ACLU Sues Nevada Over Inadequate Public Defender System

Nevada’s public defender system leaves lawyers underpaid and rural defendants underrepresented, according to a federal class-action lawsuit filed today by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Nevada. In a lawsuit arguing Nevada has abandoned its Sixth Amendment duty to provide meaningful legal representation to poor defendants, the Nevada ACLU writes that the state’s public defender system is “plagued with serious structural deficiencies that have created a patchwork approach to indigent representation and rendered access to justice a function of geography.” The suit is the ACLU’s eighth ongoing legal challenge to what criminal justice advocates say is a national epidemic of underfunded and inadequate public defender systems.

Source: ACLU Sues Nevada Over Inadequate Public Defender System

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Document: Brig. Gen. John Baker Habeas Petition

Brig. Gen. John Baker, chief defense counsel of the military commisions, petitioned the federal district court in Washington for a writ of habeas corpus Thursday morning. Col. Vance Spath, the military judge presiding over the al-Nashiri military commission, held Baker in contempt Wednesday morning and sentenced the chief defense counsel to 21 days confinement.

Source: Document: Brig. Gen. John Baker Habeas Petition

Bogus Stoned Driving Arrests Highlight Dubious Methods of ‘Drug Recognition Experts’

To the untrained eye, Katelyn Ebner seems completely sober during her 28-minute roadside encounter with Cobb County, Georgia, police officer Tracy Carroll, who has pulled the 23-year-old waitress over for ailing to maintain her lane as she made a left turn.

Source: Bogus Stoned Driving Arrests Highlight Dubious Methods of ‘Drug Recognition Experts’

Prosecutors Lied About a Chemist Who Tainted 18,000 Convictions. Time to Overturn Them All.

A crime lab technician tests a substance thought to be cocaine. AFP/Getty Images On Jan. 9, 2012, Sonja Farak—a chemist at a crime lab in Amherst, Massachusetts—pilfered a sample of crack cocaine and smoked it in the bathroom throughout the morning.

Source: Prosecutors Lied About a Chemist Who Tainted 18,000 Convictions. Time to Overturn Them All.

Texas Schedules Execution but Refuses DNA Tests That Could Prove a Man’s Innocence

When hunters walking in the piney woods of Sam Houston National Forest in East Texas found the body of 19-year-old Melissa Trotter on January 2, 1999, her jeans were torn and her shirt was pulled up. There was tissue damage on her face from scavenging animals and a length of pantyhose, which had been used to strangle her, was tied around her neck.

Source: Texas Schedules Execution but Refuses DNA Tests That Could Prove a Man’s Innocence

[Eugene Volokh] Mum’s the word: Secret proceeding about secret order to keep secret a police abuse guilty plea

(iStock) According to a 2013 Houston Chronicle article , Derek Collier Thorworth was indicted for “hitting a handcuffed prisoner … in the back of a patrol car”; Thorworth was a Harris County, Tex., deputy constable at the time. In February 2016, according to Houston Channel 2 , Thorworth pleaded guilty: The incident happened in [victim Ferry Rounds’] North Harris County driveway in August 2012 after the now-32-year-old failed to pull over initially for a traffic stop involving expired registration.

Source: [Eugene Volokh] Mum’s the word: Secret proceeding about secret order to keep secret a police abuse guilty plea

The Secret Slush Funds of Asset Forfeiture

Asset forfeiture laws don’t just allow the police to seize property they claim is connected to criminal activity; they often let the cops keep the proceeds from what they take. This profit incentive is one of the biggest problems with the practice, since it gives police an incentive to pursue petty and indefensible seizures to pad out their own budgets.

Source: The Secret Slush Funds of Asset Forfeiture