Friday, August 29, 2014

Weakening the Shield: Maryland Reforming Sex Offender Registry Laws for the Worse?

The sex offender registry has long been a system relied upon by the government to keep track of the residence and activities of sex offenders, including ones who have completed their court-ordered sentences.  It is also a shield designed to protect the public; however, the shield could soon be weakened when at least 1,200 names disappear from the State of Maryland’s registry.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Judicial Economy Overstepping? Maryland's Lack of Recognition of Antagonistic Defenses

File:L'inégalité.JPGIt is embedded in our judicial system within the Fifth and Sixth Amendments of the United States Constitution that a person in a criminal proceeding is entitled to have a fair trial with all of his or her due process protections.  Stemming from these constitutional provisions, Maryland recognizes in Sessoms v. State the right to “ensure that an accused gets a fair trial free from undue prejudice.”  Although Sessoms is speaking directly to other crimes’ evidence, that same fairness is applied throughout the criminal justice system.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Soldier Department

In November 2012, the local police department for the small town of Keene, New Hampshire announced the acquisition of a ballistic-engineered armored response counter attack truck, more affectionately called a BearCat, from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).  Meanwhile, local police in the small town of Cary, North Carolina taught a training course entitled Warrior Mindset to its incoming class of officers. In February 2013, a New Haven Police Department Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team used a battering ram through a single familys front door, shooting a flash-bang grenade to temporarily blind the family while it executed a search warrant for drugs.  No drugs were found.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Stand Your Ground: Renisha McBride, Trayvon Martin, and the Law of Self-Defense

Both parties agreed to the facts. On November 2, 2013, at 4:30am in Dearborn Heights, Michigan, Theodore Wafer shot and killed Renisha McBride, an unarmed 19 year-old woman who had been pounding on the front door to his house.  The case was quickly thrust into the public spotlight, spawning coverage from numerous news sources and even its own Wikipedia page.  The ensuing two-week trial ended last Thursday when, after two days of deliberation, the jury returned a guilty verdict, convicting Wafer of second-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter, and a felony firearm-related offense.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

From Click to Clank: Social Media and Criminal Investigations

The gift and curse of technology advancement has made its way into the criminal justice system. In a generation where almost nothing is left private, social media sites have created a new frontier of evidence for criminal investigations.  Justin P. Murphy and Adrian Fontecilla of Crowell & Moring’s Washington, D.C. office took an in-depth look at social media evidence in criminal proceedings.  A Bloomberg Law report that summarizes their larger study and law review article reports some remarkable statistics:  “Social media use in the United States alone has increased by 356 percent since 2006.  Currently, 52 percent of Americans have at least one social media profile, more than one billion people use Facebook actively each month and Twitter has over 140 million active users posting 340 million Tweets a day.”