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Controversial Louisiana Law Makes Targeting Police a Hate Crime

A new law in Louisiana makes it a hate crime to target law enforcement and emergency personnel. The bill making these professions a protected class -- dubbed Blue Lives Matter -- was reportedly proposed in response to the Black Lives Matter movement criticizing police brutality in the black community. It is the first of its kind in the country.

Hate crime legislation makes punishments more severe when crimes target a protected class, such as age, race, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, or disability. Critics say that adding law enforcement to this list of protected classes dilutes the value of this type of legislation by basing it on a mutable or changing characteristic, such as a profession, rather than an unchangeable one like race or national origin.

Top 5 Reckless Driving Issues

The dangers of driving are many and you must pay close attention when you're on the road. Not only do you risk serious injury or even death when you're distracted, but there is also the possibility of being stopped by the cops and being charged with a traffic infraction or crime.

Aggressive driving and road rage are not crimes in and of themselves. But they do lead to reckless driving, which is an offense. Let's look at the top issues surrounding reckless driving.

Arresting Officer in Freddie Gray Case Found Not Guilty

Baltimore policeman Edward Nero, implicated in the death of Freddie Gray last year, was found not guilty of all criminal charges. Nero was tried before a judge and is the second officer of six charged to stand trial for Gray's death.

But Nero is the first to resolve his case, according to Slate. A trial last year for Officer William Porter ended in a hung jury and the case will be tried again. Perhaps informed by Porter's experience, Nero opted for a bench trial, meaning this case was argued before a judge only and not a jury. It was a good choice for him, considering he was found not guilty.

Your Significant Privacy Interest in Your Phone Doesn't End at Border

Your phone now contains more information than ever before, more even than your home, and the courts recognize this. You do have a significant privacy interest in your phone and you can challenge a search of your tech just as you would a search of your car.

Two years ago, the Supreme Court acknowledged the significant role of technology in our lives in Riley v. California. A recent case out of the Eastern District of Virginia, US v. Kolsuz, illustrates this, saying specifically that search of a smartphone at a border requires reasonable suspicion, according to legal analyst Orin Kerr. Let's consider what it means for you.

Now that the FBI has been caught bugging two California courthouses, many people are wondering about the limits of police surveillance. Recording conversations falls under the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits "unreasonable searches and seizures."

So what's considered unreasonable? It's been a long time since the Constitution was written, and society and technology have changed quite a bit since then. Here are some of the limits of police search and seizure today:

Last week, the East Bay Express broke news that federal agents placed an array of audio and video surveillances devices in and around the Rene C. Davidson Courthouse in Alameda County, California. The extent of the surveillance was only revealed after evidence gleaned from recordings was used against a criminal defendant.

While it seems clear that the FBI did not have a warrant for the surveillance, what's less clear is how many people were recorded, how many conversations were taped, and whether any of this was legal.

Open Container Laws to Know: Penalties for Public Drinking

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood, perfect for a beer in the park. So you and your friends spend the day drinking in the shade and everything is great until you get charged with open container. Are you in big trouble?

Probably not, unless you exacerbate the problem. Open container laws vary widely from state to state and place to place and the penalties for this offense also vary widely. The consequences of drinking in public can also depend on where in public you were drinking and the extent to which you were a nuisance. Let's consider open container laws and why they were created to get a sense of consequences.

Are Judges Becoming More Critical of Excessive Force?

Excessive force by police has gotten a lot of media attention in recent years and some legal analysts believe a changing national consciousness is starting to influence decisions on the bench. Judges are increasingly reluctant to let police escape liability with qualified immunity, according to Noah Feldman, a writer and professor of law at Harvard University.

The basis for this claim made in a Bloomberg editorial is extremely limited -- a single conservative judge's dissent on a motion to dismiss a civil suit against Texas officers who allegedly contributed to a man's death with excessive force. Still, let's consider. Is there a growing consciousness, inside and out of the criminal justice system, that police officers have a lot of power which is easily abused?

Eulalio Tordil, a law enforcement officer with the Federal Protective Service, is in custody following three deadly shootings in Maryland over the last two days. Tordil allegedly shot and killed his wife Thursday evening, then killed two more at two separate mall shootings that also left two injured.

The Prince George's County Police Department is "investigating a possible link" between the shootings -- the first of which was in a high school parking lot and the others at a mall and supermarket -- but it was not immediately clear that the killings are related.

The city of Cleveland has agreed to pay $6 million to the family of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old shot and killed by police officer Timothy Loehmann in 2014. Rice was in a park playing with a toy gun when he was shot.

It is the latest in a series of million-dollar settlements following deadly police shootings, and the latest chapter in Cleveland's own history of police violence and lawsuits.