Criminal Justice Reform

When Every Defendant is a Nail…

When Every Defendant is a Nail… every solution is a harsh prison sentence. It’s good to see that criminal justice reform has become a topic of the debate, and that that debate isn’t about how many more mandatory minimum sentences we can impose, but, rather, how we can return some sanity to the system. And…

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Unions and Criminal Justice Reform

The problems confronting American policing and interactions with citizens, particularly African-American citizens, are multifaceted. Briefly, they can be described in no particular order as a consequence of: The proliferation of crimes The broken windows theory Institutional racism Social and economic distress Militarization of the police Into that mix, throw police labor relations: a major proponent…

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U.S. prison population is larger than any other country

There’s still one thing that America excels at: putting human beings in cages. Thanks to a dug war that knows no bounds, and very harsh-on-crime politics in which each party attempts to see who can be more punitive, the U.S imprisons a larger proportion and a larger absolute number of people an any other country…

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Life, the Other Death Penalty

Yesterday I posted about the life long consequences early mistakes and, yes, crimes can have for young people convicted. In that post, I was talking primarily about those convicted of non-violent and drug offenses. This New York Times article shows how slow criminal justice reform is to take root, even when the Supreme Court speaks.…

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Rethinking our Criminal Justice System

Years ago I had a client, the son of two caring parents who themselves had done well. Upper middle class professionals. The son wasn’t a bad kid. Incredibly bright, he was socially awkward and “lacked direction” as the phrase goes. He was also not street smart, which probably was a consequence of his awkwardness. He…

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DWIs: For Every Nail, A Hammer?

Governor McCrory recently created a new Impaired Driving Task Force, including judges, the executive director of North Carolina’s chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), and law enforcement and lawyers. The task force is part of an effort to reform and strengthen North Carolina’s Driving While Impaired laws, especially in light of new NHTSA recommendations…

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Why is video so important in criminal investigations?

Scott Greenfield, a New York criminal defense lawyer, comments on a recent case involving allegations of police brutality by law enforcement officers in New Jersey. Following claims that troopers in New Jersey were racial profiling, the State Highway Patrol required all troopers to maintain and activate dashcams to record any police enforcement encounters with citizens.…

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Expanding and Reforming North Carolina’s Grand Jury System

A criminal case in North Carolina normally starts in District Court where, after a period of time and one or more “probable cause” dates at which a probable cause hearing is almost never held (at least in Wake County), the case is sent to a grand jury. In the meantime, the North Carolina grand jury…

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Fixing Our Broken Driving License Regime

North Carolina recognizes a privilege, not a right, to drive on its roads. This is true of most states, but in North Carolina the failure to be properly licensed can create significant hardships to the unsuspecting. For instance, I’ve seen people walk into court and plead guilty to a single instance of a Driving While…

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The Urge to Punish – Aaron Swartz, RIP

Aaron Swartz committed suicide this past weekend. I did not know Aaron Swartz. You probably did not know Aaron Swartz. But we’ve all benefited from his brilliant mind. When Aaron was 14, he developed the protocol called Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary (RSS), which is used by individuals and companies throughout the web…

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