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Articles by David Reutter

DOJ Finds Unconstitutional Conditions at Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman

by David M. Reutter

On April 20, 2022, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a report finding conditions at the Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman likely violate the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights of the prisoners held there. DOJ is reportedly working with the state Department of Corrections (DOC) ...

South Carolina Judge Halts State Executions by Electrocution and Firing Squad

by David M. Reutter and Ed Lyon

On September 6, 2022, the Richland County Court of Common Pleas granted an injunction in a challenge brought by four condemned South Carolina prisoners to 2021 state legislation making electrocution the default method of execution unless a prisoner opts instead for lethal injection ...

Michigan Supreme Court Says Prisoner’s Possession of Cell Phone by Itself Doesn’t Show Threat to Security

by David M. Reutter

On April 28, 2022, the Michigan Supreme Court held that possession of a cell phone by a prisoner may not justify an enhanced sentence under the state criminal code unless the facts also establish that the prisoner’s conduct actually threatened prison security. That drew a sharp ...

North Dakota Prisoner’s Conviction for Assault on Guard Vacated Due To Erroneous Jury Instruction

by David M. Reutter

On May 26, 2022, the SupremeCourt of North Dakota vacated a state prisoner’s conviction for aggravated assault of a guard because the trial court committed error by instructing the jury on the wrong law under which he was charged.

While held at the North Dakota State ...

Tenth Circuit Vacates Oklahoma Prisoners’ Witness Tampering Conviction

by David M. Reutter

On April 5, 2022, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit held that a conviction for federal witness tampering requires an affirmative answer to two questions: (1) Did the defendant contemplate a particular proceeding in which the witness would testify and (2) was it ...

$6,000 Sanction for Mississippi Federal Prosecutor Who Lied to Court About COVID-19 Vaccination Status

by David M. Reutter

On July 7, 2022, a federal judge for the Southern District of Mississippi levied a $6,000 sanction against a federal prosecutor for lying about his COVID-19 vaccination status.

When Assistant U.S. Attorney Theodore “Ted” Cooperstein was quizzed on three appearances before Judge Carlton W. Reeves on ...

Nebraska Supreme Court Says Revocation of Post-Release Supervision Does Not Bar Prisoner From Earning Good Time Credit

by David M. Reutter

On April 28, 2022, the Nebraska Supreme Court held that a lower state court erred in denying good time credit when resentencing a state prisoner who had violated the terms of his post-release supervision (PRS).

The Court’s opinion was issued in an appeal by Joshua J. ...

Over $386,000 Awarded to Mississippi Prisoner, Plus Hip Surgery He Was Denied

by David M. Reutter

On March 31, 2022, the federal court for the Southern District of Mississippi granted a state prisoner’s petition and enjoined the state Department of Corrections (DOC) to provide him total hip revision surgery. He was also awarded damages and attorney fees totaling over $386,000.

Since age ...

Wisconsin Pays $8,000 To State Prisoner After Seventh Circuit Revives Retaliation Claim Against Guard Over Destroyed Legal Documents

by David M. Reutter

On August 5, 2022, a Wisconsin state prisoner signed off on an agreement to accept $8,000 to resolve claims that a guard destroyed his legal documents in retaliation for a lawsuit the prisoner was preparing to file.

The settlement comes on the heels of a ruling ...

Eighth Circuit Rules Federal Prisoner Need Only Know Item Is Prohibited To Support Conviction for Possession of Contraband

by David M. Reutter

How much actual knowledge does a prisoner need to have of items in his possession to support a contraband conviction? According to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, the answer is “not much.”

That was the Court’s conclusion in a ruling filed on ...