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Man Gets Indicted By His Pacemaker

Actually, the case was indicted by a grand jury in Ohio, which charged him with arson and insurance fraud. Apparently, the man called 911 as his home burned in the background. He said he was sleeping when the fire started and that, in a hurry, he packed a bunch of bags, broke a window with his cane, threw the Read More

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If At First You Don’t Succeed

Here’s that DUI case we alluded to last week. It’s based on a driver’s challenge to his license suspension after his arrest. His post-arrest blood test showed a blood-alcohol concentration (or BAC) of 0.23 percent. He challenged this finding at the DMV’s administrative hearing and lost. He then petitioned the superior court to overturn that finding and lost Read More

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The Age of Innocents

Ten times a month. That’s how often an innocent person is freed from prison in our country, according to this 60 Minutes segment that aired Sunday night. And those are just the ones we know about. I suspect the number comes from the National Registry of Exonerations, which recorded 125 exonerations in the year 2014. That year set a new record for Read More

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The Surprisingly Imperfect Science of DNA Testing

That’s the title of this in-depth look at DNA testing through the lens of one cold murder case. Although DNA evidence is widely regarded as the gold standard of forensic science, we should be careful about checking our brains at the courtroom door just because the government exclaims, DNA! The science works well when we can test an ample, Read More

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FBI Acknowledges Rampant Errors in Microscopic Hair Analysis

On Monday, the FBI and the Justice Department announced the first results of a large-scale project called the Microscopic Hair Comparison Analysis Review, and they weren’t good. Here’s how the Washington Post broke the story: “The Justice Department and FBI have formally acknowledged that nearly every examiner in an elite FBI forensic unit gave flawed testimony in Read More

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Mother of Five Gets New Trial on Capital Murder Conviction

Have you heard of Hannah Overton? She’s spent the last seven years serving a sentence of life without the possibility of parole for the murder of her four-year-old, then-soon-to-be-adopted son. But this September, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which is that state’s supreme court for criminal cases, reversed her conviction and sent it back Read More

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Trombetta-Youngblood and the Problem of Bad Faith

As we noted last week, a court may dismiss your criminal case if the government destroyed or failed to preserve evidence that was potentially favorable to your defense. If you make that argument, however, the court will engage in a two-step analysis, the first step of which will ask how favorable or exculpatory the lost evidence was (or could have been). If the evidence had exculpatory Read More

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A National Consensus: Cell-Phone Location Records are Private

That’s according to this summary of the emerging law in states and federal courts across the country regarding your phone’s cell-site location data. Those are the logs and records of the cell towers that your phone is constantly connecting or attempting to connect to as you go about your business. Your phone has to do that in order to be able to make or receive calls Read More

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The Police Cannot Search Your Cell Phone Merely On Arrest

It is so ordered, they said. “Our answer to the question of what police must do before searching a cell phone seized incident to an arrest is … simple—get a warrant.” As many have now heard, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously on Wednesday that police may not search the digital contents of the minicomputers and life-storage Read More

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U.S. Justice Department to Record Custodial Interrogations Under New Policy

Ain’t it better for everyone this way? For years, the resistance to it has rung more and more hollow. Finally, on May 12, the Justice Department established a new policy that favors the electronic recording of all interviews taken with a suspect in custody, and which encourages agents and prosecutors to tape outside that context as well. The policy establishes a presumption that investigating agencies Read More

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