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July 2013 Archives

Just how reliable is DNA evidence in violent crime prosecutions?

As we discussed on this blog at the time, in June the U.S. Supreme Court ruled there is no constitutional bar to a law enforcement agency setting up a colossal DNA database and requiring all those arrested for “serious crimes” to submit DNA samples for inclusion. Law enforcement can then use the database to compare the arrestees’ DNA to any DNA evidence collected in unsolved violent crimes and sex offenses.

DOJ review finds 27 possibly wrongful capital murder convictions

When the U.S. Department of Justice agreed to undertake a review of federal criminal convictions between 1985 and 2000 in which FBI laboratory analysts had testified about microscopic hair sample evidence, prosecutors probably didn’t expect to find many wrongful convictions. In fact, the review brought to light as many as 27 cases in which the accused was convicted of murder and has been sentenced to death. In fact, the findings have resulted in one man getting a last-minute reprieve -- a Mississippi man who was to have been executed this spring is still alive today because the Justice Department wants to retest the hair sample evidence used to convict him.

De facto life sentences for Florida juveniles: Unconstitutional?

In September, the Florida Supreme Court will hear oral arguments about whether a 70-year sentence for a violent juvenile offense violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment as defined in the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 case Graham v. Florida. In that case, the nation’s high court ruled that life sentences in non-homicide juvenile cases violate the Eighth Amendment because they deny a young offender “any chance to later demonstrate that he is fit to rejoin society based solely on a non-homicide crime that he committed while he was a child in the eyes of the law."

Seatbelt violation earns Sanford woman cocaine trafficking charge

A routine traffic stop by a Volusia County Sheriff’s deputy with a K-9 partner ended in the arrest of a 67-year-old Sanford woman on felony drug trafficking and other charges last week. She was pulled over because the eagle-eyed officer happened to notice she wasn’t wearing her seat belt.

Florida teen takes picture of self and is charged with child porn

Adolescents are biologically programmed to push boundaries. In doing so, they help to empower themselves to move slowly away from their parents and eventually stand alone as independent adults. However, the boundary pushing process can be dangerous in certain situations even though the general urge to do so is both normal and even healthy. When adolescents push certain boundaries in Florida, they could be charged with juvenile offenses and ultimately face consequences that will impact their adult lives.

Florida woman in Porsche kills two, charged with manslaughter

A Florida woman has been charged with DUI manslaughter, unlawful-blood-alcohol-level manslaughter, DUI with property damage, and unlawful-blood-alcohol-level property damage, according to the Sun Sentinel. It appears the 22 year-old woman was attempting to make a turn when she lost control of her mother's 2012 Porsche Panamera. The vehicle sped off the roadway and hit two men who were having a conversation in the parking lot. One man died at the scene, the other, who was dragged by the vehicle, died later at a local hospital.

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