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Articles by Matthew Clarke

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defense attorney was ineffective for waiting to convey to his client a plea-bargain offer until after it had been withdrawn two and a half days later.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. 30.30 is ...

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]. ...

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 health ...

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 in ...

First Circuit Announces No Joint Participation Exception to Spousal Testimonial Privilege

by Matt Clarke

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit declined to recognize a joint participation exception to the spousal testimonial privilege for married criminal co-conspirators. In deciding upon this issue of first impression in the circuit, the Court affirmed the district court’s determination that such an exception ...

Minnesota Supreme Court Holds Sentencing Guidelines 
at Time of Offense, Not Time of Sentencing, Controls for Purposes of Calculating Criminal History Score

by Matt Clarke 

On August 15, 2018, the Supreme Court of Minnesota held that the classification of a previous offense used to calculate a defendant’s criminal history under Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines 2.B.7.a is controlled by the offense definitions and sentencing policies in effect at the time the offense was ...

West Virginia Supreme Court Vacates Sentence After State Violates Plea Bargain by Making Recommendation at Sentencing

by Matt Clarke

The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia ruled that a prosecutor’s recommendation that sentences should be served consecutively violated a plea agreement requiring the State to “remain silent on a recommendation at sentencing.” The Court vacated the sentence and remanded the case for resentencing before a ...

Tenth Circuit Clarifies Proper Test for Pretrial Hearing on Seized Assets Needed to Retain Counsel

by Matt Clarke

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the proper test for whether a district court should hold a pretrial hearing on a motion challenging the seizure of assets is whether the defendant has sufficient unseized assets to pay the reasonable costs of retaining his choice of ...



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