October 2015 Archives

Mitigating circumstance may have helped Moorhead mom in drug case

Anyone who has been exposed to the Law & Order television franchise or any other legal drama for that matter has probably heard the term "mitigating circumstances." This is a factor in the justice arena that is intended to give judges some measure of latitude when meting out sentences in criminal cases if circumstances seem to suggest that some measure of mercy is called for.

Sex offender laws challenged outside of Minnesota, too - concl.

We are taking about a lawsuit filed recently against the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation about state-wide restrictions placed on registered sex offender parolees on Halloween. CDCR has conducted Operation Boo for more than 20 years, according to the department's website. The program requires the parolees to observe a curfew on Halloween night and prohibits them from handing out candy or putting up Halloween decorations. They may only open the door to a law enforcement officer -- and law enforcement officers keep an extra eye on parolees' homes to make sure the rules are followed.

Sex offender laws challenged outside of Minnesota, too

We are following up on a series of posts from August about the proposed reforms to the Minnesota Sex Offender Program (Changes are gonna come slowly for MSOP). U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank found the program unconstitutional earlier in the summer, and he was awaiting recommendations from the plaintiffs and the state before making his own recommendations for restructuring of and improvements to the program. 

Does every contested divorce in Minnesota go to trial? p. 2

We are talking about the use of alternative dispute resolution in contested divorces. Minnesota has a fairly long history of creative approaches to managing this kind of conflict. The goal is always to minimize the pain of tense negotiations; ADR may also speed up the process and reduce the overall cost of the divorce.

Does every contested divorce in Minnesota go to trial?

There are some divorces that are so complicated or so contentious that going to trial is the best course of action. A couple of years ago, for example, Frank and Jamie McCourt's divorce involved intricate business dealings -- over the ownership of the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team -- and a number of confusing post-nuptial promises and agreements. There were matters of law that were best left to a judge.

Domestic abuse allegations and their impact on child custody determinations

Many people are aware that courts take into account a wide variety of factors when making child custody determinations. Collectively, these factors are referred to as the best interests of the child. Included in the statutory list of these factors is everything from the medical, mental health and educational needs of the child to the willingness and ability of each parent to provide ongoing care for the child and to cooperate with the other parent.

Drug crime sentencing in line for a partial overhaul p2

We are talking about a Senate bill announced last week that could make long-hoped for changes to the sentencing system. The bill was crafted by a bipartisan group of Senators in what commentators have called a rare instance of collaboration. Mandatory sentences for low-level drug crimes have been blamed for ballooning corrections budgets and unprecedented growth in prison population.

Drug crime sentencing in line for a partial overhaul

There may be hope for Minnesota's nonviolent drug offenders who have been caught in the mandatory minimum sentencing trap. A bipartisan group led by Judiciary Committee chair Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has introduced a bill that would change some of the more onerous aspects of sentencing for nonviolent drug crimes. Among the provisions is the elimination of the "three-strikes" mandatory life sentence and the introduction of a process that would make early release possible for some inmates. 

As time goes by: Can you be arrested for a crime committed years ago? p2

Inspector Javert, the incorruptible policeman in Victor Hugo's Les Misérables, makes it his life's work to track down Jean Valjean. For literature students, at least, Javert is the embodiment of relentless pursuit. It matters not what Valjean's crime is: The man has broken the law and must be brought to justice. After a few chapters, we can't even remember what Valjean's crime was.

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