Articles Posted in Federal Law

The State of Alabama is in crisis. Our Speaker of the State House of Representatives, our Governor, and our Chief Justice of the Supreme Court all are hamstrung by accusations of impropriety, abuse of their authority, and failure to execute their office in accordance with their oath. Each is finding out what life is like on the wrong end of allegations. Meanwhile in the US District Court, the Middle District of Alabama is in the midst of a judicial emergency, having lost one District Judge to resignation and another to senior status. The presiding judge is handling the workload that previously was divided among 3 judges. Where and when can we expect relief?

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Andrew Skier, founder and chief trial counsel of Skier & Associates will attend the National Conference of Criminal Justice Act (CJA) Panel District Representatives March 4-5 in San Francisco, CA. This will mark the fifth year that Mr. Skier will represent Alabama’s Middle Judicial District at this national gathering.

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Andrew M. Skier, founder and lead trial counsel of Skier & Associates, has been invited by Committee Chair, Hon. Judge Kathleen Cardone, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, to testify before her Ad Hoc Committee to Review the Criminal Justice Act.

The purpose of this committee is to evaluate the effectiveness of current policies and governance structures and their impact on the appointment and compensation of counsel, quality of legal representation, program administration, and adequacy of funding.

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It seems to me that, on the whole, the American Public is becoming more aware of, sensitive to, and more thoughtful regarding how we as a society view criminal trials and the criminal justice system in general. I can’t help but believe this is a good thing, as more people become aware of the inherent problems and injustices faced by the accused, and especially the poor accused, on a daily basis.

In recent weeks, “Making a Murderer,” which chronicles the prosecution of felony cases and highlights weaknesses in the system, became a runaway sensation. The podcast “Serial,” which chronicles another problematic murder case which to that point had received little or no media attention has also been immensely popular.

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We wrote in March, 2015 about the possibility of the US Supreme Court reviewing the concept of Judicial Override in Capital Murder cases. This scheme allows a judge to “override” a jury and sentence a defendant to death despite the jury’s recommendation. This week, the US Supreme Court ruled in Hurst v. Florida that this sentencing structure violates the 6th Amendment to the Constitution.

This is good news.

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I have recently been involved in a case in Federal Court in which my client (a licensed professional) may be subject to removal (deportation) from the United States because of his guilty plea to a felony charge. This case is made even more tragic because my client, a citizen of Mexico, has been a permanent resident of the US since age 5.

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There have been encouraging signs of change coming in the area of Criminal Justice Reform lately, both in Alabama and in the Federal courts. Leaders in both areas have apparently come to the reasonable conclusion that the current system is untenable and unsustainable in the long term. Have we seen the beginning of a thaw in tough mandatory sentences?

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Skier & Associates is proud to announce that founder Andrew M. Skier has been selected to attend the National Federal Defenders’ Trial Skills Academy in San Diego, California.  This prestigious week-long program brings federal practitioners from around the country to work together on all aspects of preparing and trying criminal cases.

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I was recently contacted by a reporter from the Wall Street Journal who was working on a story about inmates in state prisons having their identities stolen while they are incarcerated. I was quoted in his article and there is a brief discussion of United States v. Bryant Thompson, a case I tried in the Federal Court for the Middle District of Alabama a little over a year ago.

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