Criminal Justice

  • October 17, 2017

    by Dan Froomkin

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions has a perplexingly contradictory view of civil rights law when it comes to transgendered people.

    On the one hand, he is enthusiastic about prosecuting murder cases in which the victims were allegedly targeted because of their gender identity. On the other hand, he went out of his way to give employers a green light to discriminate against transgender people in the workplace; rejected the Obama administration interpretation that nondiscrimination laws require schools to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms of their choice;  and defended Donald Trump's half-baked tweet in favor of banning transgender troops.

    The backtracks on transgender protections are among several stark and abrupt reversals from practices during the Obama era that have come under Sessions's watch. One on level, that's not so surprising, coming from the attorney general for a president who on Monday described himself, accurately, as "very opposite" from his predecessor.

  • October 16, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Brad Smith, President and Chief Legal Officer, Microsoft

    *This piece originally appeared on Microsoft on the Issues on October 16, 2017.

    In July 2016, the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit agreed with Microsoft that U.S. federal or state law enforcement cannot use traditional search warrants to seize emails of citizens of foreign countries that are located in data centers outside the United States.  Today, the Supreme Court granted the Department of Justice’s petition to review Microsoft’s victory.  This is an important case that people around the world will watch.  We will continue to press our case in court that the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) – a law enacted decades before there was such a thing as cloud computing – was never intended to reach within other countries’ borders.

  • October 13, 2017

    by Christopher Wright Durocher, Director of Policy Development and Programming, ACS

    A coalition of 88 groups concerned with gun violence in the United States has released an open letter to the elected leaders of America, calling for meaningful legislative action in the wake of the shooting earlier this month in Las Vegas that left 59 people dead and more than 500 injured.

    The letter assails Congress for considering two bills that would liberalize gun regulations—one removing restrictions on the sale of firearm silencers and the other effectively nationalizing the most permissive state concealed carry permit laws through federal mandated reciprocity between states. Though the National Rifle Association (NRA) and its gun industry allies defend these measures as commonsense and necessary to meet Second Amendment principles, these bills go far beyond the protections of the Second Amendment the Supreme Court laid out in the seminal case District of Columbia v. Heller.

  • September 20, 2017

    by Christopher Wright Durocher, Director of Policy Development and Programming, American Constitution Society

    On Wednesday morning, the American Constitution Society and the National Bar Association presented “The Power to Promote Progress: Opportunities and Limits to Prosecutors Seeking Reform,” featuring a panel of current and former state and federal prosecutors discussing what it means to be a reform-minded prosecutor.

    In the past few years—often in response to incumbent chief prosecutors’ failure to reflect the values and needs of their constituencies—cities and counties across the country have elected self-described “progressive prosecutors.” Recently elected prosecutors like Kimberly Foxx in Chicago, Kim Gardner in St. Louis (Missouri), Mark Gonzalez in Corpus Christi, Kim Ogg in Harris County and Aramis Ayala in Orlando, join the ranks of other reform-minded prosecutors like acting-DA Eric Gonzalez in Brooklyn, Cyrus Vance in Manhattan, Pete Holmes in Seattle, and James Stewart in Shreveport. In addition to elected leadership, reform-minded attorneys are also serving as line prosecutors in federal and state prosecutor offices across the country.

  • September 20, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Kim Gardner, Circuit Attorney for the City of St. Louis

    I am disappointed with the court’s finding in the shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith. As the Circuit Attorney for the City of St. Louis, I remain committed to holding people accountable for violating the law, regardless of their race, gender, occupation, or station in life. My job is to ensure a fair and transparent process and to vigorously present the evidence in the best manner possible, and my team did exactly that.  

    While officer-involved shooting cases are extremely difficult to prevail in court, I believe we offered sufficient evidence that proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Jason Stockley intended to kill Mr. Smith. However, in this case it was the judge’s duty to evaluate the evidence and deliver his findings. That’s how our system works.