Police Crime Scene

Proving a Case in the Ferguson Shooting

What would federal prosecutors have to prove in the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri? Some commentators have assumed that the police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, could be charged with a federal civil rights violation if he was negligent or reckless in assessing the need to use deadly force. This is not true for a […]

Police Officer

Police Misconduct Often Plays a Role in Searches and Arrests

The United States Department of Justice under Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. has filed a record number of criminal police-misconduct cases and aggressively uses civil laws to force reform at police departments across the country. Following a 3-year federal investigation, the Newark, New Jersey P.D. was mandated by the Department of Justice to overhaul its […]

DNA evidence

Eyewitness Misidentification

Eyewitness misidentification is the single greatest cause of wrongful convictions nationwide, playing a role in 72 percent of the convictions overturned through DNA testing. In case after case, DNA has proven what scientists already know-that eyewitness identification is frequently inaccurate. While eyewitness testimony can be persuasive evidence before a judge or jury, 30 years of […]

How constitutional is the conduct of your local agency?

On July 22, 2014, the United States Department of Justice announced that the Newark, New Jersey Police Department will be overhauled and will come under federal oversight from an independent monitor after the Justice Department investigation found officers have routinely violated citizen’s constitutional rights. The Justice Department conducted a 3-year investigation which, began in May […]

Retroactive Federal Drug Sentence Reductions

On July 18, 2014, The U.S. Sentencing Commission took a significant step to cut federal prison terms for drug offenses. The reform retroactively decreases the drug table set forth in U.S. Sentencing Guideline § 2(d) 1.1 by two-offense levels for all drug types. In short, it means that effective November 1, 2014 of this year […]

Rebroadcasting TV Programs Without Paying for Them Violates Federal Copyright Law

The US Supreme Court ruled that Aereo, an internet service provider that allows customers to watch broadcast TV programs on mobile devices, violates federal copyright law by retransmitting copyrighted programs without paying a copyright fee. Shortly after the service was launched, the nation’s major broadcast networks filed a lawsuit claiming Aereo illegally transmitted their programs […]

need warrant to search cell phone

Cell Phone Search requires Warrant

Illegal to obtain cell site location information without showing probable cause.  On June 11, 2014, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, as a matter of first impression, held that the Stored Communication Act, which allows the government to obtain cell site location information without showing probable cause to track a person’s location, violates […]

domestic violence

Unlawful to Purchase a Firearm for Another Person

Before a federally licensed firearms dealer may sell a gun, the would-be purchaser must provide certain personal information, show photo identification, and pass a background check. To ensure the accuracy of these submissions, a federal statute imposes criminal penalties on any person who, in connection with a firearm’s acquisition, makes false statements about “any fact […]

Synthetic Drugs

Synthetic cannabinoids, commonly known as synthetic marijuana or “spice”, are often sold in legal retail outlets as herbal “Incense” or potpourri.” They are labeled “not for human consumption” to attempt to avoid Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulatory oversight of the manufacturing process. State and federal law enforcement agencies across the country are making the […]

Child Exploitation

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). ICE places a high priority on enforcing laws that prohibit the sexual exploitation of children and investigate cases such as possession or receipt of child pornography. With the advent of the Internet, the sharing of child […]