Double Jeopardy

Former White House press secretary and gun regulation activist James Brady died last week. The coroner has apparently ruled Brady’s death a homicide. Nothing new happened, the coroner is simply saying that the bullet to the head that Brady took 33 years ago killed him. As murders go, this was an extremely long-tailed killing. Crim law professors of the world rejoice: life just delivered your next issue spotter.

But can a death three decades after a shooting open the door to a murder prosecution?

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The facts in today’s Supreme Court opinions read like a bloopers reel of our courts system. What do we do when judges are wrong on the law in a criminal case? What if a plaintiff decides, after losing, that he filed in a state court when the state court didn’t have jurisdiction? What if a lawyer doesn’t tell his client that by pleading guilty he’s going to be deported?

As Yakov Smirnoff would say, “What a country!

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* In a Supreme Court decision split across gender lines, prosecutors can now get a do-over on criminal charges without double jeopardy, even if an otherwise deadlocked jury unanimously rejected them. [New York Times]

* And yet another day ended without a verdict in the John Edwards campaign finance trial, but the jury asked to review every exhibit in the case. The former presidential candidate must feel like he’s being punk’d. [CNN]

* The DOJ found that two prosecutors in the Ted Stevens case committed reckless professional misconduct punishable by unpaid time off. Looks like they’ll be getting an extended Memorial Day break. [Blog of Legal Times]

* Hot on the heels of Obama’s announcement in support of gay marriage, yet another California judge has found that DOMA is unconstitutional (along with a provision of the tax code). [Poliglot / Metro Weekly]

* Occupy Wall Street is suing for $48K over the destruction of the group’s “People’s Library” after their eviction from Zuccotti Park. But let’s get real, who wants used books that reek like patchouli and pot? [Bloomberg]

* More than one million “de facto spouses” in Quebec may soon be automatically married by the state against their will. Imagine how much fun it’ll be to get a divorce from someone you never actually married. [Slate]

* Two waitresses who claim they were fired for complaining about their former employer’s “no fatties” policy will get to bring their $15M lawsuit before a jury. Hopefully Peter Griffin isn’t a juror. [Law & Daily Life / FindLaw]