In The News
ATTORNEY GENERAL HOLDER RENOUNCES "WAR ON DRUGS"
On August 12, 2013, while addressing the American Bar Association House of Delegates, Attorney General Eric Holder announced a sweeping new Department of Justice initiative, entitled "Smart on Crime," that effectively renounces the several-decade-old draconinan sentencing policies of the “war on drugs.” The initiative was motivated primarily by concerns with overcharging, overcriminalization, and mass incarceration and their resulting financial and human costs, trends which mandatory-minimum sentences have escalated over the past decades. The initiative includes a major change in DoJ prosecutorial policy for low-level nonviolent drug offenders by encouraging federal prosecutors to charge defendants only with crimes whose corresponding sentences are proportional to the offense conduct, rather than treating all drug offenders like kingpins. The purpose of the initiative is to maximize public safety by focusing resources on incarcerating serious offenders while providing reentry and rehabilitation resources to less serious ones.
Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl (June 25, 2013)
The Supreme Court held that the section of the Indian Child Welfare Act that requires a showing that the continuing custody of an Indian child with a biological parent would result in serious harm to the child did not apply if the Indian parent had never had prior custody of the child.
For more on this topic, see Leslie Harris, Reconsidering the Criteria for Legal Fatherhood, 1996 UTAH LAW REVIEW 461.
Haugen v. Kitzhaber (June 20, 2013)
The Oregon Supreme Court reinstated Haugen’s stay of execution, holding that a gubernatorial reprieve did not have to have a stated end date or be accepted by the recipient to be effective.
Salinas v. Texas (June 17, 2013)
The Supreme Court held that the Fifth Amendment did not prohibit a prosecutor from commenting on Salinas's silence in response to noncustodial police questioning and that Salinas was required to invoke the privilege against self-incrimination expressly in order to benefit from it.
Maryland v. King (June 3, 2013)
The Supreme Court held that, while a warrantless buccal swab of the inside of an arrestee’s check was a “search” under the Fourth Amendment, it was nonetheless reasonable because it was a minimal intrusion justified by the State’s significant interest in identifying all arrestees.
Missouri v. McNeely (April 17, 2013)
The Supreme Court held that the natural process of alcohol metabolism did not present a per se exigency that justified an exception to the Fourth Amendment's warrant requirement for nonconsensual blood testing in drunk-driving cases, but rather that exigency had to be determined case by case based on the totality of the circumstances.
Florida v. Jardines (March 26, 2013)
The Supreme Court held that law enforcement officers' use of a drug-sniffing dog on the front porch of Jardines’s home to investigate an unverified tip that he was growing marijuana inside was a trespassory invasion of the curtilage that constituted a “search” for Fourth Amendment purposes and that the officers did not have an implied license for the physical invasion of the curtilage.
For more on this topic, see Carrie Leonetti, Open Fields in the Inner City: Application of the Curtilage Doctrine to Urban and Suburban Areas, 15 Geo. Mason U. Civ. Rts. L.J. 297 (2005), reprinted in The Fourth Amendment: Searches and Seizures: Its Constitutional History and the Contemporary Debate (ed. Cynthia Lee) (2011).
Clapper v. Amnesty International (Feb. 26, 2013)
The Supreme Court held that attorneys and human rights, labor, legal, and media organizations lacked standing to challenge the constitutionality of the provision of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act authorizing surveillance of foreign individuals outside of the United States.
Florida v. Harris (Feb. 19, 2013)
The Supreme Court held that a detection dog’s alert can provide probable cause to search if the State can establish that the alert is a reliable indication of the existence of contraband.
Bailey v. United States (Feb. 19, 2013)
The Supreme Court held that when police officers execute a search warrant for premises, they may only detain individuals in the immediate vicinity of the premises to be searched incident to warrant execution.