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June 2015 Archives

Bail Getting A Makeover

The process of setting bail is a decidedly inconsistent one across the nation. Even within a single courtroom, it can appear as though bail is set with no rhyme or reason. The Laura and John Arnold Foundation has developed a new method for setting bail that would add some predictability to the process. The Foundation has developed an algorithm for setting bail. The algorithm has been tested in a few jurisdictions over the past two years and is now set to be used in an additional 21 jurisdictions, including New Jersey, Arizona and Chicago. While the algorithm answers some of the concerns over how bail is used in this country, it is still not clear that it will not unduly penalize low and middle income families.

Thirty Year Sentence For Enticement And Coercion

A Michigan man received a sentence of 30 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to coercion and enticement of a minor. The man had contact over the Internet with an underage girl in Portland. The relationship eventually included an exchange of pornographic images, according to investigators. The sentence was handed down in U.S. District Court.

SCOTUS holds ACCA residual clause unconstitutional

Perhaps lost in the celebration of today's victory for marriage equality is a decision of monumental importance to federal criminal defense practitioners. Today, in Johnson v. United States, the United States Supreme Court invalidated the "residual clause" of the Armed Career Criminal Act.

The Use And Abuse Of The Bail System

The history of the bail system goes back to the Middle Ages, so perhaps it is no surprise that it can be excessively harsh on non-wealthy citizens. The last significant alteration to the U.S. bail system was more than 20 years ago. Many people believe that the time has come to revisit the issue of bail. The system is overly burdensome to poor and middle class citizens and often leads to periods of incarceration that far exceed even the period that would result from an immediate conviction.

Novel Asset Forfeiture Attempt In Racketeering Case

In a criminal prosecution, the federal government can seize assets deemed to be proceeds of federal crimes. They can also seize assets that were used to facilitate federal crimes. The government suggests that this power is used to improve public safety and security and to prevent future criminal activity by criminal organizations. In practice, asset forfeiture can be seen as way to punish family members and people associated with individuals who are convicted of crimes. The power to force the forfeiture of assets is one that should watched carefully by those concerned with criminal justice.

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Kohlmetz, Steen & Hanrahan, P.C.

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