Category: Civil Liberties

January 30, 2015

Supreme Court Upholds Auto Stop With No Traffic Violation

Ignorance of the law is no excuse – that is, unless you’re a police officer. For the first time, in December, the Supreme Court upheld a traffic stop even where there was no traffic violation. The court, in Heien v. North Carolina, continued its steady erosion of the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches and… Read more »

December 3, 2014

Prosecutor Manipulates Grand Jury Process to Shield Officer

You know the fix is in when a suspect who shot an unarmed man voluntarily provides four hours of un-cross examined testimony to a grand jury without taking the Fifth. On August 9, Ferguson, Missouri Police Officer Darren Wilson gunned down 18-year-old African American Michael Brown. Since that fateful day, people across the country have… Read more »

June 30, 2014

Will Supremes Apply Cell Phone Privacy to Metadata Collection?

In one of the most significant Fourth Amendment rulings ever handed down by the Supreme Court, all nine justices agreed in an opinion involving two companion cases, Riley v. California and United States v. Wurie, that police generally need a warrant before reading data on the cell phone of an arrestee. This decision may well… Read more »

May 15, 2014

Death to the Death Penalty

The recent torturous execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma has propelled the death penalty into the national discourse. The secret three-drug cocktail prison authorities administered to Lockett – the first to render him unconscious, the second to paralyze him, and the third to stop his heart and kill him – didn’t work as planned. After… Read more »

June 13, 2013

The Turkish Spring: Lawyers Rounded Up

For nearly three weeks, thousands of protestors have gathered peacefully at Occupy Gezi in Taksim Square in Istanbul. Turkish police have unleashed a brutal crackdown, resulting in three confirmed deaths and nearly 5,000 injured. According to Turkish lawyer Kerem Gulay, a Fulbright Scholar and doctoral student at Cornell Law School, police tactics include excessive beatings… Read more »

July 18, 2011

Prisoners Strike against Torture in California Prisons

The torture of prisoners in U.S. custody isn’t confined to foreign countries. Since July 1, inmates at California’s Pelican Bay State Prison have been on a hunger strike to protest torturous conditions in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) there. Prisoners have been held for years in solitary confinement, which can amount to torture. More than… Read more »

August 20, 2010

California Assembly Votes to Report on Human Rights to U.N. Committees

On August 9, the California Assembly took the historic step of becoming the first state to agree to publicize the text of three ratified U.N. human rights treaties, and to submit the required reports to the State Department for consideration by the U.N. treaty committees. The State Assembly voted to pass ACR 129, the Human… Read more »

May 29, 2010

Rwandan Arrest of U.S. Lawyer Motivated by Politics

Professor Peter Erlinder, noted criminal defense lawyer and past president of the National Lawyers Guild, was arrested Friday morning in Rwanda for “genocide ideology.” Erlinder’s representation of high-profile defendants before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has incurred the wrath of government officials, who have charged him with “negation of the Tutsi genocide” for… Read more »

May 14, 2010

Kagan’s Troubling Record

After President Obama nominated Elena Kagan for the Supreme Court, he made a statement that implied she would follow in the footsteps of Justice Thurgood Marshall, the civil rights giant and first black Supreme Court justice. Kagan served as a law clerk for Marshall shortly after she graduated from Harvard Law School. Specifically, Obama said… Read more »

May 10, 2010

Kagan Will Move Supreme Court to the Right

President Barack Obama has chosen Elena Kagan to fill the vacancy left by Justice John Paul Stevens’ retirement. Sadly, Kagan cannot fill Justice Stevens’ mighty shoes. As the Rehnquist court continued to eviscerate the right of the people to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, Associate Justice John Paul Stevens filed principled and courageous… Read more »