Dale Chappell

I'm passionate about federal litigation. I love it so much I became a certified paralegal and I contract with law firms doing legal research and writing.

Here’s How to Use A Loss On Direct Appeal To Support A Postconviction Challenge

Most of the time, a direct appeal will expose a defense lawyer’s errors. But it’s hard to see them because too often they are disguised as errors made by the court. If you want to find good ineffective assistance of counsel (IAC) claims, slow down and look at the direct appeal. It will tell you…

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Is Someone ‘In Custody’ if they Must Register as a Sex Offender? The Question is Before the Supreme Court

There’s no argument that having to register as a sex offender causes a severe burden on someone. But does that burden equate to that person being in custody for federal habeas corpus purposes? The federal courts of appeals are divided over this question, and now it has landed before the Supreme Court. Will they settle…

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Federal Court of Appeals Reaffirms that Judicial Participation in Plea Negotiations Best Saved for Section 2255 Motion, Not Direct Appeal

Any allegation that a judge was involved in the plea negotiations is very serious. It suggests the judge may have gone outside the bounds of proper judicial conduct by making or saying inappropriate things during the plea-bargaining process. Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11 (Rule 11) lays out the procedural requirements for accepting guilty pleas,…

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When Should a Court Allow an Amendment to a Civil Claim in Federal Court? Whenever it Relates Back, and that Happens More Often than Not.

It is well established that once the one-year deadline is up for a movant filing to vacate their conviction in federal court under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, no new claims can be raised unless they “relate back” to the original claims in the motion. However, this rule is liberally applied to pro se litigants, and…

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Federal Court Tosses Evidence in Child Porn Case Obtained Under Defective Search Warrant

It’s been said that a prosecutor could convince a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich, and this case proves that a cop could similarly convince a judge to grant a search warrant without any probable cause. Thankfully, a federal judge put a stop to it, although a bit too late. The Cops Came Knocking…

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Federal Court Overturns Firearm Convictions, Despite Leaving Life Sentences Intact

Even though a federal court upheld a prisoner’s life sentence for a RICO murder conviction, it still granted postconviction relief and vacated two illegal convictions for use of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, in light of some recent Supreme Court decisions. Delroy Lee was convicted by a jury of numerous federal…

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Can a Felon Use a Gun in Self-Defense? A Federal Court of Appeals Hints Yes

A federal court has held that a person who is a felon still has the right to argue self-defense with a firearm, despite the fact that he is a convicted felon who cannot possess a firearm under federal law. The court’s decision overturned the lower court’s conclusion that a felon doesn’t have the right to…

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Federal Court of Appeals Tosses Gun Conviction, Finds No Reasonable Suspicion for Arrest

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit held that a man with a sagging sweatshirt acting suspiciously was not enough for “reasonable suspicion” to allow an arrest, agreeing that the evidence in the case should have been suppressed and vacated the conviction. He was thought to be a robbery suspect by a man…

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