the law

Acclaimed Attorney Investigates Dangers of a Justice System With No Juries in ‘The Vanishing Trial’

Robert Katzberg

At the time of my first trial, however, “sink or swim” was the reality, and I accepted it unquestioningly. Accordingly, I was assigned a veritable “slam dunk” case involving an undercover drug “buy and bust” with two defendants, the brothers Calvin and Reginald Smith. All I had to do was call the undercover narcotics agent, have him testify to his dealings with the defendants at their meeting in a JFK Airport hotel, introduce into evidence the drugs the defendants had given him, and then call a government chemist to testify that the drugs seized were indeed illegal narcotic substances.

Why America Works

Jim Jaffe

It is true that Congress enacts few new laws, but a census of legislation action is hardly a measure of government efficacy.  It may merely indicate that we’re talking a pause as we try to come up with a majoritarian position on a number of complex issues ranging from immigration to climate change.  There’s no glory in acting quickly but imprudently, and the main lesson of Obamacare is that making big changes with the slimmest of majorities throws sand in the gears until  we reach an equilibrium point where a substantial majority of voters agree with the outcome.

Documentary Sheds New Light on the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas Controversy

Karen Wright

Anita begins with the lead-up to the hearing and is careful to present Hill as a strong, beautiful, bright woman, already an accomplished lawyer in her 20s, with deep-rooted values and a desire to do the right thing. Despite her allegations, Thomas' nomination was confirmed and it is that end that unequivocally justifies the rest of the film because no matter the viewer’s perspective on Thomas, or the alleged abuse, the harassment becomes a sub-plot to a tale about a young heroine fighting to change her world.

Recent Court Ruling In China Sparks Debates Over Labor Camps

Zhao Yinan

For Tang Hui, who was once put behind bars under the controversial re-education through labor system, the ruling by a Hunan court on Monday is a case of justice done. But some lawyers and legal experts believe the decision signals that the controversial penalty system, in place since 1957 and commonly known as laojiao, which can confine people for up to four years without an open trial, is coming to an end.

How the Zimmerman Jury Failed Us

Lawrence D. Bobo

A jury in Florida failed us. We have not seen a moral failure this grave since a similarly all-white jury in Simi Valley, Calif., in 1992 acquitted the four LAPD officers who beat Rodney King. Writing in the same year as that ill-fated verdict, the distinguished civil rights lawyer Derrick Bell declared that "racism is an integral, permanent and indestructible component of this society." In most circumstances, I treat this declaration as a foil: a claim to be slowly picked apart as, at best, too easy and, at worst, deeply unfair and wrong. Not today.

How Will an All-Female Jury Affect the Outcome of the Zimmerman Trial?

Earl Ofari Hutchinson

The speculation has been nonstop over whether an all-female jury is a good or bad thing for accused Trayvon Martin shooter George Zimmerman. There is no consensus on this. But the view of women jurors in major case trials is rife with myths, stereotypes, and preconceptions. Researchers have found that in the decades before and even after the Supreme Court ruling in 1979 that knocked out biased exclusions of jurors based on gender, there’s still the deeply embedded notion that women jurors are different than men in that they are more easily swayed by emotions.

The Central Park Five’s Korey Wise Discusses the Wrongful Conviction

Mea Ashley

In 1989, Wise and four other young black and Latino teenagers were convicted of raping and beating a white investment banker in Central Park.  The media called her the Central Park Jogger and the accused the Central Park Five. No evidence linked them to the crime except for their confessions, which came after relentless hours of police interrogation. They recanted shortly afterwards, but those statements were still enough to send them all to jail. .Last year, a decade after an inmate named Matias Reyes confessed to the crime, resulting in all five of the boys’ exoneration, Wise, who went free after 13 years, is now suing the city for wrongful imprisonment.

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