Missouri v. Frye – Maybe the defense lawyer and not the defendant should go to jail.

Galin Frye was a serial revoked-license driver, with 3 convictions on his rap sheet. Arrested for a 4th time for driving with a revoked license, Frye was charged with a felony carrying a maximum term of 4 years in prison. The prosecutor sent Frye’s lawyer a letter: if Frye pleaded guilty, the charge would be reduced to a misdemeanor and the prosecutor would recommend a 90 day sentence.

Generous as this deal might seem, Frye never had a ...

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It Can Be Tough to be a Juror!

Many people cringe when they get a notice of jury service, anticipating possible disruption to their daily lives. But the perils of jury service can be much greater.

In the California Supreme Court case of People v. Abel (2012), the defendant was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death. One of Abel’s grounds for appeal was a number of allegedly prejudicial comments that the judge made during the trial. For instance, at one point the trial judge ...

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Stephanie Lazarus: Justice Delayed Is Justice

Former LAPD detective Stephanie Lazarus was convicted in March 2012 of the brutal 1986 killing of Sherri Rasmussen, the wife of Lazarus’ former boyfriend. Because of the LAPD’s slothful investigation of Rasmussen’s murder, Lazarus remained at large until 2009, all the while progressing up the LAPD chain of command. Kudos to the officers in LAPD’s “cold case” unit. They reviewed the unsolved murder and realized that spurned girlfriend Lazarus was the likely killer. They shadowed her for ...

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Jeopardy and a Half?

The Double Jeopardy Clause of the US Constitution bars the government from trying a defendant twice for the same crime. So assume that a defendant is charged with first and second degree murder. The jury acquits the defendant of first degree murder, but is “hung” because it can’t agree on whether to convict the defendant of second degree murder. The government can re-try the defendant for second degree murder, but not for first degree murder.

Blueford v. Arkansas ...

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Miranda for Prisoners

Miranda v. Arizona, the 1966 US Supreme Court case that is familiar to anyone who has ever seen a TV cop make an arrest, requires that police officers warn suspects who are “in custody” that they have a right to remain silent and to speak to an attorney. How the Miranda rule should apply to prison inmates, who are after all in custody 24/7, has been a thorn in many judges’ sides.

By a vote of 6-3, the ...

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False Confession Syndrome: No Cure for the Common Confession?

Most of us believe that we’d never confess to a serious crime that we didn’t commit. But quite a few people do. According to the Innocence Project, about 25 % of suspects who have been wrongfully convicted and later exonerated by DNA evidence had confessed to a crime they didn’t commit. Youths and suspects who are mentally impaired (often because of substance abuse) are the most likely to confess falsely. This is especially true when you add ...

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Marriage and Divorce

UNDER WHAT CIRCUMSTANCES CAN CUSTODY AND VISITATION ORDERS BE CHANGED?

After a final decree of divorce or other order establishing custody and visitation is filed with a court, parents may agree to modify the custody or visitation terms. This modified agreement may be made without court approval if consented to by both parents. Courts usually approve modification agreements unless it appears that they are not in the best interests of the child, and if ...

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