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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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Constitutional Law

Supreme Court Issues First Split Decision Since Scalia’s Death

The Supreme Court today issued its first evenly split ruling since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia: a decision in a minor banking case called Hawkins v. Community Bank of Raymore involving spouses who serve as guarantors for each other’s debts. The spouses claimed that they were forced to sign the guaranties due to their […]

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Constitutional Law

Trump’s Stance on Muslim Immigration Would Very Likely Be Legal

He’s rude; he’s divisive; he’s boorish; he’s bombastic. But under the current state of the law, if Donald Trump became President and he issued a ban on all Muslim immigration, it would likely get upheld by the Supreme Court. If anything, Trump’s statement highlights the importance of making sure everyone votes in the 2016 election […]

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Constitutional Law Criminal Law

Get It Right The First Time- Successful Appeals for Bad Lawyering are Rare

The Supreme Court’s first decision of its new term highlighted the rarity of winning an appeal based on ineffective assistance of counsel. In Maryland v. Kulbicki the Supreme Court overturned Maryland’s highest court in upholding the conviction of a man convicted almost exclusively on faulty scientific evidence. James Kulbicki was found guilty of killing his […]

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Constitutional Law

The Bottom Line on Times Square Topless Women

“Why can’t they do something to stop the naked women in Times Square?” my mother asked me on the phone the other day. “What do you want them to do?” I asked just for kicks. “Lock them up of course – since when was it alright to walk around in the street flapping your boobs […]

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Constitutional Law Criminal Law

SCOTUS Reduces Jay-Z’s Problems to 98 With Decision on Dog-Sniffing Case

It was a busy term for the Supreme Court of the United States with decisions on Obamacare and gay marriage catching all of the attention. But reading the summary of the term this morning I was surprised to see I had missed a case that dealt the right of police officers to extend a traffic […]

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Constitutional Law Criminal Law Litigation

Supreme Court Ducks Main Issue in Internet Threat Case

The Supreme Court yesterday issued a long awaited decision in Elonis v. United States that failed to address the core issues presented by the case involving harsh language posted on the Internet. Under a 1939 federal criminal statute prohibiting the communication of threats, Anthony Elonis was charged with threatening his wife; a kindergarten class; and […]

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Constitutional Law Litigation

Fed Ct.: State Can’t Force Docs to Show Sonograms to Abortion Clients

In a case that will likely head to the Supreme Court, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ( the Federal Appeals Court covering North Carolina) held that  a North Carolina statute that requires physicians to perform an ultrasound, display the sonogram, and describe the fetus to women seeking abortions is unconstitutional as it violates the First Amendment […]