After years of disclosure of forensic frauds, discrediting of previous forensic techniques, and exonerations of innocents incarcerated for crimes they did not commit, in 2009, at the behest of Congress, the National Academies of Science published a thoughtful, but devastating critique of the practice of forensic science in the criminal courts of the United States.

The Federal Sentencing Guidelines were originally imposed by Congress in the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 (SRA). This statute was an attempt to create a determinate sentencing system, which included large-scale elimination of parole and severe restriction of good time credit in order to create a system in which criminals would serve most or all of the time to which they were sentenced.

For nearly 100 years prior to the enactment of the SRA, the U.S. federal criminal system was an indeterminate sentencing system, under which “[s]tatutes specified the penalties for crimes but nearly always gave the sentencing judge wide discretion” in whether an individual should be incarcerated and for how long, and as to whether the use of parole was appropriate. 

Although cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are often likened to the Old Wild West, that does not mean there are not any laws governing them. While many issues surrounding the decade-old digital asset remain unclear or unregulated, there are some practices that can get the average retail investor in trouble. For example, federal policies adopted in 2017 impact taxes on cryptocurrency and participation in initial coin offerings. More regulations are likely — and that could be a good or bad thing, depending on whom you ask. This plain-language primer provides an overview of the most common legal issues that investors need to be aware of and what the future may hold.

In Gideon v. Wainwright, the Supreme Court held that all criminal defendants facing serious criminal charges are entitled to the assistance of counsel, regardless of whether they can afford an attorney. In the years since Gideon, however, the provision of public defense to those who cannot afford counsel has fallen far short of the ideal expressed in Gideon that “every defendant stands equal before the law.” The failure of public defense systems to provide adequate representation to indigent defendants is often caused by severe underfunding and has resulted in the chronic appointment of “incompetent or inexperienced” counsel; delays in the appointment of counsel and discontinuity of attorney representation; a lack of training and oversight for counsel representing indigent defendants; excessive public defender caseloads and understaffing of public defender offices; inadequate or nonexistent expert and investigative resources for defense counsel; and a lack of meaningful attorney-client contact.

One response to these failings—as is often the case when constitutional violations are afoot—has been to challenge them in court. The focus of this short Article is on how the courts can address and have addressed the failings of underfunded and structurally flawed indigent defense systems. More specifically, it explores lawsuits that identify systemic failures—such as underfunding, excessive caseloads, and inadequate training and oversight—and seeks system-wide remedies capable of transforming the provision of defense services.

JUSTICE STEVEN H. DAVID |  JUDGE CALE J. BRADFORD  

Crime doesn’t pay; it costs. In addition to serving a sentence or probation, a convicted criminal may be ordered to pay for his or her crime(s), literally.

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Our goal is to have this Article serve as a one-stop guide to trial court judges and practitioners about the types of criminal debt that defendants may be ordered to pay and the requirements and guidelines for imposing each.

 

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by Tyler J. Smith
J.D., 2015, Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law


H-I-V. Arguably, no three letters in American society have generated more fear of a “viral underclass” [1] than those associated with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (“HIV”). In many states, including Indiana, simply having HIV is a crime with potentially severe consequences. The criminalization of HIV is founded on a fear of something many people do not fully understand and the stigma of “HIV’s association with an ‘outlaw’ sexuality, anal intercourse, gay men, people of color, and people who use drugs.” [2] Indeed, convictions under these statutes rarely have anything to do with actual HIV transmission or risk of transmission. [3] Over thirty states currently have HIV specific criminal statutes “based on perceived exposure to HIV, rather than actual transmission of HIV to another.” [4]

by Marcus Alan McGhee
2015 Fellow, Program on Law and State Government
J.D. Candidate, 2016, Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law
M.P.A., 2012, Northern Kentucky University
B.A., cum laude, 2010, Northern Kentucky University


Starting a few decades ago, school districts across the nation began to adopt and strictly adhere to zero-tolerance policies related to student behavior. [1] As a result, hundreds—if not thousands—of youth were funneled into the criminal justice system. [2] This over-criminalized reaction has been exacerbated by the presence of the school resource officers (“SROs”) [3] in some jurisdictions. Minor infractions once left to the resourcefulness of teachers or principals are now under the purview of in-house police officers. [4] As a result, more students are receiving the end-of-school designation of felon instead of high school graduate. [5] Of course, not all instances result in a conviction. Nonetheless, simply being arrested is sufficient to create a lasting record in the criminal justice system. Furthermore, the arrests discussed in this Article are not the ones of gun wielding deviants, but instead are those resulting from behavior most would argue typify adolescence: things like back talk and disobedience. [6] Indeed, after reading some arrest reports one might assume that the reports were drafted for mock trials instead of genuine criminal hearings: a fourteen-year-old arrested for texting, [7] a thirteen-year-old arrested for passing gas, [8] and a six-year-old arrested for throwing a temper tantrum. [9]