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  • July 25, 2017
    Guest Post

    by John H. Blume, Samuel F. Leibowitz Professor of Trial Techniques; Director of Clinical, Advocacy and Skills Programs; Director, Cornell Death Penalty Project, Cornell Law School

    The Sixth Amendment provides that “in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall … have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.” The right to counsel encompasses the right to an attorney -- a qualified attorney. Not, for instance, one who has been disbarred and prohibited from practicing law. 

    And yet, that’s exactly what happened to TaiChin Preyor, who is scheduled for execution in Texas on July 27. Mr. Preyor was convicted and sentenced to death in 2005 for a murder in San Antonio. Mr. Preyor’s trial counsel, however, did not properly investigate known red flags regarding his background, including the violence and sexual abuse Mr. Preyor experienced as a child. These formative experiences are not an excuse, but this mitigation evidence, and other critical details about Mr. Preyor’s childhood, could have persuaded at least one juror to vote for a life sentence, rather than death.

  • July 25, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Andrew Wright, Associate Professor, Savannah Law School

    Last Friday, the Washington Post reported that President Donald Trump has consulted his lawyers about granting pardons in the Russia investigation, including the possibility of a self-pardon. That would stand in stark contrast to the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) determination that a president cannot pardon himself. In 1974 under Richard Nixon, OLC stated: “Under the fundamental rule that no one may be a judge in his own case, the president cannot pardon himself.”

    Over the weekend, the pardon debate continued. President Donald Trump claimed in a Saturday morning tweet that he has “complete power to pardon” his associates and, perhaps, himself.  A week earlier, on ABC’s This Week, Trump’s personal lawyers, Jay Sekulow, had refused to rule out the possibility that the president would pardon his associates, or even himself, in the Russia investigation. Sekulow walked back his previous statement on July 23, stating that “pardons are not on the table,” despite the Post reporting. Interestingly, he asserted that the idea of a presidential self-pardon is an open question that should be resolved in court.

  • July 25, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Dan Froomkin and Victoria Bassetti, Brennan Center Contributor

    Donald Trump's contempt for women assumes many forms. His selection of nominees to serve as U.S. attorneys around the country has proven to be one of them: Of the 29 people he has nominated for U.S. attorney positions, 28 are men.

    Fully 25 are white men. There's one Asian-American woman, one African-American man, one Asian-American man and one Native American man.

  • July 24, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Jean R. Sternlight, Saltman Professor of Law, Boyd School of Law, UNLV

    *This is part of ACSblog's Symposium on Regulatory Rollback

    The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) just issued a new rule prohibiting financial service providers from using forced arbitration to prevent their customers from suing the company in class actions.  While many of us believe this rule is a “great win for consumers,” others are trying to gut it in Congress, in the courts, or through administrative action by the Comptroller of the Currency.

    The new CFPB rule is critically important in its own right, but it is also interesting to view the battle over this rule as a microcosm of the fight we so often see between free market devotees and fans of regulation. Bankers, credit card issuers, payday lenders and the Chamber of Commerce have urged for many years that consumers should be free to “choose” to resolve disputes through individual arbitration – supposedly a quicker, cheaper better mode of dispute resolution as compared to litigation and class actions.  In contrast, those who oppose forced arbitration assert that such arbitration is unfair for consumers and bad for society as a whole.  Ultimately this battle between free marketeers and pro-regulation forces turns on principles of economics, psychology, and political philosophy, as I have detailed elsewhere.

  • July 24, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Daniel Farber, Sho Sato Professor of Law & Co-Faculty Director, Center For Law, Energy & The Environment, University of California, Berkeley

    *This is part of ACSblog's Symposium on Regulatory Rollback

    While public attention has been focused on health care legislation, immigration and the Russia scandal, a lot has been happening under the radar in Washington. In numerous government agencies, Trump appointees are working to reverse years of effort by the Obama Administration.

    The EPA is headed by Scott Pruitt, who made his name as Oklahoma Attorney General with a series of lawsuits against the agency. The LA Times calls him “Trump’s most dangerous and adroit hatchetman.” The NY Times reported that Pruitt “has moved to undo, delay or otherwise block more than 30 environmental rules, a regulatory rollback larger in scope than any other over so short a time in the agency’s 47-year history....” The title of the NY Times story was revealing: “Counseled by Industry, Not Staff, E.P.A. Chief is Off to a Blazing Start.” One of his great triumphs was successfully lobbying President Trump to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change.