Friday, April 19, 2013

Can Silence = Guilt in Pre-Arrest, Pre-Miranda Questioning?

On Wednesday April 17th, 2012 the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case Salinas v. Texas.[1]  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. 

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[1] that he has ordered the Pentagon to prepare legislation to Congress that would change Article 60 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).[2]  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

An Analysis of the Counterfeiting Problem

On March 28, 2013, Suffolk County officials busted five suspects of an international counterfeiting ring.[1]  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.[2]  Every imported item, manufactured in China, was a counterfeit.  All five suspects have been indicted on conspiracy and trademark counterfeiting charges.[3]  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

Cell Phone Tracking: “Hello… is this Uncle Sam?”

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.[1]  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.[2]

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Dog Sniff at Home Declared a 4th Amendment Search

On March 26, 2013, the Supreme Court decided Florida v. Jardines, affirming the Florida Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision that a 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.[1]  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.[2]  The decision in that case was unanimous.

Special Coverage: Should Marriage be Sex-blind?

 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.[1]  Clearly, this shows the historic prominence of these two cases.