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Georgia Supreme Court Halts Execution:  In yesterday's NewsScan we posted that the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles has declined to stay the execution of Carlton Gary, but last night, on Sentencing Law and Policy, Doug Berman reported that the Georgia Supreme Court halted the execution.  The court ordered a judge to hold a hearing to address Gary's request for DNA testing.  Berman posts that Gary's stay marks the end of executions in 2009, and puts the final execution tally at 52 for 2009.  He writes that the number is "still well below the average of roughly 70 executions per year for the decade from 1995 to 2005." 

Terror Trials in D.C.:  On Blog of Legal Times, Jordan Weissmann reports that Chief Judge Royce Lamberth of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia believes that D.C.'s federal courthouse could be used as a site for prosecuting Guantanamo detainees.  According to Judge Lamberth, the government is looking into security at the courthouse, and weighing whether to try detainees in D.C.'s federal courthouse.  Lamberth's remarks were made at a breakfast this morning hosted by the American Bar Association.  He commented on the terrorism cases which have been handled successfully by U.S. judges, including the prosecution of the four men convicted for bombing the U.S. Embassy in Kenya.  With regard to the Kenya bombings, Judge Lamberth asked, "Wasn't that a war-like act?  Wasn't that Al-Qaeda declaring war on us? And yet we tried them successfully in the federal courts."

Changing the Fourth Amendment Debate With "A Single Sentence":  That's what PrawfsBlawg writer Fabio Arcila thinks happened in last term's traffic stop case, Arizona v. Johnson.  In his post, Arcila writes that "with one blithe sentence" the Supreme Court "wiped off the law books an entire jurisprudential debate."  He comments that in the past the Supreme Court has often likened traffic stops to Terry stops, and states like Illinois had relied on Terry to prevent police from inquiring about matters unrelated to the traffic stop.  Arcila believes that a single sentence in Johnson - "An officer's inquiries into matters unrelated to the justification for the traffic stop, this Court has made plain, do not convert the encounter into something other than a lawful seizure, so long as those inquiries do not measurably extend the duration of the stop" - ended this reliance.  According to Arcila, post-Johnson, it is possible for police to "ask about your drug or alcohol use, or whether you have firearms or any other contraband in the car..." and your only protection "is that the inquiries cannot 'measurably extend the duration of the stop.' "  That's not entirely true.  Arcila forgets to point out another important sentence in Johnson.  This one pays heed to Terry and says, "[t]o justify a patdown of the driver or a passenger during a traffic stop, however, just as in the case of a pedestrian reasonably suspected of criminal activity, the police must harbor reasonable suspicion that the person subjected to the frisk is armed and dangerous."  Our brief in Johnson is available here.  

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