L2OJ Project

What is the L2OJ Project?

When I went to federal prison many years ago, my son wrote me a letter and made a profound quote that stuck with me:

When life hands you lemons, make orange juice and leave people wondering how you did it.

That motivated me to make the most of a bad situation, and I did. Now I want to “give back” and help others turn lemons into OJ, by educating prisoners on how to file better claims in court to obtain relief from wrongful convictions and sentences.

L2OJ’s Mission Statement sums up best why it exists:

The L2OJ project educates prisoners on post-conviction remedies and filing procedures in an effort to reduce or eliminate the roadblocks to relief in federal court.

Why the L2OJ Project is Needed

Not long ago, it used to be that a state or federal prisoner could file a challenge to an illegal sentence at any point without too many stumbling blocks. But a few decades ago, the “tough on crime” era led to an explosion in the nation’s prison population, and federal judges became overwhelmed with challenges to convictions and sentences. They complained that most claims were “frivolous,” or without legal merit, and that these filings take up valuable time and resources.

The judges created procedural obstacles in an effort to block the filings, and then Congress stepped in and made it official, by codifying these obstacles into law under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. Now those obstacles became absolute bars to relief, taking any discretion away from judges, even for clearly illegal convictions and sentences.

Some organizations have set out to overturn the AEDPA. That’s a noble idea, but I think another way is to fix the problem that brought about those obstacles in the first place. We have to give lawmakers a reason to remove obstacles created by the AEDPA. I don’t think prisoners purposely file frivolous claims to anger the judges. I think most of them just don’t know what they’re doing and are frustrated by the broken criminal justice system.

This is why the L2OJ Project exists: To cure this “ignorance of the law” and allow prisoners to file claims that would be worthy of a judge’s time.

Let me know what you think!


Dale Chappell

Related posts from the Zen Law Guy blog

  • Giving Prisoners a Second Chance in Court - It`s no secret that nearly every request for post-conviction relief by a prisoner gets tossed out of court before it even begins. This is because of the procedural hurdles that lawmakers and judges have thrown in the way of relief, even for valid claims. Lots of organizations and groups have attempted to fix the problem, […]

Contact L2OJ

To inquire about the L2OJ Project — or to get involved — please use the contact form below.

As always, while debate is welcome, hate speech is not. Let’s focus on helping people. Thanks!


Dale Chappell, the Zen Law Guy

L2OJ is an independent entity.