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February 2018 Archives

Supreme Court: Guilty plea doesn't bar a constitutional appeal

Rodney C. is an interesting guy. He's a veteran who has a North Carolina concealed-carry permit who wanted to carve out an unusual position for himself in modern law enforcement. He apparently sees himself as a defender of the Constitution -- a "private attorney general" who crisscrosses the nation to enforce constitutional law against judges whom he feels are ignoring it.

AG Sessions opposes bipartisan sentencing reform bill

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has just made his opposition to a bipartisan sentencing reform bill clear. Calling the legislation a "grave error," he said the proposed changes would reduce the sentences of "a highly dangerous cohort of criminals."

Less time for drug crimes cuts criminal justice race disparities

An unfortunate fact about our criminal justice system is that minorities are frequently sentenced to more time for the same crimes as whites. In the U.S., African-Americans, for example, make up 13.3 percent of the population but account for 38 percent of people incarcerated in state prisons, according to federal data.

Some exonerees remain legally guilty due to 'Alford' pleas

When evidence of a convicted person's actual innocence comes forward, we imagine that prosecutors immediately ask a judge to void the conviction and release the defendant. We imagine the judge apologizing on behalf of the state. Later, depending on the circumstances, the defendant might be compensated for the time they spent imprisoned unjustly.

Judge tosses Alford plea of wrongfully convicted man

Demetrius Smith always insisted he was not involved in the 2008 shooting he was convicted of. He never agreed to plead guilty. He entered what is known as an "Alford plea," which is essentially a no contest plea. The defendant maintains his or her innocence while acknowledging the state has a convincing case.

Faulty forensic science contributes to improper convictions

Launched by CBS in 2000, "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" has been called the most successful television series of all time. Between the original series, which ran for five seasons, and spinoffs that include "CSI: Miami," "CSI: NY" and "CSI: Cyber," the TV brand has generated 800 episodes, spawned a number of comic books, video games and novels, and served as the inspiration for a traveling museum exhibit.

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