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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 […]

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Constitutional Law Criminal Law

Of Mice and Men and Death in Texas: SCOTUS to Review Use of “Lennie” Standard in Death Penalty Cases

In 2002, the Supreme Court of the United States in Atkins v. Virginia ruled that executing an intellectually disabled person was a violation of the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution which prohibits “cruel and unusual punishment.” Here’s what Justice John Paul Stevens wrote in his opinion:”Construing and applying the Eighth Amendment in the light of […]

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Constitutional Law Criminal Law

Latest Warrant Decision by SCOTUS Ignores Reality

The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that evidence found by police officers after illegal stops may be used in court if the officers conducted their searches after learning that the defendants had outstanding arrest warrants. Justice Clarence Thomas, writing for the majority in the 5-to-3 decision, said such searches do not violate the Fourth Amendment […]

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Criminal Law

Don’t Criminally Charge “Gorilla Mom”

I get it. The 4 year old who got into the gorilla area at the Cincinnati Zoo had to climb or crawl past a railed fence, walk through some brush and drop 15 feet down into the moat where he encountered Harambe, the male silverback gorilla. It took some work and we all wondered when […]