US law: Federal
CISPA / TPP / ACTA / SOPA / PIPA / COICA
Bill of Rights
US law: States
Boxed In: How a Criminal Record Keeps You Unemployed For Life People like Luis Rivera are being locked out of the formal workforce forever thanks to one youthful mistake. (Reuters/John Gress) This article was reported in partnership with the Investigative Fund of the Nation Institute. Luis Rivera had some peace of mind for about five months, from late fall of 2010 through early spring of the following year. That’s the closest thing he’s seen to financial stability in more than twenty years.
A politically ambitious Justice Department official who oversaw the criminal case against Aaron Swartz has come under fire for alleged prosecutorial abuses that led the 26-year-old online activist to take his own life . Carmen Ortiz, 57, the U.S. attorney for Massachusetts who was selected by President Obama, compared the online activist -- accused of downloading a large number of academic papers -- to a common criminal in a 2011 press release. "Stealing is stealing whether you use a computer command or a crowbar," Ortiz said at the time. Prosecutor in Aaron Swartz 'hacking' case comes under fire | Politics and Law
I did not know Aaron Swartz, unless you count having copies of a person’s entire digital life on your forensics server as knowing him. I did once meet his father, an intelligent and dedicated man who was clearly pouring his life into defending his son. My deepest condolences go out to him and the rest of Aaron’s family during what must be the hardest time of their lives. If the good that men do is oft interred with their bones, so be it, but in the meantime I feel a responsibility to correct some of the erroneous information being posted as comments to otherwise informative discussions at Reddit, Hacker News and Boing Boing. Apparently some people feel the need to self-aggrandize by opining on the guilt of the recently departed, and I wanted to take this chance to speak on behalf of a man who can no longer defend himself.
In this case, unlike the telecommunications sector, it’s not the federal government with the “collect it all” mentality; it’s the private sector, arguably doing an even better and more thorough job than the government ever could, potentially with even fewer scruples. The private companies have figured out how to leverage enormous value out of what has historically been public — but uncollectable and unmanageable — information by gathering it into databases that put incredibly detailed and revealing personal information at a paying user’s fingertips. In this case, the act of driving through an intersection, being anywhere near a police car, or parking on the street — not to mention passing through a toll booth — now leaves a digital residue that you don’t own, and that someone else can seize, use, and sell. Carmen Ortiz and Stephen Heymann: accountability for prosecutorial abuse | Glenn Greenwald | Rights & Liberties
Here was a typical Twitter message: “15% of Cincinnati’s Fire Dept browned out today to help pay for a streetcar boondoggle. If you think it’s a waste of money, VOTE YES on 48.” Mr. Miller, 46, a mechanical engineer, said he expected a debate. What he got instead was a legal action from supporters of the streetcar project under an Ohio law that forbids false statements in political campaigns. In the end, Mr. Honest Hyperbole and Free Speech - Adam Liptak
Comment: Stolen Valor and Super PACs A peculiar law with a mellifluous name will meet its doom before the Supreme Court this week. The reasons why will tell us something about the Presidential campaign. To explain: Congress passed the Stolen Valor Act in 2005 to address a distasteful, if not exactly earth-shaking, problem. News reports had revealed several cases of would-be politicians and other prominent people who had falsely claimed to be decorated war heroes. The new law made such lies a crime.
Chris Hedges: Why I’m Suing Barack Obama - Chris Hedges' Columns Why I’m Suing Barack Obama Posted on Jan 16, 2012 AP / Dusan Vranic Detainees pray at the U.S. military detention facility known as Camp Bucca in Iraq in this 2009 photo.
What makes our NDAA lawsuit a struggle to save the US constitution | Tangerine Bolen | Comment is free I am one of the lead plaintiffs in the civil lawsuit against the National Defense Authorization Act, which gives the president the power to hold any US citizen anywhere for as long as he wants, without charge or trial. In a May hearing, Judge Katherine Forrest issued an injunction against it; this week, in a final hearing in New York City, US government lawyers asserted even more extreme powers – the right to disregard entirely the judge and the law. On Monday 6 August, Obama's lawyers filed an appeal to the injunction – a profoundly important development that, as of this writing, has been scarcely reported. In the earlier March hearing, US government lawyers had confirmed that, yes, the NDAA does give the president the power to lock up people like journalist Chris Hedges and peaceful activists like myself and other plaintiffs. Government attorneys stated on record that even war correspondents could be locked up indefinitely under the NDAA.
By now you will have read that self-described 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other alleged plotters will shortly have their day in court. Well, in a sort of a court, the kind where the rules have been made up on the fly (by Congress, no less!) and where convictions are all but guaranteed. It is a system that may one day be operating not just in the confines of Guantanamo prison, but here in the USA, so we should all be paying close attention. The degradation of justice
Jurors Can Say No IF you are ever on a jury in a marijuana case, I recommend that you vote “not guilty” — even if you think the defendant actually smoked pot, or sold it to another consenting adult. As a juror, you have this power under the Bill of Rights; if you exercise it, you become part of a proud tradition of American jurors who helped make our laws fairer. The information I have just provided — about a constitutional doctrine called “jury nullification” — is absolutely true. But if federal prosecutors in New York get their way, telling the truth to potential jurors could result in a six-month prison sentence.
US law enforcement & criminal justice
The House Judiciary Committee passed a bill yesterday that would make it a federal crime for U.S. residents to discuss or plan activities on foreign soil that, if carried out in the U.S., would violate the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) -- even if the planned activities are legal in the countries where they're carried out. H.R. 313, the "Drug Trafficking Safe Harbor Elimination Act of 2011," is sponsored by Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), and allows prosecutors to bring conspiracy charges against anyone who discusses, plans or advises someone else to engage in any activity that violates the CSA, the massive federal law that prohibits drugs like marijuana and strictly regulates prescription medication. U.S. Drug Policy Would Be Imposed Globally By New House Bill