Category «Criminal Law»

Cameras in the Streets: Focus on Justice

2014 has been a watershed for the national and international role of citizen photo journalists who have impacted in myriad ways events which have in turn sparked debate, protests, and legal action – increasing the scrutiny of activity conducted by groups including law enforcement. Ken Strutin’s timely, informative and significant article collects noteworthy news, litigation, and legal analyses concerning civilians and journalists photo-documenting the activities of law enforcement as well as police use of cameras to record their work.

Subjects: Criminal Law, Free Speech, Internet Trends, Privacy, Social Media

Clients and Suicide: The Lawyer’s Dilemma

Ken Strutin’s article discusses an increasingly visible issue, suicide, here in the specific context of criminal law. He reviews how the stress of prosecution or litigation, whether it means risking a prison term, unemployment, bankruptcy, eviction, broken family relations, isolation, or other serious consequences can create or exacerbate a vulnerable and dangerous state of mind in a client. Client suicidal thoughts, attempts or actions expose the intimacies of human autonomy and test the limits of the attorney-client relationship. They cross a range of legal, moral and medical contexts: professional responsibility, client confidentiality, effective assistance of counsel, legal malpractice, criminal liability, and end of life issues. So it is that attorneys confronted with signs of suicidal intentions in their clients need to be conscious of their legal and ethical responsibilities. Strutin’s article is a significant guide for researchers, as it collects notable materials on this complex and sensitive topic, including ethics opinions, law reviews, bibliographies and other resources.

Subjects: Criminal Law

Case Law in an Era of Heightened Scrutiny

Ken Strutin’s documents the scope of sources that encompass a critical issue that has recently repeatedly surfaced in mass media and the legal press – the fact that judicial decisions are believed to embody legal reasoning, societal values and support the foundations of our legal system. For scholars, lawyers and librarians there are three essential components: decision-making, opinion writing and publication. Recently, scrutiny of Supreme Court opinions and the work habits of the courts in general has been drawing attention to the entirety of judicial work that is at the heart of precedent. This article collects a range of pertinent guides, manuals, treatises, law reviews, studies and newsworthy mentions that address significant issues in judicial decision-making, opinion writing and case law publishing.

Subjects: Criminal Law, Features, Legal Profession, Legal Research, Legal Research Training

Comforting Witnesses, Discomforting Due Process

Many of us are aware of, and have had contact with various types of therapy dogs, in places that range from the workplace to our public transportation systems. But we may not be aware of the growing use and integration into the legal system of therapeutic “comfort dogs” or therapy dogs in several aspects of criminal proceedings, including victim-offender mediation. Ken Strutin lays the groundwork for analysis of how “dog therapy” techniques are well suited to this type of mediation by discussing the psychological dynamics of victim-offender mediation, including how the mediator must confront and deal with them. Of special interest and importance is the changing role of the mediator, who is often called upon to wear different hats. Of importance in this article are the jobs of “therapist” and “magician.” Strutin describes the “therapist” role as it focuses on the therapeutic effect that a dog’s presence will have on victim-offender mediation, namely the psychological benefits for the participants. He explores the “magician” role through a discussion of how the mediator will use the dog’s presence to aid in the process of discussing and resolving conflict, with both parties’ emotional needs receiving equal attention. And finally, Strutin discusses the training required by mediators who wish to employ therapy dogs in their practice. These new “mediator-handlers,” as these types of mediators are known, will have a challenging task in specializing in this type of mediation, but one that can be truly rewarding.” The research and commentary provided here are seminal to understanding how dogs are engaged in increasingly critical roles in the lives of people in many facets of social and legal interaction with critical implications for all involved.

Subjects: Criminal Law, Features, Legal Research

Unwarranted DNA Sampling: The Legacy of Maryland v. King

Criminal law expert Ken Strutin’s article addresses how DNA forensics is about information, privacy and the presumption of innocence. It has become the determinant for identification, solving cold cases and exonerating the innocent. Strutin describes that at its core, it is an inestimable library of personal data. Due to the increasingly important role of Personally identifiable information (PII), courts and legislatures have been attempting to balance the interests of the individual in protecting their genetic information with the usefulness and necessity of that same data for criminal investigation. Strutin notes clearly that any DNA or forensic database is a composite of intertwined informational and legal values that pose competing and conflicting questions about the analytics (accuracy, reliability and validity) of the data and the lawfulness (constitutionality) of its gathering. His article collects recent notable decisions and scholarship appearing in the aftermath of Maryland v. King.

