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Prosecutorial analytics

Here is the abstract for Prof. Jason Kreag’s new article on the Social Science Research Network:

The institution of the prosecutor has more power than any other in the criminal justice system. What is more, prosecutorial power is often unreviewable as a result of limited constitutional regulation and the fact that it is increasingly exercised in private and semi-private settings as the system has become more administrative and less adversarial. Despite this vast, unreviewable power, prosecutors often rely on crude performance measures focused on conviction rates. The focus on conviction rates fails to capture and adequately evaluate the breadth of prosecutorial decision-making. We can do better by fully implementing analytics as a tool to evaluate the prosecutorial function. Read more

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Ocasio v. United States, USSC No. 14-361, (May 2, 2016), affirming United States v. Ocasio, 750 F.3d 399, (4th Cir. 2014); SCOTUSblog page (includes links to briefs and commentary)

That post title is Justice Thomas’s view of the majority’s decision in this case, and he is not the lone dissenter. The Hobbs Act makes it a crime to obstruct, delay or affect commerce by extortion. It defines extortion as the obtaining of property from another with his consent, induced by wrongful use of force, violence or fear, or under color of official right. 18 U.S.C. §1951(b)(2). In a split decision with an odd alignment of justices, the majority holds that “a group of conspirators can agree to obtain property ‘from another’ in violation of the [Hobbs] Act even if they agree only to transfer property among themselves.”  (Slip op. Sotomayor, J. dissenting at 1). Read more

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That’s what we suspect anyway. In 2011, Kansas passed the Offender Registration Act, which requires persons convicted of certain felonies to register with state authorities. That prompted the question of whether applying the Act to persons convicted before it went into effect would violate the constitutional prohibition against ex post facto laws. Last week, the Kansas Supreme Court issued a 4-3 opinion answering “yes.” A few hours later it issued another 4-3 opinion reversing itself on the very same issue.  How could this happen? You’ll have to click here or here to find out!

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Michael Miller v. Dushan Zatecky, 7th Circuit Court of Appeals No. 15-1869, 4/26/2016

An Indiana state court sentenced Michael Miller to a total of 120 years in prison on three counts of child molestation. On direct appeal, his lawyer raised challenges to the sufficiency of the evidence and the admission of other-acts evidence, but did not contest the length of his sentence. Miller then filed a state collateral attack, alleging his original appellate counsel was ineffective for not attacking the sentence. Read more

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United States v. Lemurel E. Williams, 7th Circuit Court of Appeals No. 15-1194, 4/26/16

Williams is entitled to a new trial because under the totality of the circumstances, the jury’s continued deliberations after an aborted delivery of the initial verdict were impermissibly coercive. Read more

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Mr. Doe goes to Washington, perhaps

As readers may know, the prosecutors in the so-called “John Doe” cases have filed a petition for certiorari in the United States Supreme Court. Read more

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Donovan M. Burris v. Judy P. Smith, 7th Circuit Court of Appeals No. 15-2891, 4/28/16

Burris’s claim that a supplemental instruction to the jury about how to determine “utter disregard for human life” doesn’t present a claim for federal habeas relief because it presents only a claim about an error of state law, not a claim that the instruction violated federal constitutional law. Read more

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State v. G.H., 2015AP1606, District 1, 4/28/16 (one-judge decision; ineligible for publication); case activity

G.H.’s parental rights to M.R.H. were terminated on the grounds that M.R.H. remained in need of protection or services under § 48.415(2) and that G.H. had failed to assume parental responsibility under § 48.415(6). The court of appeals rejects his claims that these statutes are unconstitutional as applied to him. Read more

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