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Category Archives: Courts

Report – Secret Origins of Evidence in US Criminal Cases

Human Rights Watch Report – Secret Origins of Evidence in US Criminal Cases

“In the United States today, a growing body of evidence suggests that the federal government is deliberately concealing methods used by intelligence or law enforcement agencies to identify or investigate suspects—including methods that may be illegal. It does so by creating a different story about how agents discovered the information, and as a result, people may be imprisoned without ever knowing enough to challenge the potentially rights-violating origins of the cases against them. Through a practice known as “parallel construction,” an official who wishes to keep an investigative activity hidden from courts and defendants—and ultimately from the public—can simply go through the motions of re-discovering evidence in some other way. For example, if the government learned of a suspected immigration-related offense by a person in Dallas, Texas, through a surveillance program it wished to keep secret, it could ask a Dallas police officer to follow the person’s car until she committed a traffic violation, then pull her over and start questioning her—and later pretend this traffic stop was how the investigation in her case started…This report recommends that the US executive branch prohibit all government departments and agencies from engaging in or contributing to parallel construction efforts, and disclose all policies related to the concealment of sources or evidence. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (“ODNI”) should also publicly and fully disclose all policies and legal interpretations of the intelligence agencies that may affect criminal defendants or others involved in proceedings before US courts or tribunals. Additionally, the US Congress should require the disclosure to criminal defendants of complete information about the origins of the investigations in their cases, with special procedures as necessary to address classified information or information whose disclosure may jeopardize the safety of identifiable human informants…”

Two new resources – online dispute resolution

National Center for State Courts – “In case you haven’t seen them already, the Joint Technology Committee (JTC) published two resource bulletins last month on the topic of Online Dispute Resolution (ODR). These papers provide excellent insight into how courts are leveraging technology to expand services and provide more timely and cost effective ways for… Continue Reading

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing of Federal Drug Offenses

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing of Federal Drug Offenses – CRS report via FAS – Charles Doyle, Senior Specialist in American Public Law, January 11, 2018: “As a general rule, federal judges must impose a minimum term of imprisonment upon defendants convicted of various controlled substance (drug) offenses and drug-related offenses. The severity of those sentences depends… Continue Reading

Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s sneaky attack on partisan gerrymandering is beginning to pay dividends

Slate – Mark Joseph Stern: “On Tuesday, a federal district court made history by striking down North Carolina’s congressional map. The decision marks the first time a court has invalidated a congressional redistricting scheme as illegally gerrymandering along partisan lines. It arrives at a critical moment for the development of a legal theory that requires… Continue Reading

Online Publication of Court Decisions in Europe

Opijnen, Marc van and Peruginelli, Ginevra and Kefali, Eleni and Palmirani, Monica, Online Publication of Court Decisions in Europe (October 16, 2017). Legal Information Management, 17 (2017), pp. 136–145; doi:10.1017/S1472669617000299. Available at SSRN: – “Although nowadays most courts publish decisions on the internet, substantial differences exist between European countries regarding such publication. These differences not… Continue Reading

Legal Boot Camp for New Judges in New York

NYT – “Each new year, about 100 freshly sworn-in New York State judges get robe fittings, courthouse assignments, chambers and staff members as they prepare to take the bench. But there is one thing these new jurists lack: judicial experience. So the state sends them to “Judge School,” a four-day judicial boot camp offered the… Continue Reading

New Database to Research International Institutional Law: Oxford International Organizations

Posting by Sherry Xin Chen: “Oxford University Press (OUP) has just released a new database specialized in international institutional law, Oxford International Organizations (OXIO). OXIO is “the first of its kind” to aid users in their research and understanding of the “acts and practices of international organizations”, an integral part of public international law. OXIO… Continue Reading

Immigration Court Backlog Tops 650,000

“During the first two months of FY 2018, the Immigration Court number of pending cases climbed by an additional 30,000. According to the latest case-by-case court records, the backlog at the end of November 2017 had reached 658,728, up from 629,051 at the end of September 2017. Despite the hiring of many additional immigration judges,… Continue Reading

Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary

The Chief Justice’s 2017 Year-End Report – Chief Justice John Roberts: “…We have a new challenge in the coming year. Events in recent months have illuminated the depth of the problem of sexual harassment in the workplace, and events in the past few weeks have made clear that the judicial branch is not immune. The judiciary… Continue Reading

Crowdsourcing accurately and robustly predicts Supreme Court decisions

Crowdsourcing accurately and robustly predicts Supreme Court decisions. Daniel Martin Katz, Michael James Bommarito II, Josh Blackman. arXiv:1712.03846 [physics.soc-ph] “Scholars have increasingly investigated “crowdsourcing” as an alternative to expert-based judgment or purely data-driven approaches to predicting the future. Under certain conditions, scholars have found that crowdsourcing can outperform these other approaches. However, despite interest in… Continue Reading

Supreme Court and Law Enforcement Access to Cell Phone Location Data

EFF: “Protecting the highly personal location data stored on or generated by digital devices is one of the 21st century’s most important privacy issues. In 2017, the Supreme Court finally took on the question of how law enforcement can get ahold of this sensitive information…EFF filed briefs both encouraging the court to take the case… Continue Reading

Paper – A Logic for Statutes

Lawsky, Sarah B., A Logic for Statutes (December 14, 2017). Florida Tax Review, Forthcoming; Northwestern Public Law Research Paper No. 17-28. Available at SSRN: “Case-based reasoning is, without question, a puzzle. When students are taught to “think like lawyers” in their first year of law school, they are taught case-based common-law reasoning. Books on… Continue Reading