Posts Tagged law

Double Jeopardy Protection? Maybe.

By: Maria Hibbard

Before I came to law school, I thought the right to be protected from double jeopardy, or being tried for the same crime twice, was one of the guaranteed rights of the American judicial system. If I’ve learned anything throughout my first year of law school, however, it’s that the answer to the question of whether anything is guaranteed is “possibly” or “maybe.”

Although the right to be protected from double jeopardy is preserved in the Fifth Amendment, as Andrew Cohen noted this weekend in The Atlantic, this right has frequently been eroded by precedent and the very nature of our judicial system. When the Supreme Court decided Blueford v. Arkansas last week, the right against double jeopardy became even more subject to parsing. In the original trial, Blueford was charged with capital murder, first-degree murder, manslaughter, and negligent homicide for the death of a one-year old child. When the jury returned from deliberation, the foreperson stated that although they had voted unanimously to acquit the murder charges, they were deadlocked on manslaughter and did not vote on negligent homicide.  Although the judge sent the jury back to deliberate more on the lesser charges, a mistrial was declared.

The Supreme Court had to decide whether the foreperson’s announcement of the jury’s votes to acquit were sufficient to invoke double jeopardy protection on the murder charges. The Court agreed with the state, however, saying that protection was not valid because the jury could have re-evaluated their acquittal when they were sent back to deliberate further on the lesser charges. Chief Justice Roberts writes, “It was therefore possible for Blueford’s jury to revisit the offenses of capital and first-degree murder, notwithstand­ing its earlier votes. And because of that possibility, the foreperson’s report prior to the end of deliberations lacked the finality necessary to amount to an acquittal on those offenses…” In his analysis, Cohen criticizes the majority’s use of a hypothetical (not unlike the “what if” Socratic questions of my law school professors), noting the irony in the fact that although Blueford had heard the jury acquit him of the murder charges in open court, in his new trial (still yet to come) another jury could possibly still find him guilty.

What does this case mean for public defenders and appellate advocates? There’s no double jeopardy protection in a mistrial, even if the jury’s vote to acquit is stated in court. Although the Fifth Amendment seems to guarantee double jeopardy protection for every defendant, the only thing that seems to be sure is that it “depends on the circumstances.”

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Here’s How to Maximize Your Summer Public Interest Experience!

by Kristen Pavón

Yesterday, we hosted our Summer Success: Getting the Most from Your Summer Public Interest Experience webinar. Our presenters, Deb Ellis, the former Assistant Dean for Public Service at NYU School of Law, and Lindsay M. Harris, the EJW fellow and Immigration Staff Attorney at Tahirih Justice Center, provided some great tips on how interns/externs/volunteers can maximize their summers. If you were “there,” thanks for attending! 🙂

In case you missed it, the webinar recording should be available in the next week or so. In the meantime, here are just a few of the highlights:

  • Act as though your summer position is an extended interview.
  • Be realistic about your expectations for feedback (meaning, don’t expect to get comments and notes on every single assignment).
  • Make your supervisor your mentor.
  • Be indispensable and take advantage of all learning opportunities (some organizations take note of attendance and non-attendance).
  • Keep track of your summer work product.
  • If you’re in a new city for the summer, have fun! (Check out PSLawNet’s Having Fun on the Cheap page for suggestions!)

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Job Advice: Remember to Water the Plants

by Kristen Pavón

In the May 21, 2012 issue of Fortune, Dupont CEO Ellen Kullman said the best advice she received was from her father.

“My dad started and ran a landscaping business. He put me to work watering plants for my grandmother and for our house. His mantra was, ‘If you don’t water it, it’s going to die.’ That was the job I hated most: pouring water on those darn flowers. But my mother and my grandmother had the most beautiful gardens in town.

For Kullman, her father’s advice translated into “investing yourself in what you’re building in order for it to grow.”

For me, the “water the plants” advice also has to do with patience, and is especially relevant in the slowed public interest job market. Just as lovely flowers don’t grow over night, your dream public interest job may not be available the day you graduate.

However, if you stay relevant, work hard, persevere, and create opportunities to build your credibility and skills, you’ll eventually land where you want to be [or, to keep the analogy going — you’ll grow your own strong public interest law flower… or something like that].

