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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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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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Throwing Pitches in a Civil Case

Make that Pitchess with an extra s—as in Pitchess motions. In California, they’re how you ask a court to order the production of a police officer’s personnel file in litigation. We’ve written about them in the context of criminal cases, but the procedure’s the same in civil cases, as a court of appeal recently explained in an employment case. A 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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Lies, Damned Lies, and Sex Crimes

If you thought the case from last week was bad, here’s another one that’s worse. This time, the supposed victim hasn’t stepped forward to admit she lied, so the man she accused of child molestation sits in prison, as he has for seventeen years, and the system seems powerless to stop it. What happened? The jury never saw medical records Read More

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California Prosecutor to Pursue Perjury Cases More Aggressively

Speaking of district attorneys’ doing creative things, here’s another one. The district attorney from Lake County, California has created a perjury-investigations unit to prosecute what he views as rampant, unchecked perjury in the courtroom. And he’s not wrong about that. Just ask a divorce lawyer about the vicious lies that people will tell in court when it suits them. It’s Read More

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A House of Cards

That’s how the U.S. Supreme Court described the evidence in a murder case that it reversed last week because the prosecution had wrongly concealed other important evidence from the defense and jury. Factor in that other evidence, the Court held, and the house begins to crumble. How so? There was no physical evidence tying the defendant to the murder, only the 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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One Way to the Gallows

To appreciate due process, consider the story of a simple man named George Spencer who was accused, of all things, of impregnating a pig in puritan New England. His story takes place in 1642, and it’s excerpted from the book, The Case of the Piglet’s Paternity: Trials from New Haven Colony, 1639-1663, by Jon C. Blue, a Superior Read More

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California Supreme Court Revisits the Law of Access to Police Personnel Files

Police officers are human beings who are capable of making mistakes or behaving badly, just like anyone else, and if they testify in a criminal case, their credibility is always at issue, just like any other witness. So what do you do if you believe that an officer previously lied, behaved violently, used excessive force, or otherwise acted in ways that Read More

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