Subjects: Criminal Law, Data Mining, Features, Privacy, Public Records

3D Printing: The Manufactory of Knowledge

Ken Strutin’s article addresses the increasing use and impact, social and legal, of the emerging and high visibility technology known as 3D printing. The technology’s use in a wide range of sectors – including education, manufacturing, firearms, robotics and medical devices, as well as in the home – is raising a plethora of patent, trademark and intellectual property issues. In addition, libraries and museums are beginning to embrace 3D technologies for archiving and collection development. And the widespread ability to create three-dimensional objects via technology is transforming information collection, storage and communication across a spectrum of fields.

Subjects: Criminal Law, Features, Gadgets, Legal Research Training, Legal Technology, Libraries & Librarians, Library Software & Technology, Technology Trends

DNA Evidence: Brave New World, Same Old Problems

Criminal law expert Ken Strutin guides us through the critical facets that comprise the backbone of investigative forensics in the 21st Century – the database. Ken states that of all information gathering techniques, genetic databanking has become the holy grail of prosecutions and the last resort for exonerations. It is both the cause of and solution to many problems in the administration of justice. Thus, DNA forensics highlights the longstanding tension between scientific understanding and legal reasoning. While DNA’s scientific reputation is very near to magic, its forensic applications are subject to the faults and limitations of every kind of evidence offered as proof in a court of law. Ken’s article collects research on the law and science of genetic evidence at the pre-conviction stage. It focuses on the role of DNA in identification, investigation and prosecution of crime, social and privacy issues, and to some degree exculpation or evidence of third party culpability.

Subjects: Criminal Law, Features, Legal Research

Negotiating Justice: The New Constitutional Spectrum of Plea Bargaining

Ken Strutin focuses on the impact of the Supreme Court’s decisions in Missouri v. Frye and Lafler v. Cooper, and the upcoming appeal in Burt v. Titlow in regard to placing plea bargaining front and center on the national stage. As a result, they have divided practitioners and scholars into two camps: (1) those who consider the rulings to be a new statement in the law of plea bargaining and right to effective assistance of counsel; and (2) those who believe they are only a restatement of established principles. These cases have generated interest in the centrality and regulation of plea bargaining, the ethics and effectiveness of defense counsel as negotiator, the oversight of prosecutors regarding charging decisions, sentence recommendations and pre-trial discovery, and the scope of federal habeas corpus review and remedies. Ken’s article is a comprehensive annotated guide to high court opinions, scholarship and commentary regarding the themes addressed by the Supreme Court in Lafler and Frye as well as their implications for the administration of criminal justice.

Subjects: Constitutional Law, Court Resources, Criminal Law, Features, Legal Research, Supreme Court, United States Law

Post-Conviction Representation, Pro Se Practice and Access to the Courts

After the first criminal appeal, there is no constitutional right to counsel. Thus, the convicted and imprisoned pursuing discretionary appeals and habeas corpus relief must research, investigate and litigate as their own attorney. Law librarian, criminal defense attorney, and well-known writer and speaker Ken Strutin’s guide documents a body of law that has developed defining the spectrum between full-blown post-conviction representation and the impact of the conditions of confinement on pro se litigants.

Subjects: Court Resources, Criminal Law, Features, Legal Profession, Legal Research

Arson and the Science of Fire

Ken Strutin’s expert commentary focuses on the duality of fire as both a science and a set of actions and behaviors initiated by individuals and groups. Strutin documents how these factors relate to the complexities of criminal prosecutions in this arena, and how assumptions about the former have led to misjudgments about the latter. Further, he examines how progress in the understanding of how fires begin and spread has called into question the integrity of arson convictions. His guide is a collection of selected research publications, web resources and case studies as well as scholarly legal articles and scientific reports on arson investigation and fire science.

Subjects: Criminal Law, Features, Legal Research
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