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Criminal Justice News This Week (week of 04-19-20)

When Court Moves Online, Do Dress Codes Still Matter? "The legal profession is rooted in tradition, but social distancing is upending old norms. One judge in Broward County, Fla., asked lawyers to keep it professional during videoconferencing calls."

The Supreme Court Will Hear Arguments by Phone. The Public Can Listen In. "For the first time, the nation’s highest court will open a live audio feed as it hears arguments in 10 sets of cases."

US Supreme Court Relaxes Paper Filing Rules Amid Coronavirus Outbreak. "The U.S. solicitor general's office said it has been 'endeavoring to minimize risks to the health and safety of our personnel responsible for the filing and service of paper copies.'"

Longtime federal judge George C. Smith dies.  “George Smith died Wednesday morning at 84, surrounded by family, at OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital, his son, Geoffrey Smith, said Wednesday.”

Judge: Flawed bite mark evidence used in wrongful conviction. "During closing arguments at trial, the prosecution conceded it couldn’t convict Sheila Denton of murder without bite mark testimony given by a forensic dentist."

Fifth inmate dies of coronavirus at Elkton federal prison in Ohio. "Officials said a fifth inmate died at Federal Correctional Institution Elkton as more prisoners and staff members test positive for the coronavirus." 

Ohio prisoners with confirmed coronavirus cases skyrockets overnight as state increases inmate testing. "Ohio officials on Wednesday reported that 272 state prisoners have tested positive for the coronavirus, an increase of 122 cases in a single day."

Ohio officials defied judge, held inmate with acute coronavirus risk, lawyer says. "After 12 years in prison, Christopher Smith was on the cusp of freedom late last week, just days after a staff member at his Toledo prison tested positive for COVID-19."

More than 1,300 inmates test positive for coronavirus in Ohio. "More than 1,300 inmates have tested positive for coronavirus at three facilities in Ohio, officials said. Mass testing is ongoing at the three facilities housing the prisoners: The Marion Correctional Institution, Pickaway Correctional Institution and Franklin Medical Center. Prison officials are isolating inmates and using sanitation crews to disinfect common areas, said spokeswoman JoEllen Smith of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. So far, Marion has had 1,057 positive cases, Pickaway 202 and Franklin 101. Inmates who test positive are separated from the general public, Smith said Saturday."

Advocates Say Ohio's Governor Is Failing To Protect Prisoners From Coronavirus. "Governor Mike DeWine, critics say, 'is risking turning low-level prison sentences into death sentences.'”

Man With Innocence Claim Is First To Die Of COVID-19 In Pennsylvania Prisons. "The Pennsylvania Innocence Project was seeking the exoneration of Rudolph Sutton when he died on April 8 from complications related to COVID-19."

Lawyering in the Time of Coronavirus: Novel Confidentiality Concerns. "While confidentiality and the associated evidentiary protections (and the danger of waiver) should always be top-of-mind, during this unprecedented time of coronavirus and remote-working, lawyers—and clients—should be especially sensitive to maintaining these essential protections."

“How Do I Defend People Now?”. "Public defenders rely on in-person, confidential meetings with clients. They say COVID-19 makes their jobs nearly impossible."

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