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The Trial Penalty

That’s the title of this new report by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. It looks at the steep decline of jury trials in our system, explains why that matters, and examines how to preserve this important right to trial by jury. What is the trial penalty? It refers to the big difference in 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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The New Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court

Now that Neil Gorsuch has been sworn in, we’ll begin to find out how he wields the law as a member of the highest court in the land. Some say he’s a natural successor to the Justice whose seat he fills, Antonin Scalia. Here is a profile of Mr. Gorsuch that compares his views to those of Mr. Scalia Read More

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Do You Care About Justice?

Speaking of lies, there’s no shortage of them in an election year, but if you’re looking for a constructive way to sound off to the presidential candidates, here’s one. The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers has sent each of the four candidates—Clinton, Trump, Johnson, and Stein—a questionnaire with fifteen questions about their views on the criminal-justice system. The NACDL has created Read More

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How to Assert Your Miranda Rights

Here’s a guide to your Miranda rights on the occasion of their 50th anniversary. It’s a rough composite of the current state of the law, but you should always consult a lawyer about your specific situation before consenting to an interview with law enforcement. The first thing to understand is that the police don’t have to give you Miranda warnings Read More

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The 50th Anniversary of Miranda

“The quality of a nation’s civilization can be largely measured by the methods it uses in the enforcement of its criminal law.” This month marks the fiftieth anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s seminal decision in Miranda v. Arizona. To commemorate the occasion, here’s a great write-up on why the case matters so much and how we Read More

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SCOTUS Stands Up for the Sixth Amendment

We’ve asked this question before. What if the government charged you with a crime, and you wanted to defend yourself but couldn’t—not because you didn’t have any money, but because the government had blocked all access to it? Twenty-five years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court said the government can freeze your money before trial if there’s probable 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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The Importance of Public Defense

Many people observed National Public Defense Day on March 18. Yes, there’s a day on the calendar for everything, but this one’s important. It honors the day in 1963 that the Supreme Court decided Gideon v. Wainwright: the case of a poor defendant who believed the Constitution promised him an effective lawyer if he was accused of a crime. The man had just Read More

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A Postscript to Last Week’s Open Letter

Following up on last week’s post, readers should understand the timeline of events that brought the misconduct to light. Here are the highlights. In January 2013, a defendant in a murder case filed a motion to get some important information from the prosecution. The trial court found good cause for the motion and granted it, but the district attorney’s office Read More

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