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Blog Scan

Some Point and Counterpoint Arguments to Legalizing Marijuana:  Ashby Jones writes on Wall Street Journal's Law Blog, that New Jersey could be the next state to allow residents to use marijuana, when recommended by a doctor, for relief from serious diseases and medical conditions.  According to Jones, New Jersey's Senate has approved the bill and the state Assembly is expected to follow. If the bill reaches the desk of Governor Jon Corzine before he leaves office it will probably become law.  A story by Suzanne Sataline provides more details. Instead of focusing on the politics surrounding the New Jersey legislation, Jones' post focuses on potential tax revenues states might take in were marijuana legalized and regulated.  Jones provides quotes from a "point/counterpoint" debate on whether legalizing and taxing marijuana is really worth the cost.  Stephen Easton writes for the "pro" side that taxing marijuana "could raise $40 billion to $100 billion in new revenue."  Bob Stutman then points out "studies show that the U.S. collects about $8 billion yearly in taxes from alcohol. The problem is, the total cost to the U.S. in 2008 due to alcohol-related problems was $185 billion..."

Sex Offenders in Nursing Homes:  At Sex Crimes, Corey Rayburn Yung provides a link to a Chicago Tribune article that reports many sex offenders living in Illinois' nursing homes are not on the state's sex offender registry.  The article, by David Jackson and Gary Marx, found that only 59 of the 192 sex offenders in Illinois nursing homes -- or less than one in three -- were listed on that online state registry.  The two report that state investigators have documented more than a dozen instances since 2007 in which nursing homes failed to notify local law enforcement that they housed a convicted sex offender, as required by law, or failed to implement care plans to monitor and treat sex offenders inside the facilities.  Jackson and Marx also note that in some cases unregistered offenders have allegedly molested vulnerable residents and even staff. 

Department of Justice Census on Public Defenders' Office:  The American Constitution Society posts a link to the Department of Justice's Census for Public Defender Offices, 2007, and a description of the report by Matt Kelly, the Online Communications Director for the Innocence Project.  The report looks at public defender office staffing, caseloads, expenditures, and standards and guidelines used by the nearly 1,000 public defender offices found across 49 states and the District of Columbia.  Kelly writes that Public Defender Offices have had it rough this year because of staffing cuts, he writes, "BJS study found that the 17,000 attorneys in 2007 were aided by 11,000 support staff - from secretaries to file clerks to investigators and paralegals."  He mentions that prosecutors' offices are feeling the pinch too.  A 2005 DOJ report found that half the prosecutors' offices Nationwide employed 9 or fewer people and had a budget of $355,000 or less.

Amendments to Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure Take Effect Today:  Howard Bashman writes on How Appealing that "[t]oday is the first day of the so-called 'days are days' approach to calculating time."  Now, when the rules speak of "days" in the calculation of time, the rules will mean calendar days regardless of the length of the period at issue. The amendments are available here.  

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