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June 30, 2009

Supreme Court Holds Defendant has the Right to Cross-Examine Forensic Analysts in Criminal Trials

The Supreme Court of the United States held last week by a 5-4 majority, that a criminal defendant has the right to cross-examine forensic analysts under the Sixth Amendment’s Confrontation Clause. The ruling in Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts requires Prosecutors who offer drug, blood, ballistic, or other forensic reports as evidence at trial to call the analyst who prepared the report to testify. This procedure allows the Defense to cross-examine the analyst, rather than the Court simply entering the unchallenged...

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May 20, 2009

Minnesota Legislature Interprets Federal Law to Allow States to Block Internet Gambling Sites, Raising First Amendment Concerns

A recent order by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, which would block access of residents to a list of gambling websites, has come under criticism for infringing upon First Amendment rights. The State of Minnesota published a seven page list of internet gambling web sites, which it then distributed to Internet Service Providers operating within the state and ordered the ISPs not to provide access to the listed sites. The order to blacklist the websites came on the legislature’s interpretation of a Federal law, stating the law “requires upon notice of a law enforcement agency...

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October 17, 2008

United States Supreme Court Denies Motions of Obese Ohio Man Sentenced to Death

The Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits the Federal Government, and as such State Governments, via the Fourteenth Amendment, from imposing excessive bail, excessive fines, and cruel and unusual punishments for people charged and/or convicted of criminal offenses. For years, arguments whether the death penalty constitutes excessive or cruel and unusual punishment have been heard by many courts across the nation, both federal and state. For Richard Cooey, however, the death penalty in general was not of his concern but rather how the death penalty applied in his...

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July 3, 2008

U.S. SUPREME COURT RULES ABSENT WITNESSES CANNOT HAVE TESTIMONY ADMITTED

Last week, the United States Supreme Court ruled that an absent witness’ testimony cannot be admitted to prove a defendant’s guilt, unless the defendant engaged in acts of misconduct specifically intended to procure the absence of the witness. The criminal justice system has never imposed a duty on a defendant to help the prosecution in proving his or her guilt; however, a defendant has an affirmative duty to refrain from actions that destroy the integrity of the criminal-trial system. The commonly known “Rule of Forfeiture by Wrongdoing” provides that a defendant forfeits his or...

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June 30, 2008

UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT MAKES FIRST EVER RULING REGARDING SECOND AMENDMENT RIGHTS

“A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed”. This, the wording of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, has caused great debate throughout our country’s history. In efforts to reduce high rates or crime and to promote safety, many laws have been passed in an attempt to regulate ownership and use of firearms. Until now, courts have been hesitant to examine the issue as to whether regulations violate a person’s constitutionally protected right to bear...

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