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The Microsoft-Ireland Case is Moot

We covered this before here and here. But the high-profile case of United States v. Microsoft Corporation is now over. The question was whether the government could force Microsoft to turn over data that it stored on servers in other countries. The problem was that federal law didn’t allow the government to do that, or at least Read More

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The End of Absolute Immunity for Prosecutors

Another outstanding feature by The Marshall Project. It’s written by a senior federal trial judge in New York. For 23 years, he’s sentenced the likes of murderers, rapists, gangsters, and fraudsters—some to prison for the rest of their lives. But he says it’s time to put an end to absolute immunity for prosecutors. Absolute immunity is what Read More

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When You Walk a Mile in Their Shoes

You may never serve on a jury, but suppose you did. How would you feel—how would any of us feel—if we voted to convict someone innocent? This person knows. In 2009, she voted to convict a 17-year-old boy for murder based on the testimony of one eyewitness. The witness and victim were friends, and they were Read More

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New California Criminal Laws: Part Deux

To conclude the series, here’s the fab five we promised last week. Kids age 15 or younger must talk to a lawyer before the police interrogate them. This is Senate Bill 395. It amended the Welfare and Institutions Code to require that kids consult a lawyer before they waive their Miranda rights. They can do the Read More

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They May Be Intelligent, But Are They Wise?

Speaking of fair shakes, here is a wise word of caution about the emerging, expanding use of computer programs to evaluate people in the justice system, whether at bail hearings, sentencings, or elsewhere. The author is a former software engineer at Facebook who’s now studying law at Harvard. Her point isn’t that we shouldn’t use or consult these programs, but Read More

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California’s New Sex-Offender Registry

Big news out of California last week. Beginning in 2021, the state will replace its current sex-offender registry, which requires everyone to register for life, with a three-tiered system that distinguishes among low-risk, medium-risk, and high-risk offenders. People in the first tier will be able to petition to end their registration after ten years. You’re in this tier Read More

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Impaneling a Jury of Your Peers

Do you have a civil or criminal case that’s heading to trial? Starting next year, California will have new rules for picking a jury in both types of cases. First, the rules for criminal cases. This is Assembly Bill 1541. It brings jury selection in criminal trials more in line with the procedure for civil trials. The process will still Read More

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Two Sides of the Same Coin

It’s not always easy to weigh the scales of justice. Sometimes, like in the two stories from last week, the system treats people too harshly, and it ruins their lives. Other times, though, someone’s unfairly blamed for not being harsh enough. That’s the premise of this piece by a former chief criminal judge who was vilified for setting someone free without Read More

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Hidden Bias and Fair Trials

You may serve on a jury one day, and if you do, your thought process will mean a lot to the people involved. Those people, and the system as a whole, will rely on you to give them a fair trial. To that end, one court has created a video to help potential jurors understand their hidden biases. These Read More

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A Model Penal Code for the 21st Century

Charging decisions, which we wrote about last week, matter for many reasons. They drive plea bargains, and they affect sentencing. You file a felony, for example, so that the guy will plead to a misdemeanor without giving you much trouble. It happens all the time. Bad charging decisions, though, don’t just cause wrongful convictions or unjust sentences. They cause other consequences that Read More

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