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Prosecutors: Reform Is Up to You

This month’s failure of proposed federal legislation to overhaul sentencing suggests that Congress is not the place to look for ways to reduce our prison population. Why not focus on those who put individuals behind bars in the first place?

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MO Communication Prof Charged With Assault For Hassling Journalists

University of Missouri communication professor Melissa Click was charged with assault for her actions during the university’s campus protests last fall, reports ABC 17 News in Columbia, Mo. Interim Chancellor Hank Foley said Click will keep her job for the time being. A university task force will study the Nov. 9 incident. Foley said, “Dr. Click is frankly aggrieved by this. I doubt she would do anything like this again.” Click was seen in several videos confronting journalists and blocking […]

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Senators Hear Debate On “Mens Rea” As Justice Reform Window Narrows

The Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony yesterday on a narrow but crucial issue that has emerged as the main political obstacle to a federal sentencing reform bill: to what degree prosecutors must prove a defendant's criminal intent to win convictions for certain federal crimes. The Washington Post says that for most crimes, federal prosecutors must establish the defendant's willful intent to break the law, or the mens rea (“guilty mind.”). Some crimes in federal statutes and regulations do not include […]

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High Court Eases Prosecutors’ Burden In Death Penalty Cases

The Supreme Court eased the burden for prosecutors seeking the death penalty yesterday, throwing out state court rulings intended to make sure jurors properly considered evidence defense lawyers introduce to argue against a defendant's execution, the Wall Street Journal reports. The issue came from Kansas, where a 2001 state supreme court ruling required trial judges to tell jurors that mitigating evidence need not be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. The jury instructions were omitted at trials for brothers Jonathan and […]

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Should 20-Year Old Drug Crimes Block PA Barber From Serving On Council?

In the early 1990s, police in Pennsylvania suspected that Corry Sanders dealt cocaine out of his house, caught him transporting the dope, and, on four occasions, bought a total of $11,400 worth of the drug using an undercover officer. After being busted, Sanders pleaded no contest to various drug charges and criminal conspiracy — including two felonies — and served prison time. He was paroled in 1998. That was the old Corry Sanders, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The new one […]

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Experts Cite Orange County DA ‘Failure Of Leadership’ In Informant Scandal

A “failure of leadership” at the Orange County, Ca., district attorney’s office led to repeated problems with the handling of jailhouse informants and helped erode confidence in criminal cases that rely on their testimony, says a new report quoted by the Los Angeles Times. The findings presented yesterday by legal experts on a special committee established by District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, described the office as functioning “as a ship without a rudder” and faulted some of its prosecutors for adopting […]