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Wednesday :: April 23, 2014

AZ Supreme Court Rejects Presence of THC Metabolite as Proof of Drugged Driving

The Arizona Supreme Court has ruled that prosecutors need proof a driver was impaired by his consumption of marijuana to convict of drugged driving. The presence of THC metabolites in the driver's blood is not enough.

The opinion, available here, states that medical evidence shows the presence of Carboxy-THC does not equate to impairment.

“Because carboxy-THC can remain in the body for as many as 28 to 30 days after ingestion, the state’s position suggests that a medical-marijuana user could face prosecution for driving anytime nearly a month after they had legally ingested marijuana,” Brutinel wrote. “Such a prohibition would apply even when the driver had no impairing substance in his or her body.”

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DOJ Announces Broadened Clemency Criteria for Drug Offenders

On Monday, the Justice Department announced it would soon be implementing new and broader criteria for drug offenders seeking clemency.

Today, the Justice Department announced the new criteria. It is a welcome sea change:

The Justice Department is encouraging nonviolent federal inmates who have behaved in prison, have no significant criminal history and have already served more than 10 years behind bars to apply for clemency, officials announced Wednesday.

The new criteria:

  • They are currently serving a federal sentence in prison and, by operation of law, likely would have received a substantially lower sentence if convicted of the same offense(s) today;
  • They are non-violent, low-level offenders without significant ties to large scale criminal organizations, gangs or cartels;
  • They have served at least 10 years of their prison sentence;
  • They do not have a significant criminal history;
  • They have demonstrated good conduct in prison; and
  • They have no history of violence prior to or during their current term of imprisonment.

Thank you Obama Administration. This is what change looks like. [More...]

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Tuesday :: April 22, 2014

Tuesday Night Open Thread

It's time for El Capo. How will he escape the guerrillas in Colombia?

This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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President of Colombia: War on Drugs a Failure

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos says the War on Drugs has failed and we need a new approach to drug trafficking.

In an interview on Monday with The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Santos noted a softening of hard-line antidrug policies both in the U.S. and in Latin America. He said the world had to develop more "realistic and pragmatic" ways to fight drug trafficking.

"How do I explain to a peasant in Colombia that I have to put him in prison for growing marijuana when in Colorado or in Washington state, it's legal to buy the same marijuana?" he said. "The world needs a more effective, fresher, more creative focus to win this war, because until now we haven't won, and the cost has been enormous."

[More...]

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Supreme Court Upholds Michigan Ban on Affirmative Action

In a 6-2 vote, the Supreme Court has upheld Michigan's ban on affirmative action in college admissions. The full opinion in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action is here.

The opinion holds that Michigan voters had the right to amend their constitution to prohibit public universities from considering race in admissions decisions.

Justices Sotomayor wrote the 58 page dissent, joined in by Justice Ginsburg. The Chicago Tribune discusses the dissent here. [More...]

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Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Aereo Case

Here is the transcript of today's oral argument in the Supreme Court in the case of ABC v. Aereo. Aereo is a broadcast tv streaming service that for a small monthly fee, allows computer and mobile device users to access their network of antennas and watch shows that are broadcast on free over the air channels in their area. Not surprisingly, the TV networks want to shut them down.

The networks claim Aereo violates copyright laws. Aereo says all it does it provide access to the antennas and the user decides what to watch.

The legal issues are very technical. One has to do with whether Aereo's service falls under the "public performance" or "reproduction" part of the copyright statute. If the networks are right, then Aereo is in violation of the law for not paying re-transmission fees to the networks. (Networks earn $3 billion a year in re-transmission fees from cable and satellite providers.) [More...]

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Monday :: April 21, 2014

Federal Marshal Kills Defendant on Trial in Utah

A U.S. marshal shot and killed a defendant on trial for racketeering and gang-related charges in Utah federal court after he lunged at a witness with a pen. The witness, 31-year-old Vaiola Mataele Tenifa, was a cooperating gang member testifying about the inner workings of the gang in exchange for a sentence concession in his own cases. He is serving a sentence of up to 30 years in state prison. [More...]

