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Calling in the Cavalry

Amid these lockdowns, help is on the way for all stakeholders in California’s criminal-justice system. Are you a defendant whose life sits in limbo while you wait for trial or your next hearing? Are you a victim who’s desperate for closure or restitution? The California Supreme Court has expanded a program that sends retired judges Read More

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The Due Process Protections Act

Last week, Congress passed a new law that sharpens a fundamental rule of fairness in our system: “In all criminal proceedings, on the first scheduled court date when both prosecutor and defense counsel are present, the judge shall issue an oral and written order … that confirms the disclosure obligation of the prosecutor under Brady v. Maryland, Read More

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Forward through the Darkness, Forward into Light

This month marks the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which enshrines these words: “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” That’s kind of a big deal. If you can think of a more Read More

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California Courts Must Tighten Belts Again

The state’s new budget, signed into law on Monday, cuts $200 million from the judiciary. For the fiscal year that begins today, the trial courts have $176.9 million less than last year, and the appeals courts lose $23.1 million. Overall, the budget gives $4 billion to fund the courts out of a total of $202.1 Read More

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Drinking From a Fire Hose

Effective December 1, federal prosecutors and defense lawyers must follow a new rule of procedure that aims to ease the burden of modern discovery. It’s a simple rule with two parts. First, no later than fourteen days after arraignment, the two sides must talk about the evidence in the case and try to agree on how Read More

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Thanksgiving 2019

This year, among other things, I’m grateful to live in a country where one group, party, or faction doesn’t wield a monopoly on power. Where power, in fact, ultimately belongs to no one but the republic itself. I was born in Iran, and for the last two weeks, the government there has waged a vicious Read More

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You Cannot Be Serious

The Fourth Amendment is supposed to protect your right to be secure against “unreasonable searches and seizures.” Those are the actual words of the text, which is why I put them in quotes. But earlier this month, the federal court of appeals that covers California and eight other states could not say whether it violated the Fourth Amendment Read More

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When the Government Goes to Trial

Every now and then, a court will speak to the core of the laws that govern our way of life. Last week, the California Court of Appeal said something profound for the 21st century. Sure, it’s been said before but maybe not in this way, updated for the modern day, spelled out in language we all understand. Read More

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You’ve (Still) Got (Money) Bail

California’s bail system is proceeding along two tracks for now. On one hand, around this time last year, the state passed a law to eliminate money bail. We broke down the new law in detail here, and we weighed its pros and cons here. The law was supposed to go into effect this October, but opponents have since Read More

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The Long Odds in Criminal Cases

They are not for the faint of heart. The fact is very few cases go to trial, and of those that do, most people go down swinging. But according to the latest data, we are seeing even fewer trials than ever. The analysis comes from a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank, and the underlying data comes from Read More

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