Criminal Law Newsletter September 2017

The following is a compendium of news reports over the past month that may be of interest to our AG offices who are involved with criminal law issues. Neither the National Association of Attorneys General nor the National Association of Attorneys General Training & Research Institute expresses a view as to the accuracy of news accounts, nor as to the positions expounded by the authors of the hyperlinked articles. 

Policy

President Trump issued an Executive Order August 28, 2017, revoking the previous administration’s limitations on the Federal Support for Local Law Enforcement Equipment Acquisition program. The action restores the program whereby surplus military equipment and weapons were made available to state, tribal and local law enforcement agencies. Attorney General Sessions announced the move at the Fraternal Order of Police Conference in Nashville.

Enforcement

Authorities have announced formation of a working group to fight Hurricane Harvey-related illegal activity. The group includes a variety of federal law enforcement agencies as well as state authorities, including Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. The group will investigate and prosecute illegal activity related to Hurricane Harvey.

Legislation

California has adopted legislation regarding public disclosure of certain grand jury materials relating to law enforcement officers. The law requires disclose all or a part of a grand jury indictment proceeding transcript, excluding the grand jury’s private deliberations and voting, if the grand jury decides not to return an indictment in a grand jury inquiry into an offense that involves a shooting or use of excessive force by a peace officer, as defined, that led to the death of a person being detained or arrested by the peace officer, except as specified. The bill was signed into law September 1, 2017.

Court Opinions

A Vermont judge has ruled that Google must turn over evidence in cases of alleged sexual exploitation of children. Google refused to provide data from servers outside the United States, relying on a ruling from the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Unites States v. Microsoft, 829 F.3d 197 (2d Cir. 2016). The judge’s ruling was based upon the Vermont Electronic Communications Privacy Act, holding the state law did not allow tech companies to avoid search warrants on the basis that the data was stored in foreign countries. The matter has been appealed to the Vermont Supreme Court.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich and a coalition of 19 other state attorneys general have filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in opposition to the law enforcement gag order issued in the matter of David Daleiden and Center for Medical Progress v. National Abortion Federation, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 5472 (9th Cir. Mar. 29, 2017). The underlying case involves videos made by an anti-abortion group whose leaders are facing felony charges in California for recording people without permission. At the center of the amicus brief is the impact of non-disclosure agreements on communication with law enforcement and law enforcement’s ability to receive information.

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia H. Coffman’s office will appeal on behalf of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation after the U.S. District Court judge's decision in Millard, et al. v. Rankin, No. 1:13-cv-02406-RPM Document 106 (D. Col. August 31, 2017). The district court had concluded that Colorado Sex Offender Registration Act requiring three sex offenders to register was an unconstitutional additional punishment that was disproportionate to the crimes committed.

Other Items of Interest

The Arizona Attorney General’s Office Forensic Science Advisory Committee has also announced the next installment of their Arizona Forensic Science Webinar Series: Beyond CODIS Hits: How DNA Can Be Used to Develop Leads and Solve Crimes. This is a free lecture and is for forensic science practitioners including forensic scientists, prosecutors, defense lawyers, judges, and other criminal justice partners. The lecture will be held on September 25, 2017 from 12:00 pm to 1:30 pm (Arizona Time).


Mark Neil is the Editor of Criminal Law Newsletter and may be reached at 202-326-6019. The Criminal Law Newsletter is a publication of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG). Any use and/or copies of this newsletter in whole or in part must include the customary bibliographic citation. NAAG retains copyright and all other intellectual property rights in the material presented in this publication. For content submissions or to contact the editor directly, please e-mail mneil@naag.org.

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