Monday, April 30, 2012

Ohio Innocence Project Akron Case

As the Columbus Dispatch reported last week, lab test results from DNA found at a Summit County murder scene indicate that the DNA did not belong to Dewey Jones, currently 17 years into a life sentence for the murder. Attorneys representing Jones from the Ohio Innocence Project recently sought leave to file a motion for a new trial. The Ohio Innocence Project, directed by Moritz grad and University of Cincinnati law professor Mark Godsey, has helped secure the release of ten prisoners since its founding in 2003, including Raymond Towler. Towler served nearly 30 years of a life sentence for juvenile rape before being exonerated in May 2010.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Top Ten Super PAC Donors

In a recent article, iWatch News provides profiles of the top ten donors to super PACs. The article reports that the amounts given by these donors (individuals and a few organizations) comprise a third of all super PAC donations. The totals per donor range from $2.25 million to $26.5 million (casino magnate Sheldon Adelson). This chart provides a quick reference to the donors, the total amounts given, and ideological leanings. iWatch News is affiliated with the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit investigative news organization.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Mr. District Attorney

For something a little lighter during exam season, please enjoy the Mr. District Attorney comic books from the 1940s and 1950s.

h/t: Lowering the Bar and Abnormal Use

DC Wikia

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

When (Will) Courts Join the #21st Century

The U.S. Supreme Court persistently resists TV cameras--a 20th century technology--in the court room, a position Congress may change (see Senate bill 1945).  The Justices also resist citing that premier 21st century resource:  Wikipedia.  A recent Wall Street Journal Law Blog report reveals, however, that lower courts are not so immune to the charms of the online encyclopedia, citing entries on Elvis Presley and "Blazing Saddles," for example.

Some judges even more fully embrace 21st century technology.  Last week, a Manhattan judge ruled that an Occupy Wall Street protestor had no privacy interest in his Twitter feed (see New York Times coverage).  Judge Sciarrino reportedly peppered his ruling with hashtags--see BuzzFeed for a sampling--but it seems he did not limit himself to 140 characters. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

First Charges Filed in Oil Spill

The first criminal charges regarding with 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico were filed today.  A former BP engineer has been charged with obstructing justice for allegedly deleting messages from his iPhone that detailed how much oil was entering the Gulf.  He was part of the BP team sent to estimate the severity of the leak and try to stop it.

Department of Justice Press Release (including the complaint and affidavit)


Wall Street Journal


Monday, April 23, 2012

Zimmerman Court Documents

Seminole County Circuit Court Judge Kenneth R. Lester Jr. of Florida's Eighteenth Judicial Circuit has unsealed the record in George Zimmerman's case. Many of the court documents, some with redactions, are now available on the court's website. Documents include the prosecution's probable cause affidavit as well as an exhibit list showing two prior legal matters involving Zimmerman. See the Wall Street Journal for additional details.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Those WERE the Thieves He Was Looking For

Using nothing more than his experience as a marathon runner and, according to LegalPad, some "Jedi mind control," San Francisco attorney David Newdorf foiled the teenage thieves who mugged him for his cell phone.

When one of the teens snatched the phone from his hand, Newdorf ran them down, convinced them to return it...and then used it to take pictures of the thieves and contact the police.  According to Newdorf's Twitter feed, the teens were charged in juvenile court and released to home detention.

Exams are on the horizon, but don't forget to stay in shape--you never know when it might come in handy!


Above the Law

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Recuse Me

Two Florida Circuit judges have recused themselves from the Trayvon Martin case. The first, Jessica Recksiedler, withdrew because of a potential conflict of interest—her husband works for with a CNN legal analyst. The second, John D. Galluzzo, formerly practiced with Zimmerman’s current attorney, Mark O’Mara. For more, see coverage in the Miami Herald.

That’s not the only recusal in the news lately. The final oral argument of this Supreme Court term, scheduled for April 25, will be one justice short. Justice Kagan recused herself from Arizona v. United States (see cert grant) because of work she had done as Solicitor General, raising the possibility of a 4-4 decision in this important immigration case. Justice Kagan resisted calls (like this one from Senator Jeff Sessions) to recuse herself from another big case— U.S. Department of Health and Human Services v. Florida—the Affordable Care Act case.

When should judges recuse themselves? Chief Justice John Roberts devoted the first part of his 2011 Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary to a discussion of how the Justices “address ethical issues.” For a range of scholarly perspectives on recusal, see this debate presented by PENNumbra.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Federal Budget "Infographics" from CBO

The Congressional Budget Office recently released new "infographics" on the federal budget including separate displays for federal revenues, mandatory spending, and discretionary spending, as well as a federal budget overview. According to the CBO, these releases are part of its effort to make budgetary information more accessible.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Teller of Penn & Teller Sues over Magic Trick

Teller (the silent half of magical duo Penn & Teller) is suing Gerard Bakardy for allegedly revealing the secret behind "Shadows" (an illusion in which the magician "cuts" the shadow of a flower, and the real flower comes apart) and attempting to sell the secret of the illusion for around $3,000.

Teller registered "Shadows" with the U.S. Copyright Office in 1983.

MSNBC (watch Teller perform "Shadows" here!)

Law and Magic Blog

Rabbit-filled hat tip: Legal Blog Watch (Teller's drawing of "Shadows" is here)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Dancing on Security Video Leads to ID of Suspect

Your signature dance moves can and will be used against you.
A teen from Galveston, Texas, is one of three suspects in a burglary from a Duck Tours boat.  Security cameras caught the young man dancing, and the routine was recognized by school police officers.

Hat Tip: Lowering the Bar (see the video here!)

Huffington Post

Galveston Daily News

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Lots of cases but no law license

The Detroit Free Press reports on a troubling situation involving a man with a law degree from a Nigerian law school who apparently represented clients in Michigan courts for several years without a Michigan law license.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Ohio Texting-While-Driving Bill Stalled

We have posted in the past about HB 99, which would ban texting while driving in Ohio.  Although it passed the House, the bill appears to have stalled, due in part to concerns about enforcement and the definition of the term "texting."

Mansfield News Journal

Ohio News Network


Friday, April 06, 2012

Ohio School First Amendment Case

A southwestern Ohio student recently filed a complaint in federal court against his school district, alleging that the school unlawfully prevented him from wearing a t-shirt with the message, "Jesus Is Not a Homophobe." Earlier this week a judge issued a temporary ruling permitting the student to wear the t-shirt pending a final ruling of the court. See coverage from the Dayton Daily News.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

SCOTUS Statistics

SCOTUSblog has a series of posts analyzing statistics of the Supreme Court.  Here is the latest, bringing us up to date on this Term.

For some historical perspective, here are some more Supreme Court facts and figures.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Juvenile Sentencing in Ohio

Earlier, we posted on recent cases on juvenile sentencing at the U.S. Supreme Court. Yesterday, the Ohio Supreme Court annouced a new ruling on juvenile sentencing.

The Court ruled that Ohio's Adam Walsh Act imposed unconstitutional automatic and lifelong registration and notification requirements on juvenile sex offenders, under both the United States Constitution and the Ohio Constition. Read the opinion here and Columbus Dispatch coverage here.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Monday, April 02, 2012

Supreme Court Upholds NJ Jail Strip-Search Policies

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that strip-search policies at two New Jersey jail facilities were not unconstitutional, even as to suspicionless searches of arrestees processed for minor offenses. See brief commentary from the Wall Street Journal as well as the case pages on SCOTUSblog and Oyez.