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California Just Says No to Medical Pot Prosecutions

Last week pit state law against federal law. This week, it’s state law versus local law in the cities or counties. Under state law, there is a defense to criminal prosecution for a medical-marijuana collective or dispensary that is run on a nonprofit basis for people who have state medical-marijuana cards or a physician’s recommendation. 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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To Have the Quid But Not the Quo

As you may know, the U.S. Supreme Court ended its term this year by reversing the bribery conviction of Virginia’s former governor, Bob McDonnell. Suppose the governor of your state met a local businessman while campaigning for office, and the two cultivated a relationship. What would it take for your governor to be guilty of corruption? In Mr. McDonnell’s case, the businessman was the chief Read More

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Public Corruption Meets Semantic Magic

Okay, so there’s a crime called extortion, and there’s also one called conspiracy to commit extortion, but here’s the question. Can the government convict you of both extorting people and conspiring with those same people to extort themselves? In a divided opinion this month, the U.S. Supreme Court said yes. The case involved a police officer who participated in a kickback scheme with Read More

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Criminal Threats in California

Speaking of criminal threats, make no mistake about it: running your mouth can get you arrested for, charged with, and convicted of a felony or misdemeanor, even if you thought you were just ranting or blowing off steam. See Pen. Code § 422. And if it’s a felony, it’s punishable by up to three years in state prison. So what does it take to Read More

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Social Media is not Words with Friends

Speaking of the U.S. Supreme Court, the high court delivered another interesting opinion on Monday, this time in a case that confronted tough questions about the line that separates free speech from criminal threats. The defendant was a 27-year-old man whose wife left him in May 2010, taking their two young children with her. The couple had been married for Read More

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Yippee for Tippees

Earlier this month, in a pivotal decision on how far the government can go to prosecute insider trading, an influential federal court of appeals clarified that the recipient of a juicy corporate tip is not guilty of insider trading for acting on the tip unless he or she knew that it came from an insider who revealed it in return for a personal benefit. The appeal was based 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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Why Are We Punishing This Man?

Here’s a set of facts for you. It appears that an Iowan jury has convicted a 48-year-old man of felony drug charges for growing marijuana that he uses to treat his terminal cancer. It appears the jury was not permitted to hear one word about why the man was growing the marijuana because there was no medical-marijuana law Read More

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Bank Fraud. Even If You’re Not Trying to Defraud a Bank.

Two days before the Supreme Court’s watershed opinion on cell phones, it published another unanimous opinion on a more esoteric topic: bank fraud. Yeah, that’s right, bank fraud. In Loughrin v. United States, the Court held that the federal bank-fraud statute can cover cases in which you intend to defraud someone or something other than a bank. How Read More

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