Criminal Law

Issues to Watch

Could Harsher Penalties Deter Prosecutors from Tampering with Exculpatory Evidence?


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Could Harsher Penalties Deter Prosecutors from Tampering with Exculpatory Evidence?

Richard Byrne III*

Any practicing attorney, law student, or layperson knows that tampering with evidence is one of the worst misdeeds an attorney can commit. Not only does the tampering of evidence often result in otherwise incorrect rulings, it completely undermines the judicial system’s primary function of dispensing justice. This rings especially true in criminal cases where the ultimate result of evidence tampering may cost defendants precious years of their lives, if not life itself. Despite such injustice, overzealous prosecutors seeking an easy trial or a high conviction rate might feel inclined to conceal, tamper with, or even destroy evidence that could quite possibly exonerate a defendant.

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Issues to Watch

The Constitutionality of Local and State Cash Bail Systems


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The Constitutionality of Local and State Cash Bail Systems

Marleigh Davis*

Lately there has been a push encouraging states to move away from fixed cash bail systems and the practice of jailing those who cannot pay.  Pete Williams, Justice Department Says Poor Can’t Be Held when They Can’t Afford Bail, NBC News (Aug.19, 2016, 5:10 PM), http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/justice-department-says-poor-can-t-be-held-when-they-n634676.  The U.S. Justice Department took a stand on this issue in late August after filing a brief with the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, alleging that the fixed cash bail practice is in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Associated Press, Feds Say That It’s Unfair to Hold Poor Defendants if They Can’t Afford Bail, Fortune (Aug. 20, 2016, 7:37 PM), http://fortune.com/2016/08/20/poor-defendants-bail/.  The Justice Department argues that local courts that jail poor arrestees because they cannot pay bail are discriminating against the poor, thus violating the Equal Protection Clause.  Id.

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Issues to Watch

Two Fronts Converge in the War Against Online Sex Trafficking


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Two Fronts Converge in the War Against Online Sex Trafficking

David Dix*

Two fronts in the fight against online sex trafficking will soon come to a head.  Carl Ferrer, the CEO of Backpage.com, was recently arrested and charged with felony pimping. Christopher Mele, C.E.O. of Backpage.com, Known for Escort Ads, Is Charged with Pimping a Minor, N.Y. Times (Oct. 6, 2016), http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/07/us/carl-ferrer-backpage-ceo-is-arrested.html.  Backpage describes itself as the second-largest online classified advertisement service, and according to California prosecutors, ninety-nine percent of its income is “directly attributed” to its adult advertising.  Id.  At the time of the arrest, Ferrer was already embroiled in a standoff with the Senate Subcommittee on Investigations for failing to show up to a subpoena in 2015.  Senate Permanent Subcomm. v. Ferrer, No. 16-mc-621 (RMC), 2016 WL 4179289 (D.D.C. Aug. 5 2016).

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Issues to Watch

Same Crime, but Not the Same Time


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Same Crime, but Not the Same Time 

                                                      Nicole Smith*

The last couple of years have provided many clear examples that racism is still very prominent in the United States: multiple high-profile police killings of young black men, the racially-motivated shooting of nine African Americans in Charleston, South Carolina, and the ongoing debate over the removal of the Confederate flag. Janie Velencia, Majority of White People Say There’s Racism Everywhere, but Not Around Them, Huffington Post (Sep. 9, 2015), http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/white-people-racism-poll_us_55a91a4fe4b0c5f0322d17f2. The last year has also shed light on the tendency for convicted whites to receive more lenient sentences than minorities who commit the same crimes. While recent cases such as the Brock Turner case sparked public outcry, this is not a new issue.
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