Posts Tagged ‘due process’

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Indefinite Detention Bill

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

Criminal defense attorneys should take note of recent happenings on Capitol Hill, as the U.S. House of Representatives has passed the Indefinite Detention Bill, more formally known as the National Defense Authorization Act (the NDAA). The NDAA is a $622 billion defense spending bill.  This year’s passage of the NDAA is controversial due to language in the bill (specifically, sections 1031 and 1032) allowing for indefinite detention of certain persons. To read the full version of the bill, click here.  (Note: This version may not be the final version passed by Congress, as the Senate has yet to vote.)

The U.S. Senate is expected to pass the bill later today. (Ironically, December 15th will be the 220th anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights.)

To read more about the Indefinite Detention Bill, check out this article by Michael McAuliff, a reporter from Huffington Post.

The ACLU has urged President Obama to veto the bill, claiming that this bill is a return to McCarthy-era tactics.  Laura W. Murphy, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office has stated:

“The president should more carefully consider the consequences of allowing this bill to become law…If President Obama signs this bill, it will damage both his legacy and American’s reputation for upholding the rule of law. The last time Congress passed indefinite detention legislation was during the McCarthy era and President Truman had the courage to veto that bill. We hope that the president will consider the long view of history before codifying indefinite detention without charge or trial.”

Interestingly, the ACLU has also posted a video to their website which shows some compiled statements made by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) in support of the bill.

 

As of today, it appears as though President Obama will sign the bill into law when it lands on his desk.  Criminal defense attorneys should be wary of this legislation as it thwarts a detainee’s constitutional rights to due process, such as rights to speedy trial and rights to an attorney.

Matthews Law Firm, P.A. will track the further passage of this bill.

(Disclaimer: This post is not intended as legal advice nor does it create an attorney-client relationship.)

 

Criminal Blog Week Day 1–Sharia Criminal Law

Monday, April 11th, 2011

Being criminal defense attorneys in Bartow, we often represent clients who are originally from other countries or cultures.  These clients not only have questions about their case, but also about our system of criminal justice.  For example, when someone comes from a country where marijuana is legal, they do not understand why they are subjected to criminal punishment here for possession of the same drug.

Our firm recently gave a lecture on Sharia law and its impact on American jurisprudence.  As part of that presentation, we talked about how Sharia criminal law is different from American criminal law.  Perhaps these two systems are most different in their criminal punishment methods.  Regarding criminal punishment, Sharia is noted for its draconian executions, including its use of stoning, lashing and flogging.  Sharia scholars are quick to point out that these are not the only forms of punishment used by their courts, but are the ones most debated in the West as their methods are most contrary to our Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

Besides our methods of punishment, there are many differences between Sharia criminal court and American criminal court.  Here are just a few such differences:

In Sharia court, trials are conducted by the judge; there is no jury system.  There is no pre-trial discovery process, and no cross-examination of witnesses.  Rules of evidence are also vastly different, with Sharia giving priority to oral testimony over written documents/evidence.  On most charges, testimony must be established by two witnesses, preferably male witnesses.  (One exception is rape, which must be established by four eyewitnesses.)  A woman’s testimony is worth only 1/4-1/2 to that of a male.

Forensic evidence is rejected in many cases in Sharia courts, including fingerprints, ballistics, DNA and blood samples.

These rules can make it extremely difficult for women victims in all cases, but especially rape charges.

At the cost of sacrificing due process, Sharia courts significantly increase speed and efficiency of dockets.  But this is a price American criminal courts are unwilling to pay.

 

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