Goodbye 4th Amendment (Oh we can just subpoena that instead of getting a warrant…)

Normally law enforcement conducts its investigations through warrants, which are needed to conduct searches or seizures.  Warrants require probable cause–which is specific facts that make it reasonable to believe that a specific person is involved in a specific crime.  Warrant-less searches (with exceptions that take up an entire semester of constitutional criminal procedure) are inadmissible.… Read More

Don’t Be Gullible (please!)

Much of the time that attorneys and law students read cases, they focus on gleaning the law. Sometimes the facts are so absurd—they stand on their own. When I first read this case 1) I couldn’t believe “Dr. Stevens” was so brazen; 2) I couldn’t believe the victim was so gullible; 3) I couldn’t believe there were previous victims; 4) I couldn’t believe there were subsequent victims of this same scheme; 5) I couldn’t believe this wasn’t rape (at the time).… Read More

The (quiet) radical shift in sentencing over the last thirty years: no death penalty for juveniles, but a life sentence for stealing golf clubs is okay

The media is a fickle thing. We talk about Amanda Knox, Casey Anthony, Michael Jackson’s doctor, and just about anything other trial that is sensational. Anyone heard of Graham v. Florida? Atkins v. Virginia? Didn’t think so. On the first day of the 2011-2 term for the Supreme Court I thought I would discuss the revolutionary changes in criminal punishment from the last thirty years that have been swept under the rug.… Read More

Mass incarceration, inevitable bias, and supreme court staying executions, oh my!

In 1970, 200,000 people were incarcerated in the United States.  That represented .09% of the US population. In 2011, 2,300,000 people are incarcerated in the US.  That represents .73% of the US population. Since 1970, the incarcerated population has grown 11.5 times (1150%) and the per capita incarceration rate has grown 818%.… Read More