Ken Strutin brings attention and focus to the fact that dog detection at airports for contraband, in traffic stops for narcotics, at fire scenes for accelerants and at suspect lineups are playing an increasingly important role in criminal investigations. At the same time, Ken documents that the thresholds of olfactory detection continue to test the limits of privacy, probable cause and due process. Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court decided two cases involving animal assisted investigation. The fallout from these decisions will add to the evolving body of case law in federal and state courts as they continue to sort out the constitutional limits of this type of investigation.
After the first criminal appeal, there is no constitutional right to counsel. Thus, the convicted and imprisoned pursuing discretionary appeals and habeas corpus relief must research, investigate and litigate as their own attorney. Law librarian, criminal defense attorney, and well-known writer and speaker Ken Strutin’s guide documents a body of law that has developed defining the spectrum between full-blown post-conviction representation and the impact of the conditions of confinement on pro se litigants.
In the past, attorney Nicole L. Black has described misguided attempts by judges to excessively penalize jurors for using social media or the Internet during the pendency of trials. In fact, over the last year, judges have gone so far as to fine or jail jurors who have used social media during trial, and legislators have proposed laws that would criminalize such conduct. This despite the fact that jurors have been violating judges’ orders not to research or discuss pending cases since the dawn of jury trials.
Wendy Schneider outlines what you really need to know about motion practice in the Eastern District of Texas. Her previous two guides, for the Southern District of New York and the Central District of California, are available here.
In criminal cases, there have been challenges on sufficiency grounds and concerns over the use of forensic DNA evidence as the sole or primary proof of guilt. Uncorroborated DNA matching might not be enough to satisfy the burden of establishing guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The reliability of forensic DNA testing results might be questioned for any number of reasons, e.g., laboratory error, cross-contamination, interpretive bias or fraud, etc. Ken Strutin’s essay provides an overview of nuclear DNA typing, a sampling of the kinds of discretionary decisions that analysts often confront when interpreting crime scene samples, and concludes with with remarks about current disputes in forensic DNA typing, and how recognition of its inherent subjectivity might inform and illuminate these debates.
Stanford Law School deputy library director Erika Wayne describes an open source document access project focused on improving PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records), sponsored by a small group of research savvy and customer service oriented law librarians.
In this column, Troy Simpson writes on persuading judges in writing. This first article in the series surveys the history of written advocacy in three jurisdictions — England and Wales, Australia, and America – to show why good written advocacy is vital to the modern lawyer.
Yasmin Morais’s guide is designed to facilitate research on a new court which was inaugurated on April 16, 2005 in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. The court is expected to serve as a court of last resort for Caribbean states. The guide traces the court’s history and outlines its mandate and structure, its funding, its justices and recent judgments.
Heather A. Phillips’ evaluation of R. Kent Newmyer’s book is that it paints a compelling and nuanced portrait of Justice John Marshall, not so much as a man, but as a thinker.
Heather A. Phillips joins LLRX with a regular book review column. This month’s titles are Evolution, Intelligent Design and a School Board in Dover, PA and The Supreme Court and the Religion Clauses.