Clarke

On December 16, 2022, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland issued a memorandum to all federal prosecutors instructing them to seek to have defendants charged with drug offenses involving crack cocaine charged such that the sentence would be the same as if it involved powder cocaine, unless the ...

California Court of Appeal: Trial Court’s Denial of Faretta Request Without Finding of ‘Severe Mental Illness’ Denied Defendant Sixth Amendment Right to Self-Representation

by Matt Clarke

The Court of Appeal of California, Fourth Appellate District, reversed a conviction for assault on a peace officer by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury in violation of Penal Code § 245(c) after finding that the trial court erred in denying the defendant’s request ...

Ninth Circuit: No Qualified Immunity for Detective Who Arrested Anti-Police-Slogan Sidewalk Chalkers, but Not Other Chalkers Whose Content Wasn’t Anti-Police, Even Though There Was Probable Cause to Arrest

by Matt Clarke

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that a Las Vegas, Nevada, police detective was not entitled to qualified immunity for arresting sidewalk chalkers who had chalked anti-police slogans, when he did not arrest other chalkers whose themes were not anti-police, even though he ...

Sixth Circuit: Unarmed Bank Robber Who Ordered Tellers to Get on the Floor Not Subject to Enhancement for Physical Restraint

by Matt Clarke

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit held that the sentence of a convicted bank robber who did not have a gun, did not touch, bind, tie up, or lock up bank employees and did not tell them to move to another location could not ...

Fifth Circuit Announces Louisiana Aggravated Assault With Firearm Still Not ‘Crime of Violence’ After 2012 Amendment for Purposes of Sentencing Guidelines

by Matt Clarke

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held that a prior conviction for aggravated assault with a firearm under Louisiana state law, La. R.S. 14:37.4 is not categorically a “crime of violence” as defined by U.S. Sentencing Guidelines § 4B1.2(a) and therefore could not be ...

Washington Supreme Court Clarifies Burden of Production Standard for Entrapment to Be Entitled to Jury Instruction

by Matt Clarke

The Supreme Court of Washington held that a trial court erred when it refused to permit an attempted child rape defendant to introduce evidence of his lack of a criminal history to support his claim of lack of propensity to commit the crime and denied his requested ...

California Court of Appeal Announces Term ‘Actual Killer’ in Revised Felony-Murder Statute Refers to Person Who ‘Personally Killed’ Victim, Not Necessarily Same as Person Who ‘Caused’ Death, for Resentencing Purposes Under § 1170.95

by Matt Clarke

The Court of Appeal of California, Fourth Appellate District, held that the term “actual killer” as used in California Penal Code§ 189(e)(l) — as revised by Senate Bill 1437, which amended the felony-murder rule and natural and probable cause doctrine — means the person who “personally killed ...

Drug Detection Dogs Are Unreliable and Reflect the Vicious Heritage of Their Slave-Hunting Dog and Police-Dog Predecessors

by Matt Clarke
LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIALS OFTEN deploy trained dogs to detect drugs, but how accurate are the canine sniffs? Since the dog cannot testify, the courts have simply accepted that a certified drug dog is sufficient to provide probable cause for a search when the dog alerts its handlers, ...

California Supreme Court Announces Conspiracy to Commit Home Invasion Robbery Not Subject to Enhancement to Indeterminate Life Sentence Under Penal Code § 186.22(b)(4)

by Matt Clarke

The Supreme Court of California held that conspiracy to commit home invasion robbery is not subject to enhancement to an indeterminate life sentence under California Penal Code § 186.22(b)(4).

Police investigating the Norteño criminal street gang had wire taps and live surveillance in place as Pedro Lopez ...

Third Circuit: District Court’s Focus on Substance of Defendant’s Meritless Arguments in Denying Request to Represent Himself Resulted in Inadequate Inquiry Prior to Denial in Violation of Sixth Amendment

by Matt Clarke

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit held that U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania erred when it denied a federal criminal defendant’s request to represent himself without first conducting an adequate inquiry.

Donte Taylor was serving parole after having been ...



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