FROM Justin Brooks
Forensic Testimony Called Into Question Crime lab scenes on television are full of forensic mumbo jumbo -- and now it seems that the real-life experts at the FBI have been making stuff up too. The FBI and the Justice Department have announced that agency experts’ bad testimony helped convict hundreds of suspects of murder, rape, and other violent crimes. In 32 of those cases, defendants received the death penalty. And 14 of those have been executed or died in prison. The main problem is hair analysis, which turns out to be not very accurate.
Three Strikes and the Voice of the Voters California's Three Strikes law was first passed in 1994, at a time of anxiety over violent crime. Offenders previously convicted of two violent or serious crimes could be sentenced to 25 years to life for any third conviction. Now, state prisons are so overcrowded that federal courts have ordered population reduction, but the state's voters may be ahead of the game. By huge margins in all 58 counties on November 6, they modified Three Strikes by passing Proposition 36 . We hear from Michael Romano, Director of the Three Strikes Project at Stanford Law School, who co-authored that measure, and from Justin Brooks, Director of the Institute for Criminal Defense Advocacy at California Western School of Law, which won release of the first nonviolent offender .
Why Do Innocent People Plead Guilty? The Sixth Amendment guarantees a fair trial to every American accused of a crime. But trials are no longer the basis of the criminal justice system. A US Supreme Court majority has said it's not trial by jury that determines "who goes to jail and for how long," it's plea bargaining. More than 90 percent of criminal cases are decided by plea bargains — and many people plead guilty — even when they're innocent. Do they know what they're doing? Are the law and the justice system rigged to favor the prosecution? What would happen if every defendant demanded a jury trial?
House Republicans release their Obamacare replacement As two House committees take up "repeal and replacement" of "Obamacare," there may be life left in the Affordable Care Act after all. Even Republicans are divided, and proposed changes won't make good on President Trump's promise to provide "health insurance for everybody."
America's top diplomat faces challenges in Asia Whatever happened to America's "pivot to Asia?" That's just one of the questions left hanging since Rex Tillerson's first trip there as Secretary of State. Is the Trump Administration hoping to change Foreign Policy or maintain the status quo?
Getting answers on phone taps, Russia and leaking The Directors of the FBI and the NSA testified on Capitol Hill today there's no evidence for President Trump's claim he was wire-tapped by former President Obama. We'll hear about that and the investigation into Russian tampering with last year's presidential campaign.
Trump's travel ban and the long-term agenda The Trump Administration's revised travel ban may be good news for some visa holders and others, but it's still being challenged as unconstitutional. Some reporters call it the beginning of a long-term effort to change the demographic make-up of the United States.