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Trump Supreme Court List All Conservative Federal, State Judges

The names on Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's Supreme Court list are mostly not household names, not even in legal households, says NPR. The move was seen as an effort to assuage Republican suspicions that he would not choose genuine conservatives to fill Supreme Court vacancies. Trump said he planned to use the list as a "guide" for filling not just the Antonin Scalia seat but potentially as many as three other seats that could come open during the next president's tenure. Three justices are in their late 70s and early 80s. Nan Aron of the liberal Alliance for Justice said the list included "some of the most extreme conservatives on the federal bench today." White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said, "I would be surprised if there are any Democrats who would describe those individuals as 'consensus nominees.' " 

Conservative activists and Senate Republicans welcomed the Trump list warmly. Carrie Severino of the conservative Judicial Crisis Network said the judges on the list "share in common a record of putting the law and the Constitution ahead of their political preferences." The list includes six federal judges, all appointed by President George W. Bush, and five conservative state Supreme Court justices. The federal judges are Steven Colloton of Iowa, Raymond Gruender of Missouri, Thomas Hardiman of Pennsylvania, Raymond Kathledge of Michigan, William Pryor of Alabama, and Diane Sykes of Wisconsin. The five state Supreme Court justices are Allison Eid of Colorado, Joan Larsen of Michigan, Thomas Lee of Utah, David Stras of Minnesota, and Don Willett of Texas. Several well-known conservative judges and lawyers failed to make the list.

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"Pound Of Flesh": Many Released Prisoners Face Fines, Fees, Penalties

When you're convicted of a crime, it's not just prison time you may face, There are fines, fees, and other cash penalties. When you get out, they'll be waiting, reports Bloomberg Businessweek. Kathie was a 49-year-old ex-convict when University of Washington sociologist Alexes Harris interviewed her in 2009. She was sharing a three-bedroom home with three of her four children, her estranged husband, and his father. Kathie left prison owing $11,000, but the sum had grown to $20,000 because of collection surcharges, private collection fees, and a 12 percent interest rate. She had a low-paying job that didn't leave her a prayer of paying off the whole sum.

Harris writes about Kathie and other hard-luck cases in Pound of Flesh: Monetary Sanctions as Punishment for the Poor, a book to be published next month by the Russell Sage Foundation. "The story of my research—the story that must be told—is that our 21st century criminal justice system stains people’s lives forever," she writes. "The permanent stain results not just from a criminal conviction and the related societal stigma but also from the financial debt, constant surveillance, and related punishment incurred by monetary sanctions." Harris is collaborating with professors in seven other states—California, Georgia, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, and Texas. Each plans to drill down into court practices in three counties and three municipalities in their respective states. "There are no large data sets, so you have to get into the courtrooms to see what's happening," Harris says.

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GOP Misstated Claim On Clinton Laughing About Rape Sentence: Post

An ad released by the National Republican Senatorial Committee last Friday asserts that as a criminal defense lawyer in the 1970s, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton "defended an accused child rapist, then laughed about his lenient sentence." The Washington Post's fact checker gives the GOP "three pinocchios" for this statement. The Post says Clinton did defend a child rapist four decades ago, but a tape recording that includes laughter "is open to interpretation; certainly some might find it disturbingly lighthearted. But it’s a stretch to say she laughed about the sentence."

ABC News reported in 2014 that, "“Clinton is heard laughing as she describes how she succeeded at getting her client a lighter sentence, despite suggesting she knew he was guilty." Clinton certainly laughs during the conversation but at no point does she laugh specifically about the sentence, the Post says. The fact checker adds that, "Clinton’s recollections may strike some listeners as callous or cynical about the legal process, especially because she implies her client was guilty."


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DOJ Probe Into Russian Athlete Doping--Is U.S. The "World's Prosecutor"?

The disclosure that the U.S. Justice Department is looking into allegations of doping by Russian athletes is a fresh example of American law enforcement reaching beyond U.S. borders to target corruption, says the Washington Post. Experts call it a noble effort that opens the U.S. up to more criticism about trying to serve as the world’s prosecutor. In recent months, DOJ has assigned 10 new prosecutors to work exclusively on foreign bribery cases, while the FBI has created three squads dedicated to international corruption. The department has proposed legislation to give prosecutors more tools to ferret out such wrongdoing.