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Supreme Court Rejects Guantanamo Appeal

The Supreme Court today denied cert in the case of Guantanamo inmate Abdul al Qader Ahmed Hussain who said the lower court failed to exercise meaningful review in determining whether there were sufficient grounds to hold him at Gitmo. The lower court had ruled its authority was limited.

Justice Stephen Breyer issued a separate statement agreeing with the outcome but noting

The Court has not directly addressed whether theAUMF authorizes, and the Constitution permits, detention on the basis that an individual was part of al Qaeda,or part of the Taliban, but was not “engaged in an armed conflict against the United States” in Afghanistan prior to his capture. Nor have we considered whether, assuming detention on these bases is permissible, either the AUMF or the Constitution limits the duration of detention.

Breyer said since Hussein had not raised these issues, he was agreeing with the majority.

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R.I.P. Ruben "Hurricane" Carter" (Open Thread)


Bob Dylan - Hurricane - 1975 Live by movisfree

R.I.P Ruben "Hurricane" Carter, who died this weekend in Toronto of complications from prostate cancer at age 76.

Carter spent 19 years in prison for a triple killing in New Jersey before a federal judge ruled in 1985 that he and John Artis, who was with Carter on the night of the shootings, did not receive fair trials and released them.

Artis was with Carter when he died early Sunday morning.

This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Sunday :: April 20, 2014

Thousands Celebrate 4/20 in Denver

This is the first year of the 4/20 rally that marijuana is legal in Colorado, so it's not surprising there is a huge turnout at Civic Center Park in Denver. At 4:20 p.m., the tens of thousands of celebrators are expected to light up, even though it is still illegal to smoke pot in public. Organizers say between 50,000 and 80,000 are expected to attend over the two days.

There is also beefed-up police security for the two-day event. Yesterday, police issued 22 tickets for public consumption. Today, as of 4:10 pm, 37 were issued, with 31 of them for public consumption violations. (It's a civil, not criminal violation.)

Here's a photo of the Denver Police Command Center as they watch events in real-time, "using about 50 TV screens that can flip back and forth to 138 HALO and 38 traffic cameras." (via Denver Post)

Check out Westword's gallery of photos of the epic event. [More...]

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Friday :: April 18, 2014

Friday Night Open Thread

I've got the grill going (Asian Steak and Watermelon and Arugula Salad over rice noodles with peanuts on top).

What's on your agenda for this holiday weekend?

This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Murdered Denver Woman On Phone With 911 for 13 Minutes

Why did it take Denver Police officers more than 15 minutes to arrive at the home of Kristine Kirk? She was dead by the time they got there. She spent her last 13 minutes of life on the phone with 911.

Kirk called 911 at 9:31 pm. She grew more panicked as the call progressed. She told the operator her husband was hallucinating and had taken drugs, there were kids in the house, he said he wanted her to shoot him, he went to take the gun out of the safe, and then, that he had the gun and she didn't know where to go. Those were her last words before being shot to death. Police finally arrived but it was too late.

The Kirk's home is 1.1 miles from the local police station -- a 3 minute drive. [More...]

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Thursday :: April 17, 2014

Congrats to Chelsea Clinton and Husband Marc

Chelsea Clinton announced today she and husband Marc Mezvinsky are expecting a child.

Hillary and Bill are of course, excited. Hillary tweeted:

“My most exciting title yet: Grandmother-To-Be!”

The new addition to the family is due "sometime later this year."

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Thursday Night Open Thread

Just getting home from work and I see our last open thread is full. Here's another one. All topics welcome.

I hope to get something substantive posted after checking the news later tonight.

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Wednesday :: April 16, 2014

Wednesday Night Open Thread

There was a hearing today in the case of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

John Edwards is back in the courtroom - practicing law.

El Capo is about to begin. It's really hard to understand without captions. I wish there was an episode review guide somewhere.

Here's an open thread, all topics welcome.

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