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Posts tagged "constitutional rights"

SCOTUS: Can prosecutors withhold evidence before guilty pleas?

In 1963, the U.S. Supreme Court held in Brady v. Maryland that police and prosecutors are legally bound to turn over so-called "exculpatory" evidence to the defense before trial. Exculpatory evidence is most anything favorable to the defense. It can be evidence that the defendant is innocent, that someone else could be guilty, or that there were mitigating circumstances. Or, it can cast doubt on the reliability of prosecution witnesses.

Vermont high court case a landmark civil rights victory

In 2014, an African-American man named Gregory Zullo was pulled over in Vermont after an officer noticed his license tab was partly obscured by snow. At the traffic stop, the officer also noticed a bottle of Visine, an air freshener and a faint smell of marijuana, which has been decriminalized in Vermont. Zullo admitted having smoked marijuana three days' before.

Supreme Court: 'Excessive fines' prohibition may apply to states

The Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads, "excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted." An Indiana man is testing the excessive fines rule by appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court. The problem? The high court has never held that the "excessive fines" clause applies to the states.

Could a parking violation put you at risk for arrest?

Imagine you're out on a freezing January evening in Milwaukee. You stop at a liquor store, momentarily parking your car while you run inside. Unfortunately, you park less than 15 feet from an unmarked crosswalk.

Federal court: Searches at the border must still be reasonable

In 2015, Abdisalam Wilwal, Sagal Abdigani, and their four young children were heading home after visiting Canadian relatives when they stopped at the Portal, North Dakota, border station. They are both U.S. citizens and married. Shortly after handing over their papers, they were confronted by armed and aggressive Customs and Border Protection officers. Mr. Wilwal was handcuffed in front of his frightened, crying children.

How can we know how accurate DNA testing devices really are?

The basic science behind DNA testing is sound enough. Each individual has DNA that varies as much as one person varies from another. With the right technology, we should be able to compare a DNA sample found at a crime scene with one taken from a suspect.

Can data from your Amazon Alexa be used against you in court?

An estimated eight million people use Amazon's Alexa, the virtual assistant that can make lists, set timers, dial phone calls and even tell jokes. Depending on your setup, it can turn off your lights, set your home security system, and turn on and tune your TV. She recognizes different voices and can key various activities and lists to individuals based on their voices. She can keep track of most everything you're up to, and she's always listening.

'Serial' podcast defendant gets new trial for ineffective counsel

Adnan Syed, the defendant profiled in Season 1 the popular podcast "Serial," has been granted a new trial. A Maryland court of appeals has ruled that Syed received constitutionally ineffective assistance from his trial counsel 18 years ago, and that ineffective assistance probably affected the outcome of his trial.

Is it too cruel to execute people who are old or sick?

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal on behalf of a 67-year-old Alabama death row inmate. After suffering at least two serious strokes, Vernon Madison has dementia. His speech is slurred and he says things that don't make sense. He is also blind now, and incontinent. He doesn't remember how to use the toilet in his cell. He can only say the alphabet to the letter G. He can't remember committing the crime for which he was sentenced to death.

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