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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 its 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"


Attorney General Seeks to Remedy Mandatory Minimum Penalties for Low-level Drug Offenders - August 12, 2013

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US Attorney General Eric Holder has directed his ninety-four US Attorneys not to seek the draconian mandatory minimum penalties in drug cases involving alleged low-level drug offenders who have no affilitation with large-scale drug organizations or gangs.  Holder directed his US Attorneys to develop specific, locally-tailored guidelines for deciding how these cases will be prosecuted and the offenses with which those defendants will be charged. Read the Washington Post's article here: "Holder Seeks to Avert Mandatory Minimum Sentences for Some Low-level Drug Offenders"

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