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United States: Court Enjoins Florida Law Requiring Welfare Recipients to Take Drug Tests

(Nov. 9, 2011) The United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida has preliminarily enjoined a Florida law that required all applicants for certain types of government assistance to submit to drug testing. The court ruled that the law likely violates the right under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to be […]

United States: New Jersey Supreme Court Revises Test for Admissibility of Eyewitness Identifications

(Sept. 15, 2011) In an August 24, 2011, ruling, State v. Henderson, the New Jersey Supreme Court revised the state's test for evaluating the trustworthiness and admissibility of eyewitness identifications in criminal proceedings. The due process clauses of the United States and New Jersey constitutions require evidence used in criminal trials to be reliable. In […]

United States: Supreme Court Enjoins Streaming Broadcast of Federal Trial

(Mar. 9, 2010) On January 13, 2010, the Supreme Court of the United States enjoined a federal district court order that would have permitted the broadcast of a trial via streaming audio and video to several federal courthouses around the country. The trial concerns Proposition 8, a ballot proposition adopted in November 2008 that amended […]

United States: Supreme Court Rules Right to Public Trial Includes Jury Selection Phase

(Mar. 9, 2010) On January 19, 2010, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that a criminal defendant's right to a public trial under the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution extends to the jury selection process. During petitioner Eric Presley's trial in a Georgia state court for cocaine trafficking, the trial court […]

United States: President Obama Signs Executive Order Streamlining Declassification of Government Information

(Jan. 25, 2010) On December 29, 2009, President Barack Obama issued an executive order intended to allow researchers to gain access more quickly to formerly classified national security information. Executive Order 13,526, “Classified National Security Information,” makes several changes to make information that should no longer be classified more readily available. These include: 1) Establishing […]

United States: Federal Court Says Police Use of Taser Can Constitute Excessive Force

(Jan. 22, 2010) A federal appeals court has held that police use of a taser gun on a criminal suspect can constitute an unconstitutionally excessive use of force in some circumstances. Appellant Brian McPherson, a police officer for the city of Coronado, California, stopped appellee Carl Bryan for not wearing his seat belt while driving. […]

United States: Court Rules Fair Housing Act Protects Condominium Residents from Religious Discrimination

(Dec. 17, 2009) A U.S. federal appellate court has ruled that the Fair Housing Act (FHA) protects from religious discrimination not only purchasers of a home at the time of sale, but also existing residents of a condominium building who experience discrimination post-sale. The case involved alleged religious discrimination by a condominium association and its […]

United States: Supreme Court Addresses Ineffective Assistance of Counsel in Death Penalty Case

(Dec. 17, 2009) The United States Supreme Court has overturned a convicted murderer's death sentence, ruling that his counsel's failure to investigate the defendant's background prior to the penalty phase of his trial fell below an objective standard of reasonableness, and that, had the judge and jury learned of the defendant's background, he might not […]

United States: Appellate Court Allows Global Warning Lawsuit by Katrina Victims to Proceed

(Nov. 17, 2009) A U.S. federal appellate court has ruled that a lawsuit by victims of Hurricane Katrina against energy and chemical companies, for contributing to global warming and thus increasing the damages from the hurricane, may proceed in federal court. Several property owners along the Mississippi Gulf Coast filed a class action lawsuit against […]

United States: Supreme Court Says Federal Courts Should Not Ignore Challenges to a Prisoner's Execution

(Oct. 26, 2009) The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that in a habeas corpus case challenging a prisoner's execution, a federal appellate court should allow the prisoner's arguments to be considered before ruling that a state may execute him. An Indiana jury convicted Joseph Corcoran of four counts of murder, and he was sentenced to […]