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Criminal Law - FBI Hair & Ballistics "Experts" - Death Penalty

Want to know why the death penalty should NEVER be allowed in criminal law? Here's a perfectly terrifying reason: Yet another death row inmate was just added to the growing innocence list compiled by the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC), after he was cleared in the murder of an elderly woman and her daughter - but he's still sentenced to die for the murders of two college students. Think Progress.Org has published this expose of FBI pseudo-science claims in criminal law trials that have out too many people in prison who don't belong there, and many on death row, some of whom have already been executed for crimes they Did Not Commit.

Criminal Law - FBI Hair & Ballistics "Experts" - Death Penalty

Want to know why the death penalty should NEVER be allowed in criminal law? Here's a perfectly terrifying reason: Yet another death row inmate was just added to the growing innocence list compiled by the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC), after he was cleared in the murder of an elderly woman and her daughter - but he's still sentenced to die for the murders of two college students. Think Progress.Org has published this expose of FBI pseudo-science claims in criminal law trials that have out too many people in prison who don't belong there, and many on death row, some of whom have already been executed for crimes they Did Not Commit.

Criminal Law - FBI Hair & Ballistics "Experts" - Death Penalty

Want to know why the death penalty should NEVER be allowed in criminal law? Here's a perfectly terrifying reason: Yet another death row inmate was just added to the growing innocence list compiled by the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC), after he was cleared in the murder of an elderly woman and her daughter - but he's still sentenced to die for the murders of two college students. Think Progress.Org has published this expose of FBI pseudo-science claims in criminal law trials that have out too many people in prison who don't belong there, and many on death row, some of whom have already been executed for crimes they Did Not Commit.

Federal Criminal Law - The Federal Code

There are literally thousands of federal criminal laws on the books today, and learning them all would take more than a few law school courses.  But we at Burdick Law want everyone who is interested in understanding how the federal system works, or who is facing charges in that system, to have a solid understanding of what the laws are, what they mean, and what kind of penalties attach to them if you are convicted.

Wrongful Convictions Not Fixed - Innocent Defendants Executed

In 1997, an FBI Lab Tech, Fred Whitehurst, blew the whistle on shoddy work practices. As a consequence, the Justice Department promised extensive review and alteration of the processes that led to misconduct, and wrongful convictions of defendants in numerous cases. Even when the FBI knew their work had been shoddy and the wrong person convicted - in death penalty cases as well - they didn't bother sending timely notifications to the prosecutors in those cases, and never notified defendants' attorneys at all. And, sometimes when they did notify the prosecutors, they ignored it, and never told the defendants' lawyers - even resulting in innocent men being put to death.

Department of Justice FINALLY Requires (Most) In-Custody Intgerrogations to be Recorded. Finally!

Finally the Department of Justice does the right thing and (sort of) requires agents to record all in-custody suspect interrogations.  There are still lots of absurd exceptions (only if the interrogation is in a "secured" police building -- so if they're in the car on the way, not obligations -- I can see some unscrupulous agents exploiting this), and they only did this because, more often than not, it's been turning out that jurors don't believe police or agents when they claim a suspect said this or that, and when there was taping equipment available but the agents didn't "bother to" record. So, the bigger benefit really still goes to the government, but it will nevertheless help that certain subset of defendants who are amazed by what the agents' reports claim they said in interrogation.  Better than nothing, yet sad that it could only come about because the government was losing cases, and respect, without it. Most of this is thanks to stupid, unrealistic TV cop shows, but, as a defense lawyer, I'll take the gain wherever I can find it.  Justice will be better served. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-rt-us-usa-justice-record-20140522,0,899210.story

More on Robbie Tolan - Details of What Happened the Night the Police Shot Yet Another Unarmed Black Man

Turns out that, when a second cop on the scene "instructed" Tolan's Mom, who was on her own porch, to stop yelling, "Why are you doing that to my son," the police decided that was refusal to accept police instruction.  Laying aside the question of who made the police the arbiter of who could say what, the second officer on the scene, a sergeant, while Robbie was face down on his own front law, grabbed Mom and slammed her face first into the front door.

United States Fifth Circuit - Mostly Texas Judges, of Course - Take the Word of Police Automatically, According to the United States Supreme Court

It's rare for the United States Supreme Court, with 5 ultra conservative justices, to ever side against police or prosecutors.  But some right-wing judges take that history as a license to go even further out from reality to help police to the detriment of regular citizens.

Real Life Crime Labs Not At All Like TV

The crime lab procedural has been among the most popular genres at least since "CSI" debuted in 2000, and devotees of blood-spatter patterns and advanced DNA analysis have no shortage of programming to choose from. There's "Person of Interest," "The Good Wife," "Blacklist," "Castle," and "The Mentalist." All are in the top 20 best-rated shows on television. And let's not forget "Bones," "Dexter," "CSI: Las Vegas," "Cold Case Files," "The Real NCIS," and "Forensic Files."  But you ought not believe any of the fancy (not to mention instantaneous) forensic "results" shown on these TV dramas.  Television writers give the public a perception of forensic science that is anything but accurate.  Sadly, the public believes it - and that includes jurors.  (Fairness Admission: I have used that very misperception to the great advantage of several clients at trial by pressing police witnesses to explain why they "didn't bother" trying to get fingerprints from this or that piece of evidence, why they didn't conduct various tests as seen on TV everyday -- and the jurors frankly were very impressed each time.)