Ipso Facto

20131018 frozenassets photocom95034978 150Criminal forfeitures are a key part of the federal government’s efforts to prosecute crime by limiting a defendant’s ability to fight the charges. The pretrial restraining orders enhance the government’s ability to get either a guilty plea or a guilty verdict.

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court took up the issue. The case arises from the common practice of the government freezing the assets of an indicted criminal defendant, who needs the assets to hire a lawyer.

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Panic Street Lawyer: Meet me in health

Sunday, 13 October 2013 06:00 AM Written by

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I watched and listened to some amazing news features on television this week (and if you missed them, the internet provides you with opportunities to now catch those features at a convenient date, time, place, and format). Of course, the word “amazing” is value-neutral: both good and bad television can startle and stun.

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87769643.jp20131011 courtroom photocom150The U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last week that three men, two from Pennsylvania and one from New Jersey, sentenced as teenagers to life in prison without parole will have an opportunity to convince federal judges they should be resentenced.

The men, convicted of murder in New Jersey, Philadelphia and Allegheny County and sentenced to life in prison without parole, argued that the high court's decision in Miller v. Alabama is retroactive.

The cases are before the court as successive petitions for habeas corpus. In order for the court to hear such petitions the petitioner must apply for certification. Certification will be granted if the petitioner makes a prima facie showing that the claim relies on "a new rule of constitutional law, made retroactive to cases on collateral review by the Supreme Court."

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Panic Street Lawyer: Can't find a better plan

Sunday, 06 October 2013 06:00 AM Written by

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I spent most of my week dealing with all of the frustrating things associated with relocation of a law firm office. That still made it a better week than the 7-day period the Social Security Administration is having.

On Tuesday October 1, the SSA was one the agencies whose operations were affected by the partial shutdown of the federal government. SSA had to develop a contingency plan to continue activities as of that date, because a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives could not come up with a better plan for stopping the rollout of the Affordable Care Act (a/k/a Obamacare) than to cause a lapse in appropriations.

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Justice Reinvestment is sputtering in Ohio. The two-year-old plan to reduce Ohio’s prison inmate population is not having the hoped-for impact. The number of prisoners behind bars is expected to spike.

Gary Mohr, director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, said the state prisons’ already high population of 50,000 could soar to 52,000 in two years and top 53,000 in six years. The population numbers are in contrast to rosy projections from 2011 when lawmakers passed the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI).

Under the law, the number of inmates was supposed to drop to around 47,000 by 2015 and dip below 47,000 two years after that.

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