SCOTUS UPHOLDS CONVICTION OF MAN QUESTIONING DNA RELIABILITY
The Supreme Court ruled Monday that the prosecuter’s crime lab analysts are not required to give live testimony as part of a defendant’s right to confront his accusers.
The LA Time’s David G. Savage has the story. Here’s a clip:
By a splintered 5-4 vote, the justices upheld the conviction of a Chicago rapist who was found guilty based on a DNA match done by a crime lab in Maryland. The majority said the expert testimony provided by an Illinois police lab analyst was sufficient.
The ruling came as the court entered the last two weeks of its term. Major rulings on healthcare, immigration and broadcast indecency are still pending. The justices will hand down decisions Thursday and again on several days next week. The court’s partial retreat in Williams vs. Illinois is a victory for prosecutors and state lawyers.
The 6th Amendment says the accused “shall enjoy the right … to be confronted with the witnesses against him.” Justice Antonin Scalia had led a revival of this right and said it applied not just to the eyewitnesses of a crime, but to all people who provided crucial testimony for the prosecution.
PROBATIONERS GET A NEW START WITH CLEAN SLATE DAY
California lawbreakers have to deal with the stigma of their criminal history in a multitude of ways. One of the biggest is the difficulties that a criminal record creates where the job market is concerned. Last week in the Bay area, some of those convicted of low level crimes and given probation had a chance to partially clean up their records through a program called Clean Slate Day, which—in addition to expungement—offers those attending a bunch of resources designed to help them reintegrate more successfully back into society.
SF Gate’s Carolyn Said has the story. Here’s a clip:
Advocates say the need for a fresh start is more acute than ever, as most major employers now require background checks, even as the number of people convicted of crimes continues to rise, in part spurred by stringent drug-sentencing laws.
A quarter of all adult Americans have an arrest or conviction that could show up on a background check, said Jessie Warner, director of re-entry legal services and policy for Rubicon Programs, a social-service agency that helps low-income people achieve financial independence.
No longer being stigmatized by past convictions “can make a huge difference between low-wage work and career development,” she said. “It’s a life-changing moment for a lot of clients.”
Thursday’s Clean Slate Day – run by Rubicon, the East Bay Community Law Center, Bay Area Legal Aid and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights – was part of a larger Homeless Connect event at the Willow Pass Community Center that offered a range of services for low-income people – free haircuts and dental care, a DMV counter, wheelchair/bicycle repairs and meetings with social-service providers. The event, which drew more than 700 people, had a county fair feel with free barbecue and rows of tents where agencies met with people and handed out brochures.
LA MAGAZINE’S ED LEIBOWITZ ON KING’S LIFE AND DEATH
Ed Leibowitz wrote a controversial yet definitive profile on Rodney King for LA Magazine in 1999.. He writes again on King for LA Mag. giving his take on the life AND death of King. Although we wrote on King’ death last night, we felt Leibowitz’s piece demanded another round. Here’s how it opens:
For a long time after I’d written a profile about Rodney King for the Los Angeles Times Magazine in 1999, I kept a message he’d left on my answering machine. I erased it accidentally about four years after it was recorded, but I still remember it—how earnest, gentle and hesitant his voice sounded, such a contrast to the PCP-crazed inner-city monster that the jurors bought at the 1992 Simi Valley trial. “Hey, Ed. It’s Rodney, a little late. Yeah, I think I am going surfing this morning. I’m not going as early as I thought I was, but if you want to come, give me a call.”
Read the rest.
Photo by Charles Dharapak for AP