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Bill Introduced to Set Uniform National Standard for Evidence Production in Federal Courts: John R. Emshwiller and Gary Fields of the Wall Street Journal report Senator Lisa Murkowski (R - Alaska) this month introduced a bill in the Senate to set a single national standard for prosecutors in federal criminal cases to share evidence with defendants that points toward possible innocence. There are currently a variety of policies and practices across the 94 federal judicial districts in the nation regarding how much "exculpatory" material must be turned over to defendants. Murkowski says the aim is to "provide for a level of uniformity" and "make sure constitutional rights are fully protected." The introduction of the bill coincides with the release of a report that criticizes the Justice Department's handling of evidence in the 2008 trial of Senator Ted Stevens on charges related to financial disclosures. The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on the report on Wednesday. The national standard would be more defendant-friendly than what currently exists in many jurisdictions, and a Justice Departments spokeswoman said officials have "significant concerns about the impact of the bill on victims, witnesses and the criminal law enforcement process."

States Ask Supreme Court to Overturn Arizona Immigration Law:
Bob Egelko of the San Francisco Chronicle reports California Attorney General Kamala Harris and officials from ten other states have joined together to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Arizona's immigration law, which is scheduled to be heard on April 25. The officials say the law surpasses state authority, would interfere with a uniform national approach to immigration, and would drive illegal immigrants in Arizona into other states. The brief said, "Arizona is impermissibly attempting to chart its own course in the identification, apprehension and detention of undocumented immigrants for purposes of expelling them from the state." The states argue that since Arizona can't force the federal government to deport anyone, its law would redirect illegal immigrants to other states.

Homeowner Charged for Shooting Burglar: of the Chicago Tribune report 80-year-old Homer "Tank" Wright of Chicago was charged with unlawful use of a weapon after shooting a burglar in the leg. According to police, the suspect broke through some plywood over a bathroom window to steal liquor from Wright's bar. "It's wrong," said Wright after being released from jail. "Unjust that I can't protect me." Wright said the bar he owns had been broken into several times, and he and his wife had started sleeping at the property to protect it. At a news conference held by neighbors to call on prosecutors to drop the charges, Darryl Smith asked, "If a man can't defend himself from harm, what can he do?" "If he hadn't defended himself, we would be here for a different reason -- because an intruder came in and killed him," Smith said.

Mississippi Executes Second Murderer Last Week: Robbie Ward of Reuters reports William "Jerry" J. Mitchell was executed in Mississippi last Thursday, the second execution in the state that week. In 1995, Mitchell sexually assaulted and brutally murdered a convenience store clerk. Her body was found under a bridge. Court records show she had been beaten, strangled, sexually assaulted, crushed by a car, and mutilated. At the time of the murder, Mitchell was on parole for a previous murder conviction. He was pronounced dead at 6:20 p.m. local time Thursday.

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