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Double Jeopardy: And the categories are …

January 11, 2012

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Double Jeopardy:  And the categories are …

We’re gonna talk about the Constitution’s Double Jeopardy Clause – nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb – but excuse me for a moment while I watch this video (sorry about the ad up front):  OK.  That just cracks me up.  Where was […]

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Spousal Privilege in Pennsylvania: When your spouse doesn’t have to testify

January 9, 2012

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Spousal Privilege in Pennsylvania: When your spouse doesn’t have to testify

Some relationships are fundamental to a healthy society. From a legal perspective, these relationships cover religion, physical and mental health, the law, and the nuclear family.  As a general statement, conversations within these relationships are privileged – no one can compel a participant to disclose what was said, not even a court.  We can’t optimize […]

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Lawsuit of the Day: I’m not entirely sure what to do with this …

January 1, 2012

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Lawsuit of the Day:  I’m not entirely sure what to do with this …

So I pull a civil complaint – Estate of Stacie Smith v. Casto.  I immediately set aside that the attorney, filing on behalf of the mother as personal representative for the estate, misspelled Stacie’s name in the caption as “Stacice.”  I like civil cases that have underlying criminal matters.  Stacie, sad to say, was murdered. […]

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Eyewitness testimony: Remembering what you didn’t see

December 29, 2011

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Eyewitness testimony:  Remembering what you didn’t see

Set aside the alleged over-importance jurors give to Expert Witnesses when it’s explained from the comfortable confines of his $3,000 hand-tailored suit that Analyses A and B led to Conclusion C with a 99.9944% accuracy, and then the DA rams home during closing argument that Conclusion C points to and only to the guilt of […]

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Escape on Christmas Eve: Merry Christmas Everyone!

December 23, 2011

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Escape on Christmas Eve:  Merry Christmas Everyone!

Some cases bring holiday cheer without a need to editorialize or instruct outside the opinion.  Enjoy, everyone.  Merry Christmas. 311 So.2d 381 (1975) Johnny Diamond HELTON, Appellant, v. STATE of Florida, Appellee. No. W-217.District Court of Appeal of Florida, First District.April 24, 1975.382*382 Alan R. Parlapiano, Asst. Public Defender, for appellant. Robert L. Shevin, Atty. Gen., and A.S. Johnston, […]

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In re: PFC Manning and Rushes to Judgment

December 19, 2011

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In re: PFC Manning and Rushes to Judgment

Every once in a while a trial comes along that concerns an incident broadcast widely.  When I was cutting my teeth as an attorney, it was OJ Simpson.  Recently, it was Michael Jackson’s doctor and that girl in Florida that supposedly killed her daughter.  Today, it is PFC Manning. Manning allegedly downloaded a ton of […]

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I got a Public Defender. That’s bad, right? Slow down, Brewster

December 5, 2011

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I got a Public Defender.  That’s bad, right?  Slow down, Brewster

Cutting to the chase of the Constitution, when a person faces the risk of incarceration over a criminal case they are entitled to an attorney free of charge if they can’t afford one out of their own pocket.  It’s quite the requirement to satisfy as a fundamental aspect of our criminal-justice system.  In my judicial […]

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Sir Walter Raleigh lost his head, and we got the 6th Amendment Confrontation Clause

November 18, 2011

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Sir Walter Raleigh lost his head, and we got the 6th Amendment Confrontation Clause

So Wally – Sir Walter in front of his stuck-up wife – was pissed.  He spent 13 years in the Tower of London based upon hearsay evidence.  It seems that Spain was going to fund the ouster of King James I.  One of Wally’s pals, Lord Cobham, was going to go there, pick up a ton […]

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Causation in Criminal Law

November 3, 2011

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Causation in Criminal Law

You can read here for perspective.  I’ll wait.  Go ahead. Back?  Cool. Causation is really funky.  It’s a deep topic that is driven by previous cases offering up very specific fact patterns.  They’ve been distilled into rules, but every criminal case is going to rest on the finest details of that case.  Think of Causation […]

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Mens Rea – The Evil Mind

November 2, 2011

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Mens Rea – The Evil Mind

Mens rea is Latin.  It means “the evil mind.”  (See how it fits into the broader scheme of things here.)  It doesn’t matter if you shot somebody.  There’s lots of non-criminal reasons, beyond cleansing the gene pool, to shoot someone.  Could have been an accidental discharge.  Could have mistaken him for a deer – he was, […]

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