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Department of Justice Expanding Clemency Criteria - April 23, 2014

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US Attorney General Eric Holder announced today that the US Department of Justice ("DOJ") is expanding the criteria that it will use to recommend pardons and commutations of sentences to President Obama, and it will assign additional attorneys to review clemency petitions.  The expanded criteria open non-violent, non-gang related, low-level drug offenders who have served ten years in prison, or who would have received more lenient sentences today, to meaningful clemency review.  See the DOJ press release here: Justice Department Expands Executive Clemency Criteria and Prepare for Increase in Eligible Petitions


US Sentencing Commission Reduces Recommended Sentences for Drug Trafficking Offenses - April 10, 2014

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The US Sentencing Commission voted today to reduce the recommended sentences for most drug trafficking offenses.  The commission's recommendation will be submitted to the US Senate and the US House of Representatives on May 14, 2014 for their approval, and unless Congress votes to reject the amendments, they will become effective on November 1, 2014.  See the commission's press relese here: U.S. Sentencing Commission Votes to Reduce Drug Trafficking Sentences


Forced Subpoena Compliance for Foreign Bank Records Not a Fifth Amendment Violation - December 25, 2013

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The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has upheld a contempt order issued by the US District Court for the Eastern Disrict of New York against an account holder in a foreign bank for his refusal to disclose information required to be maintained by financial institutions under the Bank Secrecy Act.  The district and circuit courts relied upon the "required records" exception to the privilege against self-incrimination. Read the New York Law Journal's article here: "Circuit Confirms Contempt Order for Failure to Produce Records"  


The Pardon Process Trivialized - December 22, 2013

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Politicians' granting pardons primarily during the holiday season tends to trivialize the process by portraying clemency as a gift rather than a duty of the federal and state executive branches.  Read the Grits for Breakfast blog here: "Christmas Clemency Trivializes Pardon Process"


Indigents in NYC Get Public Defenders in Immigration Court - November 30, 2013

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The Sixth Amendment to the US Constitution only extends a person's right to the assistance of counsel to criminal cases.  However, the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project, funded by various sources in New York City and launched earlier this month, provides indigent immigrants who are facing removal proceedings in the Executive Office for Immigration Review or "Immigration Court" with public defenders from the Bronx Defenders and Brooklyn Defender Services.  Read NPR's article here: "New Pilot Program Gives Immigrant Detainees Public Defenders"

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