In October 2010, local San Jose student Yasir Afifi found out that the FBI was secretly tracking him when he discovered a GPS device in his car. It turned out he was being investigated for about 3-6 months for terrorist activities, all of which he completely denied. On Monday, January 23, 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that this kind of investigation was illegal, and police can’t track suspects by installing GPS technology without first obtaining a warrant. As Professor Donald Tibbs from Drexel University says, “The Supreme Court’s decision is an important one because it sends a message that technological advances cannot outpace the American Constitution.” Submission Post by Charisse Domingo
Warrant needed for GPS tracking, high court says
By JESSE J. HOLLAND and PETE YOST Associated Press
AP Photo/ Photo by PAUL SAKUMA
Posted: 01/23/2012 07:30:10 AM PST
Updated: 01/23/2012 06:43:42 PM PST
WASHINGTON—In a rare defeat for law enforcement, the Supreme Court unanimously agreed on Monday to bar police from installing GPS technology to track suspects without first getting a judge’s approval. The justices made clear it wouldn’t be their final word on increasingly advanced high-tech surveillance of Americans.
Indicating they will be monitoring the growing use of such technology, five justices said they could see constitutional and privacy problems with police using many kinds of electronic surveillance for long-term tracking of citizens’ movements without warrants.
While the justices differed on legal rationales, their unanimous outcome was an unusual setback for government and police agencies grown accustomed to being given leeway in investigations in post-Sept. 11 America, including by the Supreme Court. The views of at least the five justices raised the possibility of new hurdles down the road for police who want to use high-tech surveillance of suspects, including various types of GPS technology.
The supreme court will take on anti-immigration laws in the near future, could this cause turbulence to the presidential election coming up? I think so. -Submission by Cesar Flores
WASHINGTON — In the space of a month, the Supreme Courthas thrust itself into the center of American political life, agreeing to hear three major cases that could help determine which party controls the House of Representatives and whether President Obama wins a second term.
The court announced Monday that it would decide whether Arizona was entitled to impose tough anti-immigration measures over the Obama administration’s objections. The case joined a crowded docket that already included challenges to Mr. Obama’s signature legislative achievement, the 2010 health care overhaul law, and a momentous case on how Texas will conduct its elections. Continue reading
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
THE CERTAINTY OF MEMORY HAS ITS DAY IN COURT
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
The ACLU prepares to file a law suit against Los Angles city jails. The lawsuit details many gruesome abuses in the jails by deputies. The ACLU will also call for a federal investigation of the jails, as well as the resignation of Sheriff Baca, who denies the allegations of abuse. This law suit raises questions around the effects of transferring inmates from overcrowded prisons into overcrowded jails, and what safeguards will be put in place.
LOS ANGELES — One inmate said he was forced to walk down a hallway naked after sheriff’s deputies accused him of stealing a piece of mail. They taunted him in Spanish, calling him a derogatory name for homosexuals.
Another former inmate said that after he protested that guards were harassing a mentally ill prisoner, the same deputies took him into another room, slammed his head into a wall and repeatedly punched him in the chest.
And a chaplain said he saw deputies punching an inmate until he collapsed to the ground. They then began kicking the apparently unconscious man’s head and body.
The examples are just a fraction of dozens of detailed allegations of abuse in Los Angeles County’s Men’s Central Jail and Twin Towers, according to a report that the American Civil Liberties Union Continue reading
A front page Sunday Mercury News article focusing on California’s realignment plan entitled, “California prison realignment to put more low-level offenders on streets”features the story of two ACJP members Glenn Maxwell and Brenda Valencia. The article uses their story to illustrate how expensive, and often times unnecessary, prison commitments have been in California. Both Glenn and Brenda are great examples of community members who are working hard to be great parents, and contributing members to our county. You’ll be reading more about both in time to come on ACJP!
- Glen Maxwell (Karen T. Borchers/Mercury News)
- Brenda Valencia (Karen T. Borchers/Mercury News)
Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen
As stated in a recently released document, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office announced they will change their policy regarding the consideration of collateral consequences (such as possible deportation consequences for a minor conviction) when negotiating plea agreements. The memo states, “It is not generally the duty of a prosecutor to mitigate the collateral consequences to a defendant of his or her crime. However, in those cases where the collateral consequences are significantly greater than the punishment for the crime itself, it is incumbent upon the prosecutor to consider and, if appropriate, take reasonable steps to mitigate those collateral consequences.” Continue reading
We played the following video at the Santa Clara County Public Safety Committee hearing regarding the County’s draft plan for realignment. Video produced by Jean Melesaine:
By Michelle Fei — The Obama administration’s Aug. 18 announcement of a new policy that purports to suspend deportations against immigrants without criminal convictions has sprouted a range of reactions from immigrant rights advocates, from full-fledged celebration to wary suspicion.
I can appreciate why some advocates are praising the announcement. First, it does seem true that the national outcry over the failure of immigration reform and the expansion of the deportation program known as “Secure Communities” – which requires police to share fingerprint data of all arrestees with federal immigration authorities — has prompted Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to respond with this “new” policy. It’s worth noting, however, that advocates have long sought to get ICE to actually exercise the discretionary powers it has always held. Second, fewer deportations is certainly a good thing. To the extent that this announcement can actually help the small percentage of people who could qualify for a temporary reprieve from deportation, I share the temporary sense of relief of these immigrants. No family should know the devastation of deportation. Continue reading
In landmark decision that will likely impact courts across the country, the New York Times reports on a New Jersey Supreme Court decision regarding eyewitness identifications. Post Submission by Aram James.
The New Jersey Supreme Court, acknowledging a “troubling lack of reliability in eyewitness identifications,” issued sweeping new rules on Wednesday making it easier for defendants to challenge such evidence in criminal cases.
The court said that whenever a defendant presents evidence that a witness’s identification of a suspect was influenced, by the police, for instance, a judge must hold a hearing to consider a broad range of issues. These could include police behavior, but also factors like lighting, the time that had elapsed since the crime or whether the victim felt stress at the time of the identification. Continue reading