Promoting Family Values in Sentencing. The Vera Institute has put out a new report on that topic, Setting an Agenda for Family-Focused Justice Reform. Aside from calling for reform, the paper cites findings that may be of more immediate use in your sentencing arguments.
The Hitches with Snitches. Via Natapoff comes this report by NYU Law School's Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, criticizing the government's use of informants in domestic terrorism cases. The paper concludes with a set of policy recommendations.
Need To Get That Checked. At a talk near his hometown in Georgia, Justice Thomas told the audience that he and his colleagues on the Court work hard "as a team" to deal with the difficult issues confronting them. He also came down hard on the Court's critics, many of whom he said apparently suffer from "a disease of illiteracy or laziness."
The Curious Story of "A Reasonable Degree of Professional Certainty." Mark Worthen recounts the history of the phrase over at In the News, with some practice tips from a forensic science perspective.
You're Fired. "As knowledge about fire grows, uncertainty about the origin of fires has increased and the number of fires declared intentional has plummeted," according to this report in the Wisconsin State Journal.
Top of the Ninth - 9th Cir. decisions released during the week.
· Leavitt v. Arave (habeas) (counsel's failure to gather additional mental health evidence for second sentencing hearing was reasonable strategic decision).
Short Circuits, Solid States, and other persuasive authority.
· U.S. v. D'Andrea (1st Cir.) (district court abused its discretion in denying motion to suppress without hearing on whether government exceeded scope of private search).
· U.S. v. West (3d Cir.) (mere presence of firearm not sufficient for § 2K2.1(b)(6) enhancement).
· U.S. v. Cardenas-Guillen (5th Cir.) (district judge improperly barred public and press from courtroom without affording opportunity to challenge ruling).
· U.S. v. Harrison (10th Cir.) (defendant's "consent" for search of apartment based on officers' deceptive claim that they were looking for a bomb in the house was not voluntary).
· U.S. v. Vigil (10th Cir.) (§ 2B1.1(b)(4) did not apply to defendant found with stolen IDs and checks because there was no evidence he had sold or was going to sell any stolen items) (imposition of fine because restitution was limited by plea agreement, and without assessing defendant's ability to pay, was error).
· Ferrell v. Hall (11th Cir.) (habeas) (reversing state court's rejection of IAC, where trial counsel failed to investigate and present evidence of disabling mental disorders and childhood abuse).
· U.S. v. C.R. (E.D.N.Y.) (Judge Weinstein's final order, holding that Eighth Amendment prohibits 5-year mandatory minimum term for young child pornography offender).
· U.S. v. Jones (E.D. Pa.) (warrant affidavit averring defendant possessed firearms illegally, without specifying how or why, did not show probable cause).
· In re J.F. (D.C. App.) (defendant's encounter on deserted street with police whose weapons, vests and badges were visible in which police asked multiple questions and ordered defendant to remove hands from pockets was seizure).
· U.S. v. Saenz, No. 7:05-00877 (S.D. Tex.) (imposing below-guideline straight probation in child pornography case) (via Berman).
· U.S. v. Cederberg, No. 1:10-00144 (D. Mont.) (sentencing defendant who hosted serial cocaine parties to straight probation plus $500,000 fine) (via Berman).
The Week in Sausage Making. Measures introduced include S. 1011 (would modify provisions related to privacy of electronic communications); S. 1022, 1038 (would extend certain terrorism-related provisions); H.R. 1913 (to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in the criminal justice system); H.R. 1923 (to prohibit public officials' undisclosed self-dealing).
For the Bookworms - New books and scholarly articles of note.
· "Speaking in Sentences," Hon. D. Brock Hornby, 14 Green Bag 2d 147 (2011) (one judge's guidance on "what should and should not be said" by whom at sentencing).
· "Effects of the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act on Crime," Scott Baker, working paper (2011) (SSRN) (analyzes drop in crime rates after passage, finds 80,000-320,000-crime decrease each year attributable to legalization).
· "The Rise and Fall of the Miranda Warnings in Popular Culture," Ronald L. Steiner et al., Cleveland St. L. Rev. ___ (2011) (SSRN) (sets out stats drawn from several iconic cop shows in the wake of Miranda [ed.: might be of use in comparatively assessing average contemporary defendant's expected understanding of Fifth Amendment rights]).
· The Rights of the People: How Our Search for Safety Invades Our Liberties, David K. Shipler, Knopf (2011) (Amazon).
Suggestions or corrections? Email Michael_Drake@fd.org.