According to a 1986 U.S. Supreme Court decision called Batson v. Kentucky, it violates the Equal Protection Clause for prosecutors to intentionally exclude potential jury members because of race. When the defense suspects the prosecutor is excluding jurors based on race, they can issue what is called a "Batson challenge."
One of the biggest problems facing criminal defendants may be the use of bad expert testimony. Courts are supposed to be gatekeepers for scientific claims. They're supposed to exclude any technical or scientific evidence that isn't "the product of reliable principles and methods" or that isn't supported by the majority of scientists in the given field.
America's main anti-hacking law is the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), which makes it illegal to "access a computer without authorization or exceed authorized access."
It's easy for law enforcement to overreach their powers in their efforts to stop crime. As the police use ever-more-intrusive methods for tracking people, they often raise the argument that the innocent people caught up in their dragnets have nothing to fear.
Although we're not from New York City, we can agree that there is probably too much public lewdness and unwanted touching going on in the city's subways. Earlier this month, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a plan to clean up public transit: banning "repeat and high-risk sexual offenders" from buses, trains and subways for three years.
It's a travesty when people are stuck behind bars for months or even years before they have even been convicted of a crime. However, there are sometimes good reasons to deny a person bail, such as when they are an obvious flight risk or a clear danger to the community.
"I think we can safely say that bite mark evidence is just junk," says Michael Semanchik of the California Innocence Project. He speaks with some authority, as he has worked for many years on the exoneration of Bill Richards, who was falsely convicted of his wife's 1993 murder.
Plea bargaining is a bedrock of our criminal justice system. Governments simply don't have the money to take every criminal defendant to trial. They rely on the fact that a large proportion of defendants will opt for a plea deal if it means less prison time.
To many, sex offender registries seem like a good way to prevent people from committing repeat sex offenses, thereby keeping the public safer.
Scientifically, it's a pipe dream. It would be convenient if we could train law enforcement officers on how to tell if people are lying, but so far there is no way to do so. That doesn't stop people from trying, though.