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A New Day in the City of Brotherly Love

If you haven’t heard, the new district attorney of Philadelphia is a lifelong defense lawyer who used to sue the government for violating people’s civil rights. He even ran on a campaign against overcriminalization. It’s a pretty amazing thing. Now the city’s top prosecutor has put his money where his mouth was during the campaign. 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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New California Criminal Laws in 2018

We’ve already touched on four of them: Recreational pot. A ban-the-box law for employers. An overhauled sex-offender registry beginning in 2021. New rules for picking juries in civil and criminal cases. Here are five more this week, with five more to come next week. Lawyers can advise clients on cannabis. This is Assembly Bill 1159. It amended the Read More

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Medical Board Metes Out Discipline Based on a Police Report

If you’re a doctor or other licensed healthcare professional in California, remember. Your board or agency can discipline you for alleged conduct in a police report even if you’re never charged with or convicted of anything. Just this week, the California Court of Appeal ruled that the medical board could discipline a doctor based on a police Read More

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Two Tears

Two true stories, that is, of people on a sex-offender registry. The first. Today, she’s a 34-year-old mother of two great kids. Back then, she was a teenager herself when she slept with a boy on the night of her 19th birthday party. The boy was mature enough to pursue her but, as it happened, he was 14. His 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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The New DOJ Policy on Charging Decisions

Two weeks ago, the new U.S. Attorney General announced a new policy for charging and sentencing in criminal cases. Although the policy targets drug cases in particular, it applies to all federal prosecutions. You can break it down into three parts. First, prosecutors should file the “most serious, readily-provable” charges in each case. The most serious Read More

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New California Criminal Laws in 2017

Let’s get right to it. We already covered three of them in prior posts. One was Proposition 64, which legalized recreational marijuana. Another was Proposition 57, which expanded parole eligibility for nonviolent felons and cut back on prosecuting kids as adults. A third was Assembly Bill 1909, which made it a felony for prosecutors to commit Brady violations in bad Read More

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When It Rains, It Pours

Here’s another case that blurs the line between civil and criminal laws. It started as a civil dispute between a homeowner and contractor. The homeowner hired the contractor to paint her house and install ten windows. Six months later, he had painted her house and installed eight-and-a-half windows, but no one was happy. He wanted $8,000 more to finish the work, Read More

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An Unfunded Mandate from Above

In Gideon, the United States Supreme Court observed that “lawyers in criminal courts are necessities, not luxuries.” But fifty years later, we continue to fall short of the full promise of the Sixth Amendment, and the struggle is real. National standards recommend that public defenders handle no more than 150 felony cases, 400 misdemeanor cases, or 200 juvenile Read More

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