The National Pulse

416 ABA Journal The National Pulse articles.

Attorneys lend skills to help current and former service members
Costly municipal fines and fees spark a movement for reform

Across the country, Americans are being hit with hefty fines and fees for petty violations, advocates for reform say, igniting a movement pressing for change. “Code enforcement exists to promote public health and safety, but the way we’re seeing it happen across the country right now is to make money,” Institute for Justice attorney Kirby Thomas West says.

Successful ballot measures for marijuana and other drugs create opportunities for lawyers
New laws aim to quash racial profiling in 911 calls

Rep. Janelle Bynum, a Black member of the Oregon House of Representatives, was inspired to sponsor a bill against racial profiling in 911 calls after someone called the police on her as she went door-to-door in a Portland suburb to speak to constituents in an effort to keep her seat in the state house. The incident prompted her to co-sponsor a bill to deter biased 911 calls, allowing civil claims for up to $250 in damages.

Friends remember Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her longtime association with the ABA

Over the years, Ginsburg received various ABA honors, including the Margaret Brent Award in 1993. In June of that year, President Bill Clinton announced her nomination to the Supreme Court. The nomination hearings were in July, and the Brent Award ceremony, which she attended, was in August. The same month, she took her seat on the Supreme Court.

Law enforcement is using location tracking on mobile devices to identify suspects, but is it unconstitutional?

The use of reverse location warrants with Google and other companies tracking location data has exploded since that type of warrant first was used by federal authorities in 2016. As the use of geofence warrants has grown, so have controversies surrounding them.

Oregon and Louisiana grapple with past criminal convictions made with split verdicts

In April, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Ramos v. Louisiana that split verdicts in state trials for serious criminal offenses violated the Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial, overturning a high court ruling in 1972 that upheld them. The effect of the court’s ruling in Ramos is that state courts will now vacate cases with split verdicts on direct appeal. Prosecutors will next decide whether to retry them. What is unclear is whether the ruling will apply retroactively.

Racial disparities in maternal mortality are exacerbated by COVID-19

New concerns about maternal risks in pregnancy emerged as COVID-19 plowed its way across the country this year. Maternal mortality across the spectrum shows stunning increases in the United States. The number of deaths has risen while declining in almost every other nation.

High-profile killings of unarmed Black people spark calls for reform

The seeds that inflamed America’s intense national debate over race and criminal justice were planted months before George Floyd was killed by police on a Minneapolis street in late May. The buildup to the country’s summer of civil unrest began in a quiet subdivision just outside of Brunswick, Georgia, where an unarmed Black man out jogging was shot and killed on Feb. 23 by two armed white men.

Can plaintiffs from other countries hold China legally accountable for the coronavirus pandemic in their respective courts?
New study looks at the prison system’s failure to address women’s health and safety behind bars
Do police drones foster trust or threaten civil rights and privacy?

Police say unmanned aerial systems can build trust in the community by deescalating incidents. Critics warn, however, that drones sow fear and distrust.

Fairness is an issue in clearing low-level marijuana convictions
Class actions and pending rules could change colleges’ sex assault procedures
States help trafficking survivors overcome criminal records

In recent years, Hawaii, Nebraska and Nevada introduced laws to help trafficking survivors clear their records and overcome obstacles to employment, housing and education. Other states, including Connecticut, Kansas, New Jersey and New York, are moving forward with more proposed legislation.

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