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Warrantless Cell Phone Searches at U.S. Border OK in Florida Case

People are guaranteed certain rights in the criminal justice system. One of those rights is to be free of random searches. The Fourth Amendment requires police to have probable cause in order to search an individual, which usually must be evidenced through a warrant. There are certain circumstances, however, where a search warrant is not necessary before conducting a search. According to the 11th Circuit, the warrantless search of a Florida man's cell phone didn't violate the Fourth Amendment.

Oregon Bans Domestic Violence Convicts From Owning Guns

Guns will always be a hot issue, especially since it involves trying to balance citizens' Second Amendment rights and prevent gun violence. One step legislators are taking to stop gun violence is limiting the gun ownership of domestic violence convicts.

Oregon is the latest state to pass a law banning domestic violence convicts from owning guns. More specifically, the governor of Oregon, Kate Brown, signed a law that closes a loophole that permits people to buy and keep guns after a domestic violence or stalking conviction.

Texas Cash Bail System Ruled Unconstitutional

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has concluded that Houston's bail system is unconstitutional. The decision affirms a district court's findings in a class action lawsuit alleging that Harris County's bail bond practices violated the Due Process and Equal Protection rights of indigent defendants

Prison Sentence Upheld for Man Who Pointed Laser at KC Police Helicopter

It's a crime, and it deserves time. A federal appeals court has affirmed a judge's three year prison sentence for Jordan Clarence Rogers, who repeatedly pointed a laser at a Kansas City police helicopter. Doing so temporarily blinded the pilot. Now it's sent Rogers to federal prison.

From the state that brought you decriminalized prostitution by minors, came a lawsuit to legalize prostitution for everyone. The Erotic Service Provider Legal, Education & Research Project (ESP) had sued the district attorneys of the City and County of San Francisco, Marin County, Alameda County, and Sonoma County, all the way up to the Attorney General of California, in hopes of invalidating California's ban on prostitution.

The lawsuit made several constitutional claims, including that the ban violates the Fourteenth Amendment's substantive due process right to sexual privacy, and the freedom of association protected under the First or Fourteenth Amendments. Unfortunately for the plaintiffs, prostitutes, and Johns, those claims were dismissed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the dream of making the world's oldest profession legal appear to have been dashed.

The long, strange, and often silly legal saga of Cliven Bundy and his anti-federal government militiamen took another odd turn this week, one that indicates this is not the last we'll hear about the men in court. A federal judge declared a mistrial in the case against Bundy, his two sons Ryan and Ammon, and a fourth man, Ryan Payne, relating to an armed standoff with federal agents in Nevada in 2014.

A mistrial can be declared for any number of reasons, so why did the judge think it was warranted in this case?

The long, tragic legal saga of Brendan Dassey continued last week, this time taking a turn for the worse. After a federal magistrate judge and a three-member panel of the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals previously ruled Dassey's 2006 confession to officers was coerced, a full panel of the Seventh Circuit overturned those rulings, reinstating his murder and rape conviction.

Despite conceding that Dassey's "youth, his limited intellectual ability, some suggestions by the interrogators ... and inconsistencies in Dassey's confession," the appeals court ruled that the trial court was not unreasonable in ruling the confession was voluntary.

There are times when a person's immigration status will be relevant in a court of law. Say, if a person is accused of falsifying documents to hide that status. It could also come up if a witness is receiving some immigration benefit in exchange for or in order to facilitate their testimony. In an on-the-job personal injury case? Immigration status is not so relevant.

So said the Washington Supreme Court back in 2010, when it granted an injured worker a new trial on the grounds the jury in his first may have been prejudiced by knowledge that the man had overstayed his visa. Last week, the court officially adopted that rule of evidence, making immigration status "generally inadmissible" in both civil and criminal court.

Chicago's indecent exposure ordinance is quite specific, including a ban on the display of "any portion of the breast at or below the upper edge of the areola thereof of any female person" in public. Sonoku Tagami is not a fan of the law, and decided to celebrated "GoTopless Day 2014" by walking the streets of Chicago naked from the waist up, wearing only body paint on her breasts.

Tagami was ticketed for public indecency and challenged the charge all the way to the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, which last week sided with the city and upheld the topless ban as constitutional. But the real fireworks came in the back-and-forth between Judge Diane Sykes's majority and Judge Illana Rovner's dissent. Here's a look:

Last November, Californians passed on the opportunity to abolish the death penalty in Golden State, and instead voted in favor a measure meant to expedite executions. Proposition 66, referred to as a measure to "mend not end" capital punishment in the state, ostensibly set a five-year deadline on court appeals from death row inmates.

One such inmate challenged the law, saying in part, that it violates the separation of powers doctrine by interfering with the courts' discretion and ability to hear and resolve capital appeals and habeas corpus petitions. But the California Supreme Court today upheld the new provisions, relying on the interpretation that the deadline is "directive rather than mandatory."