Tuesday, January 31, 2012

U.S. v. Jones: Decision Declaring Use of GPS Tracking a Search Leaves Some Unanswered Questions

On January 23, 2012, the United States Supreme Court unanimously held that the attachment of a Global Positioning System (GPS) device to a vehicle utilized to monitor a vehicle’s movements on public streets and obtain data for investigative purposes constitutes a “search” under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution.  Justice Scalia delivered the opinion of the Court, stating that in this case, “the government physically occupied private property for the purposes of obtaining information.” 

Monday, January 30, 2012

U.S. In Iraq: Marine’s Sentence Reduced from 152 Years to a Pay Cut

Concluding a six-year investigation into the killings of two dozen Iraqi civilians in Haditha, Iraq, on Tuesday, January 24, 2012 United States Marine Corps Staff Sergeant, Frank Wuterich, plead guilty to one count of negligent dereliction of duty.  He was sentenced to ninety days imprisonment, but agreed to a plea deal that allowed him to avoid jail time.  While seemingly arbitrary and unjust to some, the plea is a reminder of the difficult and split-second decisions servicemen and women face on a day-to-day basis while in combat overseas.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Beyond Psychological Trauma to Murder

Last week, Joran Van der Sloot confessed to the murder of Peruvian, Stephany Flores.  He was the prime suspect of the 2005 disappearance of American teenager Natalee Holloway while she was vacationing in Aruba.  He fled to Lima, Peru after being investigated for the Holloway disappearance and he met Flores at a casino. He murdered Flores exactly five years after Holloway’s disappearance once he found her reading on the internet about Holloway’s investigations he was involved with. Flores was found strangled on May 31, 2010 in Van der Sloot’s hotel room.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Hidden Crimmigration Lesson Courtesy of Judulang v. Holder

The recent Supreme Court decision in Judulang v. Holder was a narrow but welcome victory among immigration advocates.  It unanimously rejected the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) approach to determining whether to grant discretionary relief from deportation.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

May it “Pleas” the Court?

Before Defendants reach the trial stage, most prosecutors will offer a plea agreement.  A plea agreement is a bargain between the prosecution and the Defendant to have a lowered sentence in exchange for a guilty verdict.  Depending on the crime and the Defendant’s criminal background, different factors influence the agreement offered.  When the odds are stacked against a Defendant, wouldn’t taking a suspended sentence and probation make much more sense than “a day in court” and risking years in jail?  This topic has caused much controversy and tension on both ends of the spectrum.  For some Defendants the most important outcome is a non-guilty verdict, while for others it may be the ability to start working or having the ability to move on with their life, which jail time or certain convictions could prevent.