The U.S. Legal System and All Things Related Blog

With Enough People, Power, and Persistence, the System Will Improve



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How the U.S. Criminal Justice System Failed Olympic Gold Medalists


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In a litany of reports and documents, the four women who appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this month have for years been referred to by initials or numbers: “Athlete B,” “Gymnast 1”, “Athlete A,” “Gymnast 3.”  This month, the women—elite gymnasts Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Maggie Nichols and Aly Raisman—gave U.S. senators an emotional and harrowing account of how the Federal Bureau of Investigation, USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee failed to investigate or act when they emerged as potential victims of sexual assault by former national team doctor Larry Nassar.

Corruption Is Alive and Well in American Courts


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A judiciary without honesty has little chance of executing its moral and constitutional duties, no matter how many rules of ethics exist.  This is true in the United States, where the judiciary is afforded wide discretion.  Facts and laws require interpretation; justice and equity require judgment.  We count on honest judges to navigate our ship of justice through dangerous waters.  We expect judges to be honest because we establish institutions that incentivize honesty.  Despite the critical importance of maintaining judicial integrity, there is much to say about how commonplace corruption is in our courts.

Judge Furious with Federal Prosecutors


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It’s not often that a judge does the right thing—upholds the law, exposes corruption, or rebukes prosecutors.  In the early days of our nation, it may have been quite common.  Today, however, it’s a rarity.  It’s so rare, in fact, that this is the first in more than fifty posts we’ve published that actually commends actions rather than condemns them.

Nationwide Protests and Demand for Institutional Reforms


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As many people are aware, there have been protests around the country as well as around the world after the brutal and senseless murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis on Monday, May 25th, 2020.  As the saying goes, this was the straw that broke the camel’s back—after the million other straws underneath it.  The tumult and passion of the past several weeks have forced people to face the uncomfortable realities of our justice system.  These protests are like nothing the United States and the world have ever seen.  The last time anything close to what is currently transpiring happened in the United States was during the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

The Staggering Costs of Wrongful Convictions


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The Numbers are Astounding

The National Registry of Exonerations—a joint project of the University of California/Irvine Newkirk Center for Science & Society, the University of Michigan Law School, and the Michigan State University College of Law—near the end of 2019 included a total of 2,515 individuals who lost a combined 21,000 years of their lives due to wrongful convictions, and these numbers are growing all the time.  The compensation paid to these people is sometimes in the millions, with the total estimated to stand at over $2 billion.

Orange County Corruption Exposed


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Two audits conducted by the Orange County sheriff’s department uncovered a pattern of filing false reports that could call into question thousands of convictions.  Deputies booked evidence days, and sometimes weeks, after it was purportedly collected according to an internal audit, which examined thousands of police reports filed between 2016 and 2018.  Thirty percent of evidence was “booked out of policy,” according to a presentation describing the first audit’s findings.  A second audit found that deputies had claimed to have collected evidence that was never booked.

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