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Criminal Justice News This Week (week of 06-22-20)

U.S. Supreme Court rules Texas death row inmate had an ineffective lawyer, orders new review. "In a 6-3 opinion, the justices said Terence Andrus had ineffective assistance from his lawyer and that it was unclear if the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals properly considered whether that could have affected his sentence."

Birmingham District Attorney Says Alabama Man Who Has Spent Over Two Decades On Death Row Should Get New Trial. “In 1998, Toforest Johnson was sentenced to die for the 1995 shooting death of an off-duty sheriff’s deputy.  Now, the city’s district attorney is advocating for a new trial."

Supreme Court Will Not Reexamine Doctrine That Shields Police In Misconduct Suits. "Amid the tumult over police brutality allegations across the country, the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to reexamine the much-criticized, modern-day legal doctrine created by judges that has shielded police and other government officials from lawsuits over their conduct."

Can Law Enforcement Seize Your Cash Without A Crime? "Civil asset forfeitures have become a source of government revenue, raising billions of dollars. It’s no surprise that the practice hurts those who have the least, especially minorities. Congress should abolish this procedure and require actual criminal conviction before property can be seized."

Chief Justice Roberts Leads Ruling Against Trump's Effort to End DACA. "Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. led the court in ruling 5-4 that the Trump administration had failed to address important factors bearing on its decision to wind down the program and that failure violated the federal law known as the Administrative Procedure Act."

An Opportune Time for Change in Our Criminal Courts.  "Rather than just reacting to this crisis with temporary fixes, we should be looking to make lasting improvements."

Guidance Issued on Lawyers' Duties Regarding Clients' Criminal Behavior. "The American Bar Association’s Model Rule of Professional Conduct 1.2(d) ('Model Rule') prohibits a lawyer from advising or assisting a client in conduct the lawyer 'knows' is criminal or fraudulent."

Which States Are Taking on Police Reform After George Floyd?. "Lawmakers in 16 states have introduced bills to improve police oversight and accountability."

Supreme Court agrees to fast-track briefs in federal death penalty case. "The case challenges the Trump administration’s plans to resume federal executions this summer."

Proposal to Alter Duty of Client Confidentiality Has Lawyers Divided on the Merits. "Some lawyers who discussed the proposal resented its interference in their relationship with clients, while others feel more of an obligation to help minimize the number of wrongful convictions....  Lawyers are divided over a proposed rule change that would require them to disclose information about wrongful incarceration of an innocent person."

To Deal With Racial Injustice, Don’t Stop With Law Enforcement: Prosecutorial Conduct Matters Too. "We will likely never see a gut-wrenching video of a prosecutor doing physical harm to a black defendant in court, but prosecutors occupy a critical role in the perpetuation of a system that so disproportionately impacts and imprisons the black community.")

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