Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Rising Courthouse Violence

When a person considers the safety that they are afforded at a courthouse, they think that it is relatively secure because there are several armed police officers present at all times.  At the same time, it is difficult to ignore that going to a courthouse might be risky business by the mere fact of what occurs in a courthouse on a day-to-day basis.  It does not matter whether the case deals with traffic violations or family-law disputes, many times a judge or jury can have lasting effects on a person’s life.  It is no surprise that emotions run high regardless of what side of the issue you are advocating for.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Guilty But Innocent

In November 1992, seventeen year old Daniel Taylor was awaken out of his sleep by police and brought to the police station for questioning.  Almost three and a half hours later Daniel Taylor confessed to a double murder.  The problem here is that Daniel had an alibi, one that was later confirmed by the Assistant State Attorney.  Daniel was locked up in a jail cell on the night of the murders making it impossible for him to have committed this crime.  Yet, he was still tried and convicted.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Change is Gonna Come: Continuing Reforms in Juvenile Justice Laws

Recently, lawmakers in Georgia have decided a change is needed in their juvenile justice laws.  After Georgia’s legislature passed a series of reforms in March 2012 that revised sentencing laws for non-violent drug and property offenders,[1] lawmakers have turned their attention to fixing Georgia’s increasingly expensive juvenile system.  Will these proposed changes represent a sincere shift in how states adjudicate young offenders, or, will they simply be a temporary stopgap in how Georgia handles the offenses of its youngest offenders and budgetary constraints?

Friday, February 15, 2013

Human-Sex-Trafficking at the Super Bowl

The Super Bowl is the most watched sporting event in the world.  The commercial airtime during the Super Bowl broadcast is the most expensive of the year and the most popular singers and musicians have performed during the half time show in the past. However, the Super Bowl does not only attract its fans and viewers but also traffickers. The Super Bowl is known as “the single largest human trafficking incident in the United States,” as Attorney General Greg Abbott told USA Today in 2011.[1] According to Forbes, 10,000 prostitutes were brought to Miami for the Super Bowl in 2010 and 133 underage arrests for prostitution were made in Dallas during the 2011 Super Bowl.[2] This year was no exception. A multi-agency task force arrested 85 people during the week leading up to the Super Bowl XLVII held on February 3, 2013 in New Orleans. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Eye in the Sky: Domestic Aerial Drone Surveillance and the Fourth Amendment

The watchful eye of the American public has recently placed the Obama administration’s drone program in its sights.  The release of the Justice Department’s plan for targeted drone strikes on American citizens allegedly working for al-Qaeda has garnered considerable attention.  The staggering development of drone technology has dramatically increased the administration’s capabilities to execute strikes on specific targets abroad.  However, while the focus of most Americans is on drone surveillance and deadly strikes in distant countries, U.S. law enforcement agencies have been quietly expanding the use of drones for domestic surveillance. 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Identity Theft: Can the Government Take DNA Material Without a Warrant?

There have been 302 total DNA exonerations in the United States since the first one took place in 1989.  Since 2000, there have been 289 post-conviction exonerations. DNA evidence is one area of criminal law that is always in the news.  Last week, on January 29, 2013, a former Ohio police captain was released from prison after fifteen years, when new DNA tests proved he was innocent of his wife’s 1997 murder.[1]  The Governor of New York recently announced that he is expanding the state’s DNA database.[2]  DNA evidence is becoming one of the most useful tools for criminal law, but at the same time has some controversy around it.  While there are wonderful benefits to DNA testing and having a DNA database, there are serious concerns with the collection practices of the government.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

California: Finding a Balance Between Overcrowded Prisons and Prison Sentences

Since the 1980s, the United States has seen the prison population double.  While the United States has less than five percent of the world’s population, it has about a quarter of the world’s prisoners. [1] There are several reasons for this drastic increase, including excessive prison sentencing and imprisonment for minor crimes such as writing bad checks.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Retroactively Outlawing the Twinkie Defense

The “Twinkie defense” refers to a diminished capacity defense, in which a criminal defendant argues that he did not have the requisite state of mind at the time of his crime to be held accountable because of some mental defect or abnormality.  This defense was made famous in 1979, when an official in San Francisco entered the city hall and murdered both the mayor and another city official.[1]  In that case, the defendant claimed a mental defect that caused a depression to form and manifest in an inability to resist eating junk food.[2]