Monday, July 30, 2012

Supreme Court Set to Rule on Whether the Use of Drug-Sniffing Dogs Around the Exterior of the Home are a Violation of the Fourth Amendment’s Right to Privacy.

The Supreme Court is currently on summer recess; however, there are some interesting criminal procedure cases that the Court will hear when the new term begins in October.  One of these cases, Florida v. Jardines, has to do with how police may use canines trained to detect narcotics without violating an individual’s Fourth Amendment right to privacy.  In this case the Florida Supreme Court held that the factual situation surrounding the law enforcement’s use of drug-sniffing dogs violated an individual’s right to privacy under the Fourth Amendment. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Aurora, Colorado Theater Shooting – What Can the Public Expect in the Coming Months?

The horrendous and tragic details of what occurred in the Aurora, Colorado movie theater on July 20 have been well documented over the past week (for a review, please see the following link:  Unfortunately, the aftermath of this atrocity will lead to a surplus of social and legal questions that the public and pundits alike will debate.  What are some of the political issues that have already emerged? And, what can we expect from the criminal proceedings in the coming months?

Monday, July 23, 2012

How Will New Jersey’s New Eyewitness Identification Rules Impact Criminal Justice?

On July 19, 2012, the New Jersey Supreme Court issued new rules confirming a growing concern that eyewitness testimony and memory are not inherently reliable.  The New Jersey Supreme Court set essentially two new standards for the manner in which the justice system should handle eyewitness testimony.   Police investigators administering an identification lineup or photo-array are now required to make a record of the entire procedure either through taking notes or electronically. If the investigators fail to do so, the witness’s identification can be thrown out.  Such recording procedures are important to ensure that the witness is not improperly influenced by an investigator’s comments. Equally important, the recording will ensure the manner in which the witness identified the suspect.  .  The manner in which an eyewitness identification is made is an important fact for any defense attorney who is attempting to challenge an eyewitness’s identification.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Stolen Valor Act Held Unconstitutional, Supreme Court Says Not Valid Under First Amendment

On June 28, 2012, the United States Supreme Court affirmed the Ninth Circuit Court’s decision in United States v. Alvarez and held the Stolen Valor Act (18 U.S.C. § 704) invalid under the First Amendment.  President George W. Bush signed the Stolen Valor Act of 2005 into law on December 20, 2006, which broadens previous provisions addressing the unauthorized wear, manufacture, or sale of any military decorations and medals.  The Act makes it a misdemeanor to falsely represent oneself as having received any U.S. military decoration or medal.  If convicted, defendants may be imprisoned for up to six months, unless the decoration at issue is the Medal of Honor, in which case imprisonment could be up to one year.   The law was passed to prevent imposters from “stealing the valor” of soldiers returning from engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan.  In 2009 alone, the Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated 200 alleged violations of the Act.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Lubanga Sentenced to Fourteen Years: What Should the ICC Learn From His Case?

On Tuesday, July 10, 2012, the International Criminal Court (ICC) sentenced Thomas Lubanga, a Congolese warlord, to fourteen years in prison for the war crime of enlisting child soldiers under the age of fifteen.  The verdict comes after a controversial six-year proceeding delayed by the failure to disclose potentially exculpatory information by the former ICC Prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, as well as accusations of testimony fabrication at the hands of prosecutorial intermediaries.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Despite Governor’s Disapproval, North Carolina’s Legislature Favors Racial Injustice

On Monday, June 28th 2012, the Republican-led North Carolina legislature voted to repeal Governor Perdue’s veto of the newly amended 2012 Racial Justice Act.  The legislature attempted to amend the 2009 Act during the previous legislative session, but failed to obtain enough votes to override the Democratic Governor’s veto.  This time, five Democrats veered away from party lines to enable the veto to be overridden.