On Wednesday April 17th, 2012 the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case Salinas v. Texas. This case will test an issue that has deeply divided the circuits—whether, even before an arrest, an individual has the right to remain silent during an interview with police, and suffer no legal consequences from this action. So far, ten lower federal and state courts have ruled that the Fifth Amendment does apply to silence before arrest, and before police have the duty to give Miranda warnings, with about as many lower courts ruling that it does not.
Friday, April 19, 2013
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Article 60 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice: Is Hagel’s Proposed Change an Appropriate Response?
On April 8, 2013, new Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced that he has ordered the Pentagon to prepare legislation to Congress that would change Article 60 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). Sec. Hagel wants to amend the UCMJ to take away the ability of convening authorities to change the findings of a court-martial for major offenses that would normally require a court-martial. A convening authority is the military officer responsible for appointing court members and the military judge for a court martial. Sec. Hagel also wants to require convening authorities to provide written decisions for their decisions to overturn minor offenses. Sec. Hagel’s statement said “[t]hese changes . . . would help ensure that our military justice system works fairly, ensures due process, and is accountable.”
Thursday, April 11, 2013
On March 28, 2013, Suffolk County officials busted five suspects of an international counterfeiting ring. The ring sold fashion knockoff items of brands such as North Face, Uggs, Coach, Louis Vuiton, Tory Burch, Michael Kors, Oakley, Kate Spade, Nike, Prada, Tiffany, and other brands stored in Queens facilities. Every imported item, manufactured in China, was a counterfeit. All five suspects have been indicted on conspiracy and trademark counterfeiting charges. This recent news event is an example of direct anti-counterfeiting efforts to fight the counterfeit market. The fashion industry is one of many industries to have fallen prey to counterfeiting, but legislation and action by the courts and law enforcement have directly impacted the effects and attempts of market penetration by counterfeiters. This is important because counterfeiting, if expanded to a large scale, can create hazards and a destructive environment –such as when the New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority unknowingly bought counterfeit trains from a manufacturer that ended up falling off the tracks.
Friday, April 5, 2013
On March 28, 2013, an Arizona federal court heard arguments regarding the admissibility of incriminating evidence collected by the FBI using a sophisticated cell phone tracking device, the “Stingray,” in the case of Daniel Rigmaiden. In 2008, Daniel Rigmaiden was arrested for his alleged involvement in organizing a multi-state operation to defraud the IRS. Raigmaiden and his conspirators allegedly used approximately 175 different IP addresses to file over 1,900 fraudulent tax returns, and made over $4 million in the process.
Tuesday, April 2, 2013
dog sniff at the front door of a house where the police suspected drugs were being grown constitutes a search for purposes of the Fourth Amendment. This case follows closely behind Florida v. Harris, where the Court in February ruled that an alert from a well-trained narcotics detection dog certified to detect illegal contraband is sufficient to establish probable cause for the search of a vehicle, reversing the Florida Supreme Court. The decision in that case was unanimous.
The Supreme Court held oral arguments for two same-sex marriage cases this past Tuesday and Wednesday. Both cases have drawn so much attention that people started to line-up in the front of the Court the Friday prior. Interestingly, not everyone in line wanted to be part of the historic moment; instead, some of them were paid to be there so interested parties could get the limited seats to the courtroom on the day of the argument—this is the first time that people line up three days in advance at the Supreme Court. Clearly, this shows the historic prominence of these two cases.
Friday, March 29, 2013
On March 15th, 2013, the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled in Commonwealth v. Romero that the driver of a vehicle, who knew a passenger had possession of a firearm, could not be held criminally liable based on the driver’s knowledge alone. In Romero, the defendant was charged with possession of a firearm and a jury found him guilty. However, the defendant did not have physical possession of the firearm. The firearm was physically possessed by a passenger in the defendant’s vehicle.
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
On March 19, 2013, Kevin Clash, most famously known for his role as Elmo’s Puppeteer, has been charged with his fourth underage sex accusation. Since the allegations arose, Clash has resigned from his role as Elmo’s Puppeteer. Clash is accused by Sheldon Stephens, 24, of “baiting him into an X-rated affair fueled by crystal meth when he was just 16.” Stephens claims that Clash sent chauffeurs to deliver Stephens from his home in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to New York for crystal meth sex parties. Stephens’ lawsuit accuses Clash of sexual battery for child sexual abuse, travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct, and coercion and enticement to sexual activity. The suit states, “While in the apartment, Clash smoked crystal meth while engaging in sexual activity with Sheldon. Clash also gave Sheldon ‘poppers’ as a sexual aide. While Clash had sexual contact with Sheldon, the chauffer watched and masturbated.”