Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Can Defendants Confront Their Accusers When They’re Anonymous?

This year, one of the most interesting cases the Supreme Court had considered whether to hear is Elashi v. United States.  This case has ties to terrorism, inevitably bringing into play a certain level of deference to the government’s national security interest; however the central issue is whether the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution allows the government to present evidence from anonymous witnesses.  While Court denied the defendants’ petition for certiorari on October 29, the case involves interesting questions that could be repeated in the future.

DOJ Seeks to Stop the “school-to-prison pipeline” in Meridian, Mississippi

In the past, groups like ACLU and NYCLU have filed suits where policies and practices have led to the exacerbation of the “school-to-prison pipeline” problem. [1] In December of 2011, the U.S Department of Justice began investigating these practices in Lauderdale County in Meridian, Mississippi.  The Department of Justice revealed its findings on August 10, 2012, and gave the city 60 days to address the violations listed in their report.[2]  During the 60 days the city did not fully cooperate with the Department of Justice to resolve the inadequacies.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Giving Birth in Shackles

On October 17, 2012, it was announced that the Virginia Board of Corrections approved tentative regulations to restrict the use of shackles on pregnant inmates.  Virginia’s regulations to restrict the shackling of pregnant inmates come just weeks after California passed Assembly Bill 2530 (AB 2530).[1]  The Virginia regulations will permit handcuffing pregnant inmates during transportation outside the jail but it will prohibit all restraints during labor and delivery.[2]  AB 2530 completely bans the use of shackles on pregnant inmates while they are in labor, delivery, recovery, and even after delivery.  California’s bill prohibits restraint by the wrists, ankles, or both, unless it is deemed necessary for the security of the inmate or the safety of the staff or public.  A federal court has concluded shackling pregnant inmates during labor and delivery is unconstitutional.  Yet, many states continue to use this unconstitutional practice. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Is the Use of Checks Covered by Texas Money Laundering Law?

Tom Delay, the former U.S. House Majority Leader convicted for money laundering, made his appearance in court on October 10, 2012 to make his case for innocence. [1]  Mr. Delay has been free on bond since his sentencing in 2011 and since then spent his time making appearances on the reality television show "Dancing with the Stars." [2]  If Mr. Delay loses his current appeal, he can potentially appeal to the state's Court of Criminal Appeals.  However, if the conviction is upheld, Mr. Delay may face up to three years in prison and five years of probation. [1]

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

California Puts the Death Penalty Issue to Referendum

This November, voters in California will be doing more than checking a box for a presidential candidate.  Proposition 34 on the ballot asks voters to abolish the death penalty in favor of lifetime prison sentences without the possibility of parole.  The proposed statute would apply retroactively, automatically commuting current death row prisoners’ sentences to life imprisonment.  If California decides to abolish the death penalty, it will be the 38th state to do so.  Just last year, both Illinois and Connecticut outlawed capital punishment by passing laws in the state legislature.  California will leave the decision up to its state citizens by putting the question to a referendum.  According to California state election law, Proposition 34 will only be repealed if it receives more “No” votes than “Yes” votes

Friday, October 12, 2012

Art Theft: The Unseen Masterpiece

Sometime between September 12 and September 14, 2012, burglars broke into the Santa Monica home of wealthy bond expert, Jeffrey Gundlach.  While the exact target of the burglars remains unknown, they surely recognized the monetary value of Mr. Gundlach’s vast collection of expensive artwork from famous artists such as Joseph Cornell, Piet Mondrian, Guy Rose, and Philip Guston.  Sparing little, the burglars fled with roughly $10 million of Mr. Gundlach’s possessions including thirteen paintings, a multitude of expensive watches, and bottles of fine wine.  In an ending seemingly scripted for Hollywood, the burglars piled into Mr. Gundlach’s red Porsche Carrera 4S and drove away into the night, but only after remembering to close the garage door on the way out.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Doing Time “Gangham Style”

Many people are familiar with the dancing inmates of the Cebu Provincial Detention and (DRC) thanks to their rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” that went viral on Youtube.[1]  Well these dancing inmates are at it again, this time with a performance of Psy’s “Gangham Style”, the music video that now holds the Guinness World Record for most likes on Youtube.  Cebu’s rendition of this music video has been uploaded for a little more than a week and already has over three million views.[2]  While these videos are entertaining they also bring another question to mind.  Is this choreographed exercise program at CPDRC a good form of rehabilitation?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Supreme Court Watch: Florida v. Jardines––October 31, 2012

On October 31st, the United States Supreme Court will hear oral argument in Florida v. Jardines, (October Term 2012, 11-564) (for the Florida Supreme Court’s opinion click here).  This case presents a Fourth Amendment issue:  Is a dog sniff at the front door of a suspected grow house by a trained drug-detection dog a search requiring probable cause?

Friday, October 5, 2012

Legalizing Prostitution

“Baby, cash money.”  With these words a Colombian prostitute initiated a deal with a U.S. Secret Service Agent that would eventually create a scandal and embarrass the entire agency.  Widely considered the “world’s oldest profession”­­––prostitution is the act of performing sexual acts in exchange for money.  It’s interesting though, that the world’s oldest profession is a crime in many places.  Just last week, on September 25, 2012, Anne Gristina plead guilty to running a prostitution ring in New York.  She’s not the first person to be convicted of assisting with prostitution.  Heidi Fleiss is one of the more famous people who got convicted for participating in the prostitution.  Around the world, in a survey of one hundred countries, at least 61% have some form of legal prostitution.  Today in the United States, prostitution is illegal everywhere except for 11 counties in Nevada.  Should prostitution be a crime in the U.S.?   

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Will the Supreme Court Address Whether the Government May Abolish the Insanity Defense?

The Supreme Court’s new term started October 1st, but the Court met on September 24th to consider whether to grant new cases.  One case that the Court is still considering hearing is Delling v. Idaho.[1]  The main issue in Delling is whether Idaho violated the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution by abolishing the insanity defense in criminal cases.  The Court has never addressed what the answer to this question might be; if the Court hears it, Delling will be the first time states have any guidance as to the constitutionality of outlawing the insanity defense in criminal cases.