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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

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 […]

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Constitutional Law Entertainment Law

Tribeca Film Institute Brings Film Class to NY State Prison

I was asked to be a speaker yesterday at the Tribeca Film Institute’s Community Screening Program at Otisville Correctional Institute. The program brings a series of films into the NY State medium-security facility in Orange County, NY and then has a group of incarcerated facilitators lead a discussion among the participants about the film. Its […]

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Criminal Law

Attempted Murder of a Mannequin? Only in Vegas!

Can you be found guilty of attempted murder if the victim is a mannequin? A Nevada judge will soon have to decide this question in the case of Shane Allen Schindler. Schindler is accused of using a hammer to attack and repeatedly hit a mannequin laying under a blanket on a Las Vegas street. At […]

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Constitutional Law Criminal Law

SCOTUS Changes Face of Criminal Trials With New Decision About Jurors and Race

The Supreme Court threw open the normally tightly-sealed doors of the jury room in overturning the conviction of Miguel Pena-Rodriguez in the case of Pena-Rodriguez v. Colorado. In a 5-3 decision written by Justice Kennedy, the Court ruled that a juror’s racial basis in the jury room – which was only revealed to the public […]

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Constitutional Law Criminal Law

New Deportation Rules Could Lead to More Criminal Trials

The Trump administration announced earlier this week new directives on deportation of undocumented immigrants, unleashing the full force and fury of the Federal government to find, arrest and deport aliens who have been convicted of all levels of crime. While the Obama administration has deported more undocumented immigrants than previous administrations, it has only deported […]

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Constitutional Law

Top Six Things the Public Should Take Away From HBO’s “The Night Of”

HBO’s excellent short series “the Night Of” concluded last night. If you haven’t seen it all I warn you that this post may contain spoilers. Lots of my friends in the legal community are complaining about many inaccuracies in the way trial, prosecutors and criminal defense were portrayed. My answer to them has generally been […]