A Maryland judge today granted a retrial to Adnan Syed, whose conviction for the 1999 murder of his former girlfriend was the subject of the first season of the popular podcast “Serial.”
Syed’s lawyer C. Justin Brown announced the news Thursday afternoon via Twitter, and confirmed to reporters later that the motion for a new trial was granted by Judge Martin Welch.
Freedom of the Press Foundation recently filed a huge brief in the organization's case demanding that the Justice Department release its secret rules for targeting journalists with National Security Letters. And in related news, a coalition of 37 news organizations - including the New York Times, The Associated Press, USA Today, Buzzfeed, and tons more - filed an amicus brief in support of the Freedom of the Press Foundation case, demanding that the Department of Justice do the same.
Former Stanford University athlete Brock Allen Turner, 20, raped an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. Prosecutors wanted him put away for 6 years, but the judge, Aaron Persky, gave him 6 months to avoid being unnecessarily harsh on the boy. He'll be out in a few weeks.
After a jury convicted Turner of sexually penetrating an intoxicated and unconscious person with a foreign object, prosecutors asked a judge to sentence him to six years in California prison. Probation officials had recommended the significantly lighter penalty of six months in county jail, according to the San Jose Mercury News.
The judge, Aaron Perksy, cited Turner’s age and lack of criminal history as factors in his decision, saying, “A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him … I think he will not be a danger to others.”
This was described as a "brazen" attack: he was physically forced off of his victim, then chased down and detained by passers-by until police arrived. Yet this column, by Scott Herhold, was the sort of coverage he enjoyed in the press:
Read the rest
Turner was rightfully convicted. I wrote a column earlier this year praising the two Stanford students, both from Sweden, who interrupted the assault and chased the drunken athlete down.
But probation officials, who see hundreds of less remorseful defendants, had it right. Turner should be given six months in county jail. He is not, as the prosecution has it, "a continued threat to the community." Why do I say that? The probation people cite his lack of a criminal record and what they see as genuine remorse.
On Wednesday, former Reuters.com social media editor Matthew Keys received a two year prison sentence for computer hacking. That's a sentence of 24 months, for a website defacement that lasted only 40 minutes, which Keys himself didn't even execute.
Earlier today in an unrelated high-profile case, the "affluenza teen" who actually murdered people also got two years in jail.
Today, President Obama met with Americans who have received commutations on prison sentences during his presidency, and under previous administrations. Today, Obama commuted the sentences of 61 more people who were convicted of federal drug and firearm crimes. More than than a third of them were serving life in prison.
New York City's Robin Hood Labs at Blue Ridge Laboratories have opening for paid fellowships to develop apps and technologies to give low-income people legal assistance in civil proceedings, like evictions, debt collection, and immigration procedures. Read the rest
Apple said no to the government, and the government is pissed.
Last year, Pittsburgh Police officer Sgt. Stephen Matakovich was captured on camera beating up a 19-year-old outside Heinz Field. After lying about the circumstances, he was charged with assault—only to find the charges dismissed last week by a judge.
When video of the attack found its way to the media, however, the story changed: police chief Cameron McLay has now suspended Matakovich and says he will fire him, while prosecutors are planning to refile charges against the officer.
WPXI 11 reports that it'll be hard to make it stick: Matakovich can appeal the decision to city executives who can overrule McLay, then take it to an arbitration panel, where he can select one of the three people tasked with the final decision.
Deja vu: in 2003, Matakovich was recorded threatening to assault a superior officer, but was let off the hook over his own supervisor's objections. Read the rest
Freedom of the Press Foundation has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Justice Department for all correspondence the agency has had with Congress over proposed FOIA reform bills that died last year in Congress, despite having unanimous support of all its members.
A New York man who spent a month in jail after Pennsylvania state police mistook homemade soap he was traveling with for cocaine has filed a lawsuit.
Arizona tried to illegally import a lethal injection drug that is banned in the U.S., but the state never got the drug after federal agents halted the shipment at Phoenix airport. The Associated Press has the documents, and the resulting scoop.
Arizona paid nearly $27,000 for sodium thiopental, an anesthetic that has been used to carry out executions but is no longer manufactured by FDA-approved companies, the documents said. When the drugs arrived via British Airways at the Phoenix International Airport in July, they were seized by federal officials and have not been released, according to the documents.
"The department is contesting FDA's legal authority to continue to withhold the state's execution chemicals," state Department of Corrections spokesman Andrew Wilder said Thursday.
Arizona and other death penalty states have been struggling to obtain legal execution drugs for several years after European companies refused to sell the drugs, including sodium thiopental, that have been used to carry out executions. States have had to change drug combinations or, in some cases, put executions on hold temporarily as they look for other options.
The Arizona documents obtained by the AP were released as part of a lawsuit against the corrections department over transparency in executions. The AP is a party in the lawsuit.
What's worse than courts demanding that poor people pay extortionate fines to the state for minor offense? Asking them to literally pay with their own blood.