News

Compensating the Exonerated: State Laws Are Arbitrary and Senseless

October 2nd of each year marks the Annual International Wrongful Conviction Day. As of October 2, 2017, the third anniversary of the commemorative event, 351 people have been exonerated based on DNA analysis alone. Those 351 served an aggregate 4,788 years in prison prior to exoneration. DNA exonerations are just the tip of the iceberg;

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Colorado Supreme Court: Criminal Defendant Seeking to Fire Paid, Retained Counsel for Court-Appointed Counsel Need Not Show Good Cause

The Colorado Supreme Court ruled that a criminal defendant may fire retained counsel without any showing of good cause when seeking to replace retained counsel with court-appointed counsel. This is an issue of first impression in Colorado; the Court noted that the U.S. Supreme Court has not answered this precise question. Jesus Ronquillo was charged

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Massachusetts High Court Vacates OUI Conviction for Improper Jury Instruction in Which Judge Told Jury to Disregard the Absence of Any Sobriety Tests

The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts ruled that a defendant accused of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence (“OUI”) has the right to prevent a jury instruction that could cause the jury to speculate about facts not in evidence. Michael Wolfe was arrested and charged with OUI after a Marlborough police officer observed

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Kentucky Supreme Court Clarifies Adoptive Admission Exception to Hearsay Rule

The Kentucky Supreme Court has clarified exactly what the “adoptive admission” exception to the hearsay rule is under Kentucky law and how it applies in a criminal trial. The teachable moment came in a November 2, 2017 decision in which the Court upheld a defendant’s manslaughter conviction. Daniel Lee Moss was involved in an altercation

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What Is the Number One Duty of a Police Officer?

There is an oft-quoted and deeply ingrained sentiment in police circles, one whose logic seems unassailable at first glance: The number one duty of a police officer is to go home to his or her family at the end of the shift. This feels right. Police operate in a dangerous world of unknowns. They are

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South Carolina Supreme Cancels Thousands of Bench Warrants Due to Constitutional Violations

Thousands of arrest warrants have been recalled by county magistrates and municipal judges across the state after South Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Donald Beatty issued new instructions to local magistrates. On September 15, 2017, Beatty issued a memo to summary courts, which include county magistrates and municipal judges, “decrying reported violations of the right

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The Fair Punishment Project Details an “Epidemic of Brady Violations”

The Fair Punishment Project (“FPP”), a criminal justice reform group, released a report in November 2017 detailing an “epidemic” of Brady violations taking place in criminal courts across the country. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), and its progeny that the prosecution is duty-bound to disclose any information

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Secret ATF Slush Fund Dispensed Million

An explosive investigation by The New York Times has revealed the existence of a secret account used by agents at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”) to dispense millions of untraceable private dollars to informants and agents for over seven years. The story reads like something straight out of Hollywood. In 2006,

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