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Criminal Justice News This Week (week of 11-09-20)

Court rules for inmate in qualified immunity case "In their orders on Monday, the justices struck down a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit that had blocked a Texas inmate’s lawsuit against prison officials. The inmate, Trent Taylor, was forced to spend six days naked in cells that contained feces from previous occupants and overflowing sewage. Taylor alleged that prison officials’ conduct violated the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment, but the 5th Circuit, invoking a doctrine known as qualified immunity, ruled that the officials could not be sued because it was not 'clearly established' that their conduct violated Taylor’s constitutional rights. Taylor went to the Supreme Court in April, asking the justices to clarify what it means for a constitutional violation to be clearly established."

What Biden’s Win Means for the Future of Criminal Justice "Joe Biden ran on the most progressive criminal justice platform of any major party candidate in generations. So what can he actually do?"

Defendants Beware: Juror Bias in COVID-19 Litigation "As trials resume, defendants need to be aware of the potential biases prospective jurors may have against those accused of coronavirus-related wrongdoing."

'Unusual' Grant of Anonymity to R. Kelly Jurors Will Present Challenge for Defense Team, Observers Say "Defense attorney Julie Rendelman described the ruling as 'highly unusual' and said she was especially struck by the fact that not even Kelly’s attorneys are allowed to know the identities of the jurors."

Effective Voir Dire in a Virtual World "When it comes to voir dire and virtual trials, the keys to success are the same: maintaining juror focus and evolving connection. Doing so over video platforms requires the adoption of new skills, tools and practice sets."

To our next president: 10 priorities for fixing our justice system "Demands for racial justice are rightly hijacking any conversation designed to engage the Black community, forcing America to face its past and present."

From marijuana to mushrooms, voters want drug laws eased "In states across the country, voters sent a clear message they wanted restrictions on recreational drug use eased. Yesterday, residents of Arizona, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota voted to join the ranks of 11 other states that have done so."

How A Supreme Court Case About The ACA Could Change Federal Criminal Law "...the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the latest case challenging the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”), once again placing the Court at the center of a dispute affecting the healthcare of millions of people around the country. The Court’s ultimate decision will be important in its own right, but the case also bears scrutiny because it could potentially have unintended but lasting consequences for federal criminal law as well."

Litigation in the Time of COVID: Best Practices for Virtual Advocacy "A focus on how the pandemic has affected litigators and litigation practices, which developments may and should be here to stay, and some best practices for navigating the new normal of virtual advocacy, whether in discovery or in trials."

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