The Defender Services Office Training Division furthers the right to effective assistance of counsel by providing training and other resources to attorneys appointed under the Criminal Justice Act.

    December 15, 2014
    Supreme Court Holds Traffic Stop Based on Mistake of Law Still Proper; Grants Cert on Retroactivity of Miller v. Alabama

    Today, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Heien v. North Carolina (No.13-604), holding that a police officer's traffic stop did not violate the Fourth Amendment even though it was based on a mistake of law. 

    The Court also granted cert last Friday in Toca v. Louisiana (No. 14-6381) to determine (1) Whether the decision in Miller v. Alabama, limiting sentences of life without parole for minors who commit murder, applies retroactively in this case; and 2) Whether a federal question is raised by a claim that a state collateral review court erroneously failed to find a exception?

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    December 10, 2014
    Recent Supreme Court Cert Grants and Opinions of Interest to CJA Practitioners

    In a unanimous opinion issued on December 8 - Warger v. Shauers (No.13-517) - the Supreme Court held that FRE 606(b) precludes a party seeking a new trial from using one juror's affidavit of what another juror said in deliberations to demonstrate the other juror's dishonesty during voir dire.  For an analysis of the opinion see this SCOTUSblog post

    On December 5, the Supreme Court granted cert in Brumfield v. Cain (No. 13-1433) to address the following issues:

    (1) Whether a state court that considers the evidence presented at a petitioner’s penalty phase proceeding as determinative of the petitioner’s claim of mental retardation under Atkins v. Virginia has based its decision on an unreasonable determination of facts under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(2); and (2) whether a state court that denies funding to an indigent petitioner who has no other means of obtaining evidence of his mental retardation has denied petitioner his “opportunity to be heard,” contrary to Atkins and Ford v. Wainwright and his constitutional right to be provided with the “basic tools” for an adequate defense, contrary to Ake v. Oklahoma.

    Earlier in the term, the Court granted cert in another habeas case Chappel v. Ayala (No. 13-1428) to address: (1) whether a state court's rejection of a claim of federal constitutional error on the ground that any error, if one occurred, was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt is an “adjudicat[ion] on the merits” within the meaning of 28 U.S.C.
    § 2254(d), so that a federal court may set aside the resulting final state conviction only if the defendant can satisfy the restrictive standards imposed by that provision;  and (2) whether the Court of Appeals properly applied the standard articulated in Brecht v.

    And in Henderson v. United States (No. 13-1487) the Court will determine whether a felony conviction, which makes it unlawful for the defendant to possess a firearm, prevents a court under FRCP 41(g) or under general equity principles from ordering that the government (1) transfer non-contraband firearms to an unrelated third party to whom the defendant has sold all his property interests; or (2) sell the firearms for the benefit of the defendant.

    November 03, 2014
    New Sentencing Guidelines Manual Now Available

    The 2014 Sentencing Guidelines Manual is now available in both PDF and HTML formats. 

    For an overview of the amendments that took effect on November 1, 2014, see this Summary of 2014 Amendments to the Sentencing Guidelines by National Sentencing Resource Counsel. 

    For guidance on the 2014 Amendments to USSG § 1B1.10, see FAQS: 2014 Amendments to USSG § 1B1.10: Retroactivity of "Drugs Minus 2" (Amendment 782) and Sentence Reductions in Cases Involving Mandatory Minimums and Substantial Assistance.


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