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Prisoner Education Guide

Articles by Matthew Clarke

Fifth Circuit: 96-Day Pretrial Detention Without Appearance Before Judge or Chance to Post Bail Violates Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Rights

by Matt Clarke

On October 24, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held that an indicted Mississippi pre-trial detainee’s Fourteenth Amendment due process rights were violated when she was held for 96 days without appearing before a judge or having an opportunity to post bail.

Jessica Jauch was indicted for sale of a Schedule IV controlled substance based upon the word of a confidential informant. The Circuit Clerk of Choctaw County, Mississippi, issued a capias that was served on her after she was arrested for misdemeanor traffic tickets. She quickly cleared the traffic tickets. She was still held in jail, and her requests to be brought before a judge and allowed to post bail denied because Sheriff Cloyd Halford had a policy that felony arrestees be detained until the next term of the Circuit Court.

Finally, 96 days after her arrest, Jauch was appointed counsel and had bail and a trial date set. Six days later, she posted bail. Within four weeks, the prosecutor reviewed the evidence and promptly moved to dismiss the charges. It was uncontested that Jauch was innocent of the drug charges.

Jauch filed a federal civil-rights action against Sheriff Halford and ...

Federal Judge Excludes Evidence After FBI Lies on Search Warrant Affidavit, Geek Squad on FBI payroll

by Matt Clarke

The federal child pornography case against a California doctor was dismissed after the judge excluded all the evidence seized from his home because an FBI agent lied on the affidavit supporting the search warrant for his home, falsely claiming technicians working on the doctor’s computer had discovered child pornography.

Oncologist Dr. Mark Rettenmaier brought a computer to the Geek Squad at Best Buy for repair. It was sent to the company’s central repair facility in Kentucky. There, technicians discovered a photo of a naked girl in the unallocated space of the computer’s hard drive. The photo did not depict a sex act or show the approximately 9-year-old girl’s genitalia. The technicians had an agreement with the FBI office in Louisville in which they were paid each time they tipped the FBI to child pornography on computers they repaired, so they reported the photo.

FBI Special Agent Cynthia Kayle prepared an affidavit for a search warrant of Rettenmaier’s home falsely stating that the image found was child pornography, and not mentioning that it was found in the unallocated space or that the FBI paid the Geek Squad technicians who reported it. Unallocated space is where portions of deleted ...

‘Shaken Baby Syndrome’ Diagnoses Discredited, Convictions Questioned

by Matthew Clarke

The term “junk science” does not quite cover the revolution in our understanding of the diagnosis of shaken baby syndrome. Medical experts now know that their belief in how to diagnose a clear sign of child abuse based upon a determination of shaken baby syndrome was mistaken. This new understanding may cast doubt on hundreds of murder, assault, and child abuse convictions.

In the 1970s, pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. Norman Guthkelch advanced the hypothesis that babies showing a certain pattern of injuries had been violently shaken. He thought he was on solid scientific footing. He adamantly believed that such babies—especially those with the so-call “triad” of brain swelling, together with bleeding on the brain’s surface and behind the retinas—were victims of abuse even if there were no outward signs of injury. “Shaken baby syndrome” soon became a medical consensus. In court, it was accepted as a scientific fact and used to convict hundreds of defendants.

However, over the past two decades, newer scientific research has proven that accidents, diseases, and genetic conditions can cause the damning triad and other symptoms associated with shaken baby syndrome. This has undermined faith in the credibility of a shaken baby syndrome diagnosis ...

‘Broken Windows’ Policing Results in Police Lying About Unlawful Stops

by Matt Clarke

“Broken windows” policing has not been linked to a reduction in serious crime, but it has been linked to an increase in police lying. “Broken windows” policing is based on the belief that aggressive police enforcement of minor criminal violations—such as trespassing, possession of marijuana, or using public transportation without paying—causes a decrease in serious crimes.

To show an increase in enforcement, the arrest rate has to go up, so police officers are told to arrest more citizens. Some are even given daily quotas of arrests to make. A 2016 report by the NYPD’s Office of Inspector General found “no empirical evidence demonstrating a clear and direct link between an increase in summons and misdemeanor arrest activity and a related drop in felony crime.” Nonetheless, “broken windows” policing remains NYPD policy.

A vigilant officer might simply pay more attention to what is going on and pursue even the most minor of offenders. However, this would not ensure that the officer made the necessary quota of arrests.

The lazy and more common approach used by police under the “broken windows” policy is simply to lie. If you stop someone, frisk that person, and find an illegal knife ...

The ‘Office Shuffle’: Ohio Police Recycle Bad Apples Among Rural Departments

by Matt Clarke

An Ohio police officer who resigns under a cloud of pending disciplinary action or who is fired may not have reached the end of a law enforcement career. In some Ohio towns, employment as a police officer in another department is just down the road.

WCPO Cincinnati ...

Controversial Police Interrogation Technique That Often Results in False Confessions Abandoned by Influential Training Consultant

by Matt Clarke

In 1931, a commission to investigate Prohibition-era corruption appointed by President Hoover issued the Wickersham Report. The report criticized the so-called Third Degree, which was the standard police interrogation technique of the time and involved beating a suspect until he or she confessed, then lying about the ...

Texas Quietly Authorizes Nation’s First Public Safety Employees Treatment Courts

by Matt Clarke

With little opposition from either party, the Texas Legislature passed HB 3391, authorizing the creation of the nation’s first public safety employees treatment courts. The courts will allow police, firefighters, prison and jail guards, and emergency medical services employees facing charges to defer criminal prosecution by entering ...

$300,000 Settlement in Suit Over Death of Intoxicated Man Abandoned by Deputies

by Matt Clarke

The family of an intoxicated man abandoned by Delaware County, Ohio, sheriff’s deputies at a Taco Bell before he wandered onto a highway and was fatally struck by a vehicle has settled a lawsuit against the county and several sheriff’s department officials for $300,000.

After several ...

Wisconsin’s 6,000-plus Untested Rape Kits Include Over 2,000 Involving Child Victims

by Matt Clarke

Wisconsin has a huge backlog of untested rape kits. In 2017, state Attorney General Brad Schimel estimated there were more than 6,300 untested rape kits. The number of rape kits involving allegations of child sexual abuse was 2,441 as of late 2017. A little under ...

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Holds Defendant Entitled to Self-Defense Jury Charge if There is Any Evidence to Support It

by Matt Clarke

On September 27, 2017, the Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas held that a judge must issue a jury charge on self-defense in a prosecution for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon even if the defendant’s version of events supporting self-defense is weak, contradicted, or not credible ...


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