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

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



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Restoring Integrity at the United States Department of Justice


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The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), similar to other institutions under the current administration, is unsettled, adrift, and no longer composed of the most upstanding people.  Like heads of other executive branch agencies, DOJ leaders have repeatedly violated long-standing norms, abandoned traditional priorities, and demoralized the DOJ’s workforce over the past few years.  But the DOJ is also fundamentally unlike other institutions of government.

The Government's Involvement in Killing Dissenters


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On April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot while standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee.  An hour later he died.  For nearly fifty years, the federal government has maintained that James Earl Ray was the gunman who assassinated King that day.  But within Martin Luther King’s family, there remains a strong belief that Ray is innocent, and was set up to take the fall.

A Look at Presidential Pardons since 1900


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Corruption is the rule.  This week marks twenty-eight years since George H.W. Bush pardoned six defendants as part of the Iran-Contra cover up.  One of whom, confessed criminal Elliot Abrams, was brought back into government by George W. Bush, and now serves as Trump’s Iran/Valenzuela envoy.  Trump is not just using the pardon power as other presidents have, but pardoning people to send a clear signal to witnesses and prosecutors.  Each of the pardoned miscreants was convicted of crimes that may have been committed by witnesses against Trump or by the president himself.

Warnings over Guns at Polling Places on Election Day


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Can voters bring guns into polling places?  In most states, the answer is: it depends.  Only about a dozen states—including California, Arizona, Florida and Georgia—explicitly ban open and/or concealed carry in voting sites.  In much of the country, voters may bring firearms into polling places, as long as the buildings and churches do.  Those rules vary at the state and local level.

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.

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