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Job o’ the Day: Constitutional Litigation at Institute for Justice in Miami, FL!

Tired of working on cases you don’t believe in?  Long to do something meaningful with your law degree?  Love our Constitution and its founding principles?  The Institute for Justice (www.IJ.org), the nation’s leading libertarian public interest law firm, is seeking an experienced litigator for its Florida Chapter located in downtown Miami.  With a 20-year track record of accomplishments, including five cases at the U.S. Supreme Court, IJ is the premier law firm working to vindicate the liberties of all Floridians.

The constitutional litigator’s primary responsibility will be litigating cases in the areas of economic liberty, free speech, private property rights and school choice in both state and federal courts in Florida.

Learn how to apply at PSLawNet!

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New Provisions Added to Alabama’s Controversial Immigration Law

From Politico:

The Alabama legislature approved Wednesday changes to the state’s controversial immigration law – keeping key portions intact while adding a new provision to publish the names of undocumented immigrants who appear in court, regardless of the trial’s outcome, according to reports.

The state’s House and Senate approved changes to the law that would require the Department of Homeland Security to post a list of undocumented immigrants who appeared in court for violations of state law, even if they are not eventually convicted of a crime, reports the Montgomery Advertiser.

The bill kept in place the immigration measure that has generated the most controversy: the requirement that police verify the immigration status of anyone they suspect of being in the country illegally, according to Reuters. . . .

The changes in the immigration law are partly due to an embarrassing incident in which a German Mercedes Benz executive was detained after failing to show proof of his immigration status – he was later released after the governor’s office intervened.

To address this, an amendment passed Wednesday would allow individuals to use a credit card or a voter ID to prove residency status if the person does not have their state driver’s license handy.

Read more here.

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Job o’ the Day: Contract Attorney at Legal Services of Northern California in Sacramento!

Founded in 1956, Legal Services of Northern California (LSNC) provides high quality civil legal assistance to the poor, elderly, and people with disabilities in 23 northern California counties.  The Sargent Shriver Civil Counsel Act project addresses the enormous imbalance of representation in judicial evictions by providing representation to tenant litigants. LSNC will operate one of seven pilot projects funded through the Act.  Attorneys working with the Sacramento project will provide direct representation to defendants  in eviction proceedings in Sacramento County courts.

Under supervision of the Supervising Attorney, will participate in all aspects of litigation including, but not limited to: client interviews, factual investigation, legal research, discovery, preparation of legal documents, negotiations, trials, and appellate work in both State and Federal Courts; provide legal advice to individual clients, and general legal information to eligible community groups as well as to the public in general.

Interested? Find out how to apply at PSLawNet!

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Star Wars Director Proposes Affordable Housing Plan?

From CNNMoney:

 The film emperor may be striking back. For 25 years, filmmaker George Lucas tried to persuade his Marin County, Calif., neighbors to let him build a digital production studio on his ranch there, but the area’s residents thwarted the plan.

So Lucas has come up with an alternative for his Grady Ranch property: To build low-income housing on it.

In a letter posted online Lucasfilmwrote, “It is with great sadness that Skywalker Properties has decided to pull its application to build a studio facility.

Instead, the maker of some of the biggest box office successes of all time, including the “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones” franchises, intends to sell the property to the Marin Community Foundation (MCF), a non-profit that has already funded more than 2,500 units of affordable housing and will explore options for developing Grady Ranch.

Lucas had applied to the county planning commission for permits to build a 260,000 square-foot compound that would be used as a digital media production studio. The company claimed the facilities would create about 600 high-paying jobs.

“The level of bitterness and anger expressed by the homeowners in Lucas Valley has convinced us that, even if we were to spend more time and acquire the necessary approvals, we would not be able to maintain a constructive relationship with our neighbors,” Lucasfilm said in its statement. . . .

It may seem as if the affordable housing project is a way for Lucas to stick it to his opposition, but Tom Peters, the CEO of the Marin County Foundation disagrees. “I know Lucas and checked with him on that point personally and directly. It was essential that I was convinced that it was not done out of spite. I would not have accepted the project if I thought it was,” he said.

Read the rest here.

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