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Post-Conviction Defense and Appeals
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Prosecutors Endorse Pell Grants for Prisoners

On Thursday, the nation’s largest organization for prosecutors endorsed an idea we touched on a few weeks ago. Let people in prison apply for federal grants toward higher education. Don’t cut them off completely. In the press release, the National District Attorney Association backs a federal bill that would restore eligibility for Pell grants to prisoners Read More

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A Feel-Good Story From Our Backyard

Earlier this month, a group of law students from the University of California, Irvine did something special: they won the release of an elderly inmate based on the law of compassionate release. That is not easy to do. Before a recent new law, it was nearly impossible, and even now, it’s exceedingly rare. But the man Read More

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Giving the Gift of Education

How’s this for an idea? Let’s reinstate Pell grants for people in prison. What are those? They are federal grants that help people pay for college who otherwise can’t. They require you to use the money for higher education and maintain satisfactory progress toward a degree. People in prison were eligible for them until 1994 but Read More

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Failing to Point Out the Other Side’s Fail

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court answered a notable question in the world of employment litigation. Does it matter that an employee failed to follow the “right-to-sue” process before suing for discrimination, if the employer never complains? The answer: No. What if the employer does complain but takes its sweet time doing so? The answer: Still Read More

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California’s Cannabis Control Appeals Panel

We end our series on the state’s pot regulations with a look at the administrative panel that will hear appeals from adverse licensing decisions. There, you’re entitled to a fair and impartial review of whether your regulator treated you right; whether its decision was supported by its findings; and whether its findings were supported by substantial evidence in Read More

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The Right to Counsel in the 21st Century

As we touched on last week, the Sixth Amendment protects not just a right to counsel but a right to the effective assistance of counsel. In the 21st century, this means at least three things. First, the government can’t take away your life or liberty without a legal defense. Second, if you can’t afford a lawyer, the Read More

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When in Doubt, File the Appeal

Last week it was the Eighth Amendment; this week, it’s the Sixth. The Sixth Amendment says, “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to … have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.” On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court said the right to counsel means you decide whether to appeal, not your lawyer. If Read More

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The Eighth Amendment Applies to the States in Full

The Eighth Amendment consists of one sentence: “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” Until Wednesday, it wasn’t clear if the part about excessive fines applied to the individual states. In fact, you may not know this, but the entire Bill of Rights applied only to Read More

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New California Criminal Laws: Part Quatre

Here’s our fourth and final installment of notable new laws. Employers can’t ask about or investigate a conviction that’s been sealed or dismissed unless it’s specific to the job you applied for. This is Senate Bill 1412. Generally speaking, California employers can’t ask about or run checks for convictions that have been sealed, dismissed, or expunged. One Read More

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New California Criminal Laws: Part Deux

Here are three more new laws for this week. The public has greater access to police personnel files. This is Senate Bill 1421. It declares that the public has an important interest in law-enforcement transparency because it is essential to having a just and democratic society. It then amends the Penal Code to confer more access Read More

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