While federal prosecutors’ efforts have long been focused on corrupt foreign businesses and elected officials, they have also shown a willingness to examine wrongdoing in sports. Prosecutors in the Eastern District of New York, where the investigation of Russian doping is apparently based, are in the midst of a a massive case against high-ranking officials at FIFA, the organization responsible for the regulation of soccer worldwide. “It’s part of our culture of wanting to bring democracy and transparency to the world,” said Andrew Spalding, a law professor at the University of Richmond. “We really stretch jurisdictional principles. Whether we should be doing that is an open question.” The probe involving Russian doping was first reported by CBS News and the New York Times.

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Woman Sues DOJ Over Failure To Track, Disclose D.C. Conviction Rates

A resident of Washington, D.C.'s Capitol Hill neighborhood has sued the U.S. Justice Department seeking information on what happens to the thousands of people arrested each year in connection with a host of crimes, including robbery and murder, the Washington Post reports. It is the latest move in Denise Rucker Krepp’s six-month campaign to force federal prosecutors to disclose conviction rates to the public. Federal authorities denied her Freedom of Information Act request, saying the U.S. attorney’s office “does not track this information and has no means of searching for or retrieving” it. Krepp appealed, and prosecutors said they would attempt to obtain the data but not in the format she had requested.

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COPS, Not DOJ Civil-Rights Division, Will Review North Charleston SC Police

The U.S. Department of Justice will review North Charleston, S.C.’s police force, which the Charleston Post and Courier calls "a bid to assuage community concerns that Walter Scott’s shooting pushed into the national spotlight." They spoke yesterday of examining procedures on traffic stops, uses of force and misconduct investigations. A topic they didn’t bring up: Scott, whose death moved city officials to ask for help from the U.S. Department of Justice. It’s an omission that the city’s longtime critics fear will characterize the more than two-year analysis. The collaborative reform initiative by the Justice Department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services will not look into allegations of unconstitutional policing, the detractors’ lead complaint for the past decade.

Ed Bryant, president of the North Charleston NAACP branch, said the measure is ironic in light of last week’s civil rights indictment of the policeman who killed Scott. The DOJ assessment, which typically comes with a period of public comment, will start immediately and last six or eight months, said Noble Wray, the COPS program’s director of policing practices. Most of the outside experts will come from the Police Foundation, a Washington-based nonprofit that does the work under a government contract. The effort is different from a “pattern-or-practice” investigation by the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, which targets ingrained unconstitutional policing at agencies.

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Judge Says D.C. Can't Require "Good Reason" To Get Firearm Permit

A federal judge ruled that a key provision of Washington, D.C.’s new gun law is probably unconstitutional, ordering D.C. police to stop requiring individuals to show “good reason” to obtain a permit to carry a firearm on the streets of the nation’s capital, the Washington Post reports. U.S. District Judge Richard Leon found that the law violates the “core right of self-defense” granted in the Second Amendment, rejecting arguments from District officials that the regulation is needed to prevent crime and protect the public. “The enshrinement of constitutional rights necessarily takes certain policy choices off the table,” Leon wrote, quoting a 5-to-4 Supreme Court decision in 2008 in another D.C. case that established a constitutional right to keep firearms inside one’s home. Leon said the right applies both inside and outside the home.

“The District’s understandable, but overzealous, desire to restrict the right to carry in public a firearm for self-defense to the smallest possible number of law-abiding, responsible citizens is exactly the type of policy choice the Justices had in mind,” he wrote. Leon’s opinion reignited a running debate over the Second Amendment in the capital. Three different judges have come to different conclusions about the law, and gun rights advocates have made the city a main front in battles over gun-control measures. The Supreme Court has yet to decide whether permitting systems like the District’s for carrying firearms in public are constitutional. D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine said D.C. will ask to have Leon’s decision put on hold while the city appeals. Racine said D.C’s laws are “reasonable and necessary to ensure public safety in a dense urban environment.”

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TCR at a Glance

Life After Prison: Opting In or Opting Out

special report May 23, 2016

In Part 4 of our podcast series, Lorenzo Brooks faces the challenges of navigating a now-unfamiliar world he left behind when he went to ...