State Legislatures, Courts Seen Shifting to Police, Prosecution


Convicted of peddling cocaine and marijuana, Joshua Hayes was sentenced to 29 years in prison after authorities said they found bricks of marijuana, a hydroponic grow operation, and 400 grams of cocaine while executing a search warrant at his Nashville home. A simple typo on the warrant undid all of that and an appeals court reversed his conviction, The Tennessean reports. Tennessee's legislature has since passed a law that allows more room for errors in warrants in criminal cases. The move, which is reflected in other state legislatures and even the U.S. Supreme Court, troubles civil liberties advocates and defense attorneys, who note a national shift tipping the judicial system more in favor of police and prosecutors as opposed to the accused.

“It's very concerning to the defense bar,” said Jeff Henry of the Tennessee District Public Defenders Conference “It's a change in the precedent that we have been interpreting for years in judicial decisions. We see it as less recognition of individual rights.” Tennessee is not the only place where prosecutors and police are being given more power. On May 16, the U.S. Supreme Court in an 8-1 opinion gave police across the nation more leeway in searching homes without a warrant. The case involved police in Kentucky who chased a suspect to his apartment and broke in when they thought evidence was being destroyed.

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