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NY Places Drastic Limits on Packages and Books to the Incarcerated

Beginning in January 2018, people at Greene, Green Haven and Taconic Correctional Facilities in NY will no longer be able to receive packages directly from family members or friends. All packages must be ordered through an approved vendor. Its currently a pilot project but in September 2018, this policy will apply to ALL 54 prisons […]

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Constitutional Law Criminal Law

Pennsylvania Federal Judge Rules 37 Years of Solitary Confinement are Unconstitutional; State Settles Lawsuit

Arthur Johnson was 18 years old when he was convicted of murder following a street fight that occurred in 1970. He was sentenced to life without parole and committed to the custody of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections. He was a troubled inmate in his early years of incarceration, taking part in two violent escape […]

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Constitutional Law Criminal Law

Judge Texts with Prosecutor Over Strategy on Trial: Same Old Song with New Twist

Suffolk County, NY judge Janine Barbera Dalli sent text messages to Suffolk County prosecutors this week, guiding them on how to charge and try a case against a defendant, in clear violation of judicial ethics that bar judges from communicating privately with one side in a case. To their credit, prosecutors immediately disclosed the texts […]

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Constitutional Law Criminal Law

Prosecutor Overreach and Actual Facts Led to Kate Steinle Case Acquittal

Some cases take on a bigger life. Some cases get caught up in a political firestorm. Sacco and Vanzetti, The Scopes trial, The Rosenbergs, Willie Horton, Rodney King to name a few. They end up being not about what actually happened but about some larger societal issue that is reflected in the case. Anarchists, Evolution, […]

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Constitutional Law Criminal Law

Judge falls asleep during murder trial. Illinois Appeals Ct says “So what?”

Illinois Judge Jeffrey O’Connor took a short nap during the presentation of evidence in the murder trial of Nicholas Sheley, charged with a notorious killing spree. At the 2014, trial, the lights were dimmed so the jury could watch security camera footage on a monitor. When the presentation ended, an assistant attorney general asked that […]

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Constitutional Law Criminal Law

La. Court Rules Asking for “Lawyer, Dog” Too Ambiguous to Trigger Right to Counsel

File this article under “You Can’t Make This Up” or “The Constitution is Overrated.” Warren Demesme is awaiting trial on charges of first-degree rape and indecent behavior with a victim under the age 13. He sought to suppress a purportedly incriminating statement made to the New Orleans Police Department sex crimes detective Nijel Baddoo (his […]

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Criminal Law

Conn. Appoints Lawyers for Dogs and Cats – Sorry, Its a Bad Idea in My Book

Last year, Connecticut enacted “Desmond’s Law” a law that made it the first state to allow judges to appoint lawyers and law students as advocates for dogs and cats in cases of cruelty, abuse and neglect. Similar roles have been established in courts at the county level, and Rhode Island enacted a law in 2012 […]

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Constitutional Law Criminal Law

A Bad Idea Sometimes Comes From a Good Place: Illinois Erases Statute of Limitations on Child Abuse Cases

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed legislation that completely removes the statute of limitation for crimes involving sexual abuse of minors. Sex abuse victims are calling the new law a great step forward. They say pursuing justice criminally will help with the closure process.Survivors of abuse say eliminating the statutes of limitations will give them the […]

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Constitutional Law Criminal Law

Recent Philly Exoneration Case Reads Like Textbook on Wrongful Conviction

Shaurn Thomas’ conviction for murder was overturned this week after he served 24 years in jail after Philadelphia prosecutors asked a court to vacate the conviction in the interests of justice. as I was reading about the case in the article in today’s NY Times I was struck by how the case mirrors so many […]