New York Times: The Certainty of Memory Has Its Day in Court

According to the Innocence Project, 75% of post-conviction DNA exoneration cases cited witness misidentification testimony as a factor, making it the leading cause of wrongful convictions in the United States.  This month, the Supreme Court heard the first of oral arguments in a case that questions witness testimony as the “gold standard” of criminal prosecution.  Submission post by Charisse Domingo

by Laura Beil
New York Times
November 28, 2011

Witness testimony has been the gold standard of the criminal justice system, revered in courtrooms and crime dramas as the evidence that clinches a case.

Yet scientists have long cautioned that the brain is not a filing cabinet, storing memories in a way that they can be pulled out, consulted and returned intact. Memory is not so much a record of the past as a rough sketch that can be modified even by the simple act of telling the story.

For scientists, memory has been on trial for decades, and courts and public opinion are only now catching up with the verdict. It has come as little surprise to researchers that about 75 percent of DNA-based exonerations have come in cases where witnesses got it wrong. Continue reading

Arizonification vs. Santaclarification of enforcement policies

Members of the Probation Department of Santa Clara County question an inmate during... (Gary Reyes)

The following piece entitled On Crime Policy, Takes a cutting edge — some say risk — approach in the Mercury News highlights Santa Clara counties strategies around realignment and immigration detainers — both of which were influenced by community input.

By Tracey Kaplan, Mercury News: Long overshadowed by freethinking San Francisco, Berkeley and now protest-roiled Oakland, Santa Clara County has been eclipsing its lefty neighbors lately — with criminal justice policies that critics blast as risky but supporters call cutting-edge.

From its controversial stand against a federal policy on detaining jailed illegal immigrants to its open-arms, welcome-home stance toward newly freed state prisoners, Santa Clara County has struck the kind of permissive chord that puts Fox News pundits in a lather. Continue reading

City of Morgan Hill Settles in Police Misconduct Case: Family Wins

A small victory for a Morgan Hill family who filed a complaint against the local police department for: Entering the home without a warrant or cause, conducting an illegal search, making a false arrest, violating civil rights, and displaying negligence and improper training. The City has awarded the family a $75,000 settlement. The Morgan Hill Police Department has two more lawsuits pending against it.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011
By Michael Moore – The Morgan Hill Times

The city of Morgan Hill paid a $75,000 settlement to a resident who accused local police officers of misconduct.

Maria Jesus Belasquez, Rudy Martinez and Rudy Belasquez Martinez, Jr., filed a complaint against Morgan Hill police in November 2010. The federal lawsuit accused officers of entering their home without a warrant and without cause, illegal search, false arrest, violation of civil rights, negligence and improper training… Continue reading

A Day in a California Court — Record Clearance

The following blog post by Cecelia Chavez is part of an ongoing series of ACJP participants writing about observing court sessions. Cecelia works with the ACJP in East San Jose, and is currently a Criminal Justice Studies Major at San Jose State.

The Record Clearance Project was a very interesting court session to observe. The purpose of this program was for individuals who had felony convictions have the opportunity to get their records cleared or reduce their felony convictions to misdemeanors. It was an opportunity given to the defendants to plea their situation in front of Judge Arroyo. Each defendant explained the circumstance in which they were at the time they received the felony conviction and how they have moved on and bettered their lives. It was important for these individuals to have their records cleared because with a felony conviction in their records they are limited in the job industry. Many jobs now ask in their applications whether or not the person applying has been ever convicted of a felony, although it should not influence the employers’ decision it greatly does. With the records cleared or charges reduced each individual has a wider range of job opportunities and a second chance for a better life. Continue reading

San Jose Mercury News: Some living in Santee neighborhood allege security guards roughing up residents

About two months ago, Isaac Gomez, Victor Rivera, and their family came to ACJP raising the issue about the local security company, Admiral, who has been harassing many people in their neighborhood including using eviction as an intimidation tactic.  Victor himself was beaten up by security and their family served an eviction notice.  Their family chose to fight back, and  just last week, their family beat the eviction defense!  Here is their story featured in the Mercury News. 

San Jose: Some living in Santee neighborhood allege security guards roughing up residents

By Sean Webby
Photo by Nhat Meyer
San Jose Mercury News

Almost 15 years after a San Jose neighborhood was so afflicted by street gangs that a judge ordered landlords to hire their own private security force, some residents say it’s the court-mandated armed guards who are a threat.

Five teens, several adults who live in the Santee area and a gang suppression worker told this newspaper that guards from Concord-based Admiral Security have harassed and assaulted them. Continue reading

San Jose Mercury News: Stanford Law Professors Submit Proposed Initiative to Limit Three Strikes Law

The Stanford Law School’s Three Strikes Project has been successful in overturning life sentences where the third strike was imposed on non-violent felonies.  This has resulted in changed lives — from the defendants now freed to the families that have supported them. Now, Stanford law professors are trying to take it on a statewide level. Submission post by Charisse Domingo

San Jose Mercury News: Stanford Law Professors Submit Proposed Initiative to Limit Three Strikes Law

by Tracey Kaplan, San Jose Mercury News

An effort to limit California’s tough Three Strikes Law is gaining momentum, with a proposed ballot initiative that would reserve the toughest penalty — 25 years to life — for the baddest of the bad, including murderers, rapists and child molesters.

The initiative, now under state legal review, was carefully crafted by a group of Stanford University law professors and stops far short of the extensive changes proposed under a previous reform measure that narrowly failed in 2004.

Continue reading