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Criminal Justice News This Week (week of 06-08-20)

Resuming criminal jury trials would be 'reckless and irresponsible,' NACDL says regarding COVID-19. "Resuming criminal jury trials would be “reckless and irresponsible” given the risk of transmission of the new coronavirus and the burdens on defendants’ constitutional rights, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers said in a report released Thursday. 'Given the nature of the disease and the manner of transmission, court proceedings, especially jury trials, present a grave risk to all participants, including the public which has a fundamental right to attend,' the NACDL said in the report. A press release is here. The report said a defendant’s ability to get a jury from a fair cross section of the community would be 'sharply curtailed' during the COVID-19 pandemic."

Pandemic Bans on Public Gatherings and the First Amendment. "In this edition of his Civil Rights and Civil Liberties column, Christopher Dunn discusses cases that illustrate the obvious: Balancing the fundamental constitutional interests implicated by coronavirus-based public-gathering bans is extraordinarily difficult and extraordinarily important."

Qualified Immunity, Jurisdiction Play Pivotal Roles in Civil Lawsuits Over Alleged Police Violence. "'If you've gotten those lined up properly, you've just taken your case from a 50/50 chance of winning to a 90/10 success rate,' said Delray Beach attorney Anthony Russo."

How the Supreme Court Enables Police Excessive Force.  ("In this edition of his Section 1983 Litigation column, Martin A. Schwartz writes: The Supreme Court's jurisprudence is so heavily tilted in favor of police officers and municipalities sued under §1983 that excessive force claimants often do not have a realistic chance of recovery."

Supreme Court asked to reconsider immunity available to police accused of brutality. "As protests around the country continue over the death of George Floyd, the Supreme Court is examining a form of immunity that has shielded police from lawsuits about excessive force and other government officials for alleged civil rights violations."

Why So Many Police Are Handling the Protests Wrong. "Disproportionate use of force can turn a peaceful protest violent, research shows."

Police are using protests as an excuse to unleash new surveillance tech. "Experts fear a severe threat to free speech posed by drones and other novel surveillance tools"

Minnesota Announces Civil Rights Investigation Into Minneapolis Police Department. "Minnesota governor Tim Walz announced a state civil rights investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department Tuesday in response to the police killing of George Floyd, the 46-year-old black Minneapolis man whose death last week sparked protests and riots across the nation."

When CARES Act Aid Triggers Criminal Liability. "Unprecedented in size and scope, the CARES Act makes available over $2 trillion in economic aid. But the governmental nature of CARES Act assistance could trigger liability under a number of statutes."

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