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Articles by Derek Gilna

New Jersey Supreme Court Turns Back Constitutional Challenge to the State's Sexually Violent Predator Act

In an opinion decided November 9, 2010, the New Jersey Supreme Court rejected constitutional challenges to their New Jersey Sexually Violent Predator Act, NJSA. In the case, the court ruled against the Defendants dual constitutional challenges to the constitutionality of the statute as applied to individuals such as himself, and ...

7th Circuit Reaffirms Voluntariness of BOP’s Inmate Financial Responsibility Program

In a ruling of significance to the approximately 218,000 prisoners in the Bureau of Prisons (BOP), the Seventh Circuit has reaffirmed that a federal prisoner cannot be ordered by his or her sentencing court to participate in the BOP’s Inmate Financial Responsibility Program (IFRP).

Federal prisoner Ondray McKnight ...

DC Court Disbars Former Federal Prosecutor for Misconduct

On March 8, 2012, for the first time in over ten years, a former federal prosecutor was disbarred for “egregious” misconduct during the prosecution of several high-profile murder cases in the 1990s.

According to a 2010 investigation by USA Today, at that time there had been “201 documented cases since ...

U.S. Citizens Mistakenly Snared, Deported by DHS and ICE

An increasing number of American citizens have been questioned, detained and even deported by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), as a result of databases that incorrectly identify them as undocumented immigrants.

According to the New York Times, “Detentions of citizens are ...

Tenth Circuit: Terrorism Prisoners Lack Liberty Interest in Transfer to ADX

Omar Rezaq, Mohammed Saleh, El-Sayyid Nosair and Ibrahim Elgabrowny, convicted of terrorism-related offenses and confined at the federal supermax ADX facility in Florence, Colorado, filed suit contending they had a liberty interest in “avoiding transfer without due process to the high-security prison.” The district court denied relief, which was affirmed ...

GAO Examines How BOP Can Reduce Prisoners’ Time in Prison

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has released a study on the Bureau of Prisons’ authority to shorten a federal prisoner’s sentence. The Bureau of Prisons (BOP) was found to have three principal authorities with respect to sentence reduction: prisoners can earn up to twelve months off for ...

Supreme Court Adopts Strickland Prejudice Standard for Rejected Plea Bargains

The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 ruling, has extended Strickland guarantees of effective legal representation to defendants entering into plea bargains. According to Justice Anthony Kennedy, who delivered the majority opinion of the Court, “The reality is that plea bargains have become so central to the administration of ...

NY Federal Judge Deals Rare SHU Placement Defeat to BOP

Viktor A. Bout, a Russian international arms dealer ensnared in a DEA sting in 2008, extradited from Thailand and held in the Special Housing Unit (SHU) of the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in New York, won a court order compelling the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to transfer him to ...

The Collapse of American Criminal Justice, by William J. Stuntz (Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2011). 432 pages, $35.00

Book review by Derek Gilna

The late William J. Stuntz, a Harvard law professor who conducted extensive research into the “rule of law” in American society, authored a tome that attempts to explore how the U.S. justice system has arrived at its current state. His posthumously published book, The ...

FBI Loses Prisoner’s Property but Sovereign Immunity Foils Recovery

On May 29, 2012, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals barred Galo Alejandro Ordonez from compensation after the FBI and the federal government acknowledged that property that had been previously seized from him and ordered returned was “presumed to be lost or destroyed.” The appellate court held the government had ...