Boston Bombing Juror May Not Have Voted Death if Family’s Wishes Known

A juror in the District of Massachusetts federal death-penalty trial of “Boston Marathon Bomber” Dzhokhar Tsarnaev says he “probably” would have voted against imposing death on Tsarnaev if he had known that some of the victims had opposed capital punishment.  Read the Boston Globe’s article here: “In Interview, Tsarnaev Juror Talks about Trial Experience”

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Vice-President Joe Biden’s Role in 90s Drug Law May Impact 2016 Presidential Bid

Vice-President Joe Biden, who in 1994 was a Senator (D-DE) and Chairperson of the Judiciary Committee, was instrumental in the Senate’s passing that year the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which created certain mandatory minimum penalties for drug offenses.  Recently, both liberals and conservatives have recognized that mandatory minimum penalties for many drug offenses are unduly harsh, arbitrary, and abused by prosecutors who are using laws intended to punish drug “king pins” to punish low-level drug dealers and addicts.  Although there was significant bi-partisan support for the Act when Congress passed it in 1994, Vice-President Biden’s detractors certainly will call on him to answer for his supporting it during any presidential bid that he may make in the 2016 election.

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US Attorney General Eric Holder on Federal Drug Law Reform

US Attorney General Eric Holder wrote an editorial in the Washington Post on federal drug sentencing reform: “Time to Tackle Unfinished Business in Criminal Justice Reform”

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Senators Re-introduce Bill Requiring Search Warrants for Emails

US Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Christopher Coons (D-DE), and Dean Heller (R-NV) re-introduced on February 12, 2015 a bill proposing the Law Enforcement Access to Date Stored Abroad Act (“LEADS Act”), which would prevent law enforcement agents from accessing any data stored in the Cloud that is more than 180 days old without a search warrant.  The US Department of Justice (“DOJ”) interprets the now-in-effect Electronic Communications Privacy Act to require a law enforcement agent to obtain a search warrant only for unopened emails not more than 180 day old; all other information, including opened emails not more than 180 days old, and both opened and unopened emails more than 180 days old, only require a subpoena.  The LEADS Act also proposes to define the parameters by which law enforcement agents may access data stored outside of the United States.  Read The Hill‘s article here: “Republican Senator Pushes Bill to Require Warrants for Emails”

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Federal Judge Back on Forensic Science Panel after DOJ Relents Earlier Position

The Honorable Jed Rakoff, and US District Court Judge in the Southern District of New York, resigned his position last Tuesday as the only member of the judiciary on the US Department of Justice‘s National Committee on Forensic Science, based on the DOJ’s refusal to discuss the committee’s recommendations about the extent to which the Government should disclose its scientific evidence to criminal defendants prior to trial.  Judge Rakoff agreed to re-join the committee just two days later, however, after the DOJ changed its position.  Newly-appointed Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates—in what appears to be her first public act of damage control—assured Judge Rakoff that those discussions were now back on the table.  Read the New York Law Journal‘s article here: “After Short Departure, Rakoff Rejoins DOJ Panel”