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News Scan

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Flag burning is still a crime, notwithstanding Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397 (1989), if the perpetrator sneaks around in the wee hours burning other people's flags. Lindsey Baguio has this story in the Orange County (Cal.) Register. See Cal. Penal Code ยง 451.

Bite-mark analysis got a deservedly bad rep after some high-profile false positives. Todd Richmond of AP reports on an attempt to bring it back from ignominy.

Cyber bully Lori Drew of Missouri was indicted by a federal grand jury in Los Angeles, "Invoking a criminal statute more commonly used to go after computer hackers or crooked government employees," report Scott Glover and P.J. Huffstutter for the LA Times. The case raises both substantive and venue questions.

Ninth Circuit Habeas: The Ninth Circuit has granted rehearing en banc in Hayward v. Marshall, No. 06-55392, a habeas case in which the panel ruled for the petitioner. That is unusual enough in the Ninth (though less so than it used to be), but this was not a particularly pro-prisoner panel: Kozinski, Gould, and Friedman (visiting from Fed. Cir.). The case involves the governor's power to block parole after it has been granted by the [whatever it's named this week] board, a frequent source of litigation.

20th Hijacker: The WashPost has this editorial on the dismissal of charges against Mohammed al-Qahtani, who was supposed to be the 20th hijacker on 9/11, due to the coerced nature of his interrogation.

Surveillance cameras: Here is a new wrinkle in the debate over whether surveillance cameras are effective as crime-fighting measures. Richmond, California (north of Oakland) has a new set of cameras that are monitored by computer. When the software spots something that might need attention, it alerts the police to take a closer look, Demian Bulwa reports for the SF Chron.

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I'm guessing the Ninth may not want to be a super parole board. It's one thing to toss convictions because (a) that's an accepted function of courts and (b) their responsibility for the consequences of the tossing of the sentence is attenuated (or more accurately, can be argued to be attenuated). When the Court is a parole board and the guy goes out and hurts someone, then the heat will be a lot more.

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