Category «Criminal Law»

Litigation, trial and pre-trail iPad apps for lawyers

One of the most popular and rapidly growing categories of apps for lawyers are those developed for litigation, during trials and during the pretrial discovery phase. In this article, attorney, legal blogger and legal tech expert Nicole Black recommends more than a dozen affordable, flexible and innovative iPad apps to assist attorneys in their work to develop, streamline, simplify and track critical litigation processes.

Subjects: Courts & Technology, Criminal Law, Legal Research, Legal Technology, Litigation Support, Mobile Tech, Mobile Technology, Technology Trends

Mass Incarceration and the “Degree of Civilization”

Ken Strutin – law librarian, criminal defense attorney, and well-known writer and speaker, documents the preeminence of the United States as the world leader in incarceration. He states that incarceration is when a person loses their freedom pending trial or by serving a sentence – and mass incarceration is when millions of people are imprisoned and kept there based on a generation of tough on crime policies. The number of persons behind bars, which is higher in the United States than anywhere in the world, creates a ripple effect throughout the criminal justice system and society at large. This fact has inspired intense study of this punishment by many academic disciplines, public interest institutions and government agencies. His article focuses on selected recent and notable publications from these sources along with a list of current awareness sites.

Subjects: Criminal Law, Ethics, Features, Legal Research

Clemency Clinics: A Blueprint for Justice

Ken Strutin’s article presents a significant collection of expertly selected resources on clemency and other established post-conviction projects. It also includes general resources that can be used in the process of starting up a clemency clinic or a project in a law school, bar association, law firm, university, college or any entity interested in undertaking a role in arena of work. Ken documents how innocence projects and law clinics are good models for clemency projects because they pursue claims frequently raised in pardons. He also identifies how schools of journalism, paralegal and legal assistant programs, and private law firms, defense providers, individual attorneys and not-for-profits spearheaded by those directly affected, have embraced a mission to address injustice in their particular ways.

Subjects: Criminal Law, Features, Legal Research

Veterans in the Criminal Justice System: Defending Conditions of the Mind

Ken Strutin’s guide includes key recent and notable cases, surveys, studies, guides, web resources and directories for legal research specific to veterans’ deployed to war who subsequently developed mental health problems, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD).

Subjects: Criminal Law, Features, Human Rights, Legal Research, Surveys

Pretrial Detention, Bail and Due Process

Ken Strutin’s guide comprises recent publications and other notable resources concerning the relationship between the administration of bail and the requirements of due process. Pretrial detention of suspects directly impacts the presumption of innocence. The cornerstone of the justice system is that no one will be punished without the benefit of due process. Incarceration before trial, when the outcome of the case is yet to be determined, cuts against this principle. The Founders were aware of the dangers inherent in indiscriminate imprisonment, which is one of the main reasons behind the inclusion of the Eighth Amendment in the Bill of Rights, prohibiting excessive bail.

Subjects: Criminal Law, Features, Legal Research

The Age of Innocence: Actual, Legal and Presumed

Ken Strutin reasons that any accounting of the justice system would put the presumption of innocence at the top of the ledger. The premise underlying this evidentiary rule is that no one should be found guilty of a crime unless the state has convinced a jury with proof beyond a reasonable doubt. The materials Ken has researched and documented for this guide focus on the drift from unitary innocence, which encompasses all possible claims to a wrongful conviction, to factual innocence rooted in exoneration jurisprudence. According to some scholars, factual exonerations may have confounded the wisdom behind the Blackstone Ratio and its overarching message, i.e., criminal law and procedure ought to be weighted in favor of innocence to avoid wrongful conviction, even if there is a chance that the guilty will benefit as well. In other words, a system of justice that is fair to all and seeks to protect the innocent from wrongful prosecutions must apply safeguards that will be over inclusive. The calculations of truth and fairness are rooted in a system of justice based on due process (or a presumption of due process). The scholarship collected here attempts to address questions of whether the concept of innocence is selective or categorical.

Subjects: Criminal Law, Features, Legal Research

Actual Innocence and Freestanding Claims for Relief

Ken Strutin has written extensively for LLRX.com on criminal law issues. He argues that false confessions, bad eyewitness identifications, and faulty forensics, among other problems, have shown that seemingly iron clad adjudications can reach the wrong result. A ‘guilty’ verdict only indicates that the government has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed each and every element of the crime, and not that the defendant actually committed the crime. A freestanding claim of actual innocence is a potentially powerful tool to assail a verdict that points to the wrong person. Still, courts have made only small gains in recognizing actual innocence generally as a basis for contesting a wrongful conviction. This article collects selected scholarship on “actual innocence” and litigating post-conviction claims that go beyond the procedural metrics of the trial process.

Subjects: Criminal Law, Features, Legal Research

Forensic Evidence and the CSI Effect

The media’s popularization of certain types of evidence may be inspiring a “CSI effect” on decision makers according to Ken Strutin. There is a question about whether impressions created by the media in its treatment and portrayal of forensic proof as either irrefutable or absolutely necessary for conviction is truly impacting the outcome of criminal cases. Ken’s guide is a collection of select legal scholarship and media studies that illuminates the extent of the phenomenon and whether it needs to be addressed and how.

Subjects: Criminal Law, Internet Resources - Web Links, Legal Research, Online Legal Research Services

DNA Identification Evidence in Criminal Prosecutions

In criminal cases, there have been challenges on sufficiency grounds and concerns over the use of forensic DNA evidence as the sole or primary proof of guilt. Uncorroborated DNA matching might not be enough to satisfy the burden of establishing guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The reliability of forensic DNA testing results might be questioned for any number of reasons, e.g., laboratory error, cross-contamination, interpretive bias or fraud, etc. Ken Strutin’s essay provides an overview of nuclear DNA typing, a sampling of the kinds of discretionary decisions that analysts often confront when interpreting crime scene samples, and concludes with with remarks about current disputes in forensic DNA typing, and how recognition of its inherent subjectivity might inform and illuminate these debates.

Subjects: Court Resources, Courts & Technology, Criminal Law, Features, Legal Research

Wrongful Conviction and Attorney-Client Confidentiality

Interpreting Rule 1.6(b)(1) of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct in the context of wrongful convictions is complicated by evidentiary and practical considerations surrounding the potential use of such information. This article by Ken Strutin examines resources about several notable cases and the scholarly literature analyzing different approaches to resolving this dilemma.

Subjects: Criminal Law, Features, Legal Research
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