Duke Rape Case: All charges have been dropped against the Duke lacrosse players accused over a year ago of raping an exotic dance during a party. The Associated Press story reports how North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper gave a damning assessment of how District Attorney Mike Nifong handled the case.
Sentencing law in California is being threatened by Senator Gloria Romero's SB 110, which would create a sentencing commission with the power to set sentencing policy. A story by Andy Furilo in the Sacramento Bee reports that Romero is touting the bill as a way to ease prison overcrowding, which suggests her commission would release inmates and shorten sentences.
Cold Case Challenge The San Diego District Attorney is asking the Court of Appeal to overturn a judge's 2005 ruling to dismiss charges against a man suspected of murdering his parents in 1980. The cold case unit of the San Diego PD built the case according to a story in The Union Tribune by Jose Luis Jimenez. In her ruling, Superior Court Judge Joan Weber decided that the defendant could not receive a fair trial due to the lengthy delay and poor investigation conducted by the police department. Before the appellate court the District Attorney argues that defendants are entitled to a fair trial but not a perfect one.
The Supreme Court of West Virginia has ruled that convicted murderer Anthony Ray Whitt deserves a new trial since he was denied his constitutional right to confront a witness during his first trial. An article in the Charleston Daily Mail by Justin D. Anderson reports that Whitt originally admitted to bludgeoning his father's mistress to death in 2001, but later changed his story once he found out the actual cause of death. Whitt attempted to call his former girlfriend, Lorie Day, to the stand but was denied since she invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self incrimination. The state's highest court found this to be reversible error. A dissent by Justice Elliott "Spike" Maynard is available here.
The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that prosecutors can use evidence that is relevant to "consciousness of guilt" in the retrial of former NBA basketball player Jayson Williams. Reported in a story here, Williams allegedly attempted to conceal evidence by jumping into a pool and wiping down the shotgun that was used to shoot Costas "Gus" Christofi on Valentines Day in 2002. Williams was previously acquitted of aggravated manslaughter, but jurors could not reach an agreement on the charge of reckless manslaughter which he now faces in a re-trial.