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Blog Scan

Dodging Use of "Enemy Combatant":  Today's Wall Street Journal features an editorial on "Prisoners of W--."  The editorial discusses the Justice Department's decision to renounce the phrase "enemy combatant" and use a new, yet "identical," definition for individuals detained at Guantanamo Bay.  The Wall Street Journal criticizes the author of last week's Justice Department memorandum (discussed in last Friday's Blog Scan) for forsaking a simple definition for a far more complex definition.  Now, instead of detaining "enemy combatants," a term rooted in international law and custom, the President has the authority to detain "individuals captured in connection with armed conflicts and counterterrorism operations," or "members of enemy forces," or "persons who [the President] determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, and persons who harbored those responsible for the September 11 attacks."

Reliability of Eyewitness Identification:
  Hat tip to Howard Bashman at How Appealing for his post reporting on an audio segment on NPR's "Day to Day" discussing the reliability of eyewitness identification in criminal trials.  The segment, from Slate.com writer Dahlia Lithwick, dicusses research from Gary Wells and Deah Quinlivan.  Wells is a psychology professor from Iowa State University.  According to Lithwick, Wells' study shows that of the more than 230 people in the United States who were wrongfully convicted and later exonerated by DNA evidence, approximately 77 percent involved cases of mistaken eyewitness identification.  This is more than any other factor.  Wells and Quinlivan's study was published in last month's Law and Human Behavior.

A Call for Death Penalty Supporters to Speak Out:  In a post at Sentencing Law and Policy, Doug Berman writes: "[I]t appears that those constituents who are opposed to the death penalty made extra efforts to ensure [New Mexico] Governor Richardson heard their views."  Berman is referencing New Mexico's bill to repeal the death penalty, and the Governor's decision to hear from New Mexicans about the House Bill 285 before he takes action tonight.  According to a press release from the Governor's Office the Governor has heard from 9,400 people since the bill passed last Friday.  "Of those, 7169 were FOR the repeal of the death penalty and 2244 were AGAINST."  

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