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Social Media and Voting: Update on ‘Ballot Selfie’ Laws

Ah, the selfie. That staple of social media. Who needs a silly little "I Voted" sticker when you can share your voting status worldwide with a few taps on your smartphone? The ballot selfie has become the most popular way to prove you participated in the political process, but some states aren't too keen on the idea. Quite a few states have banned ballot selfies, and a few state courts have overturned bans. So where does the law stand now? Here's a look. In and Out Whether you can snap a selfie at your polling place can depend on where you live. Some states explicitly bar ballot selfies, some states allow them, and quite a few states have yet to clarify matters, legally. The AP published a comprehensive list of state ballot selfie laws, and here's a quick summary: Legal: Connecticut, D.C., Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming. Not Legal: Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Some of these bans are prohibitions on taking photographs of ballots specifically; others are laws against taking any pictures at polling places. And keep in mind that even in states where ballot selfies are legal, there may be limits on where you can snap your selfie and what can be included. Up in the Air There are still 13 states that have yet to decide the issue of ballot selfies definitively. Arizona, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Iowa, Maryland, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia either don't address ballot selfies explicitly, have proposals pending, or have laws on the books that state officials have said may not prohibit ballot selfies. So before you start snapping photos of you and your ballot and post them to social media, you may want to consult with a local civil rights attorney to confirm the ballot selfie laws in your jurisdiction. Related Resources: Find Civil Rights Lawyers Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) New Hampshire Strikes Down Ban on 'Ballot Selfies' (FindLaw's Legally Weird) Snapchat Stands up for Right to Snap Ballot Selfies (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Rules Around Polling Places (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
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Is Road Rage a Crime?

We've probably all been guilty of road rage at least once in our lives. However, when road rage escalates from stewing in your car to aggressive driving or vicious assaults, road rage can get you arrested. Just this week, a case of road rage was caught on camera in Yuma, Arizona. A motorcyclist, wearing a GoPro camera on his helmet, allegedly cut off another car. When both the car and motorcycle were stopped at a light, the driver got out of his vehicle, walked straight up to the motorcyclist and punched him in the face! The driver proceeds to shove a passenger on the motorcycle and try to punch the motorcyclist several more times before being taken down. The driver was taken to the hospital with an apparent broken ankle, and has been charged with endangerment, threatening, and assault. Could he also have been charged with road rage? Road Rage Laws In most cases of road rage, a driver is often charged with a slew of violations and other crimes, such as speeding, unsafe lane changing, endangerment, or assault, as happened in this case. However, some states also have laws or vehicles codes punishing road rage: Arizona -- According to Arizona's Department of Public Safety, road rage is defined as "an assault with a motor vehicle or other dangerous weapon by the operator or passenger of another motor vehicle or an assault precipitated by an incident that occurred on a roadway." California -- California's Vehicle Code section 13210 allows for a court-ordered suspension of your driver's license if you are convicted of assault with a deadly weapon caused by road rage. Massachusetts -- If you have a junior operator's license in Massachusetts and you speed up in competition with another driver, you could be convicted of drag racing and be ordered to complete a court program against road rage. If you ever find yourself getting angry while driving, take a few deep breaths and calm down. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, road rage and aggressive driving cause 66 percent of traffic fatalities. In a seven year period, 218 people were murdered and 12,610 injured because of road rage. If you are charged with road rage or any other crime in conjunction, consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney for help. Related Resources: Browse Criminal Defense Lawyers by Location (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) Video: Motorcyclist Attacked in Arizona Road Rage Incident (ABC 7) 'Road Rage Lady' in Viral Video Arrested, but for What? (FindLaw's Legally Weird) Road Rage Tips: How to Not Get Shot (FindLaw's Injured)
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Women Criminal Defense Attorneys: Lori Voepel Wins Appeal for Woman Who Spent 22 Years on Death Row on Egregious Prosecutorial Misconduct

Attorney Lori Voepel, from Phoenix, Arizona, won a stunning appeal last week for Debra Jean Milke, who spent 22 years on death row for the alleged murder of her 4 year old son. The Arizona Court of Appeals ordered the dismissal of murder charges against Milke and agreed with Voepel that to conduct a retrial would amount to double jeopardy. The Court was extremely critical of the prosecutors’ failure to turn over evidence during Milke’s trial about Detective Saldate who had a long history of misconduct and lying. The case was largely built on the detective’s testimony that Milke had confessed to him in spite of the fact that it was not preserved by recording or in writing. The Court called the prosecutors’ actions “a severe stain on the Arizona justice system” and stated that the failure to turn over the evidence “calls into question the integrity of the system and was highly prejudicial to Milke.” The Huffington Post detailed the appellate twists and turns starting from the federal habeas to 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that resulted in the conviction being reversed in March of 2013. Listen here to Voepel discussing the 9th Circuit’s ruling last year. The 9th Circuit cited numerous instances of now-retired Detective Saldate committing misconduct in previous cases, lying under oath, and violating suspects’ rights. The federal appeals court went as far as asking the Justice Department to investigate whether he had committed civil rights violations. Thereafter when the prosecutors were preparing for a retrial the detective refused to testify and asserted his Fifth Amendment right, which the trial judge accepted. When the State appealed, the court’s ruling was reversed after both State and Federal authorities said they would not prosecute him. Finally, the last appeal resulted in the Arizona Court of Appeals agreeing that a retrial would amount to double jeopardy. Some news reports have indicated that the County Attorney plans to appeal to the Arizona Supreme Court. In September of last year Milke posted bond and was released from prison after spending close to 25 years in prison to await her retrial and the appeals the followed. This case is yet another example of the insidious nature of Brady violations. Here the prosecutors had evidence that went directly to the credibility of the main witness against the defendant and rather than follow the law, they chose to break the law. Thankfully in this instance Lori Voepel was able to demonstrate that Brady evidence existed but wasn’t turned over. This kind of case is a prime example as to why we, as trial attorneys, need to remain vigilant about Brady and continue to shine a bright light on the damaging effects of Brady violations. Congrats to Lori Voepel and her tireless fight for justice for her client. Bravo!
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When Can Kids Legally Own, Shoot Guns?

Firearm enthusiasts who may also be parents or grandparents should be aware that the laws regulating the ownership, possession, and use of guns by kids are often different from the laws for adults. These rules are also facing increased scrutiny following a fatal accident at an Arizona gun range in which a nine-year-old girl shot an instructor in the head when she lost control of a fully automatic Uzi submachine gun, reports the Las Vegas Review-Journal. What are the rules for when kids can legally own or shoot a gun? Is it Legal for Kids to Have a Gun? Both federal and state gun laws typically distinguish between long guns, such as rifles and shotguns, and handguns. Under federal firearms law, licensed firearm dealers may not sell a handgun to anyone under age 21, or sell a long gun to anyone under age 18. Unlicensed individuals may not sell, deliver, or permanently transfer (such as giving a gun as a gift) a handgun to anyone they have reasonable cause to believe is under age 18, but there is no minimum age for selling, delivering, or transferring a shotgun or a rifle for individuals not licensed as a firearm dealer under federal law. Know someone who has been arrested or charged with a crime? Get in touch with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney in your area today. There is also no minimum age for possession of a long gun under federal law. However, those under 18 are prohibited from possessing handguns or handgun ammunition, except if doing so in the course of employment, in the course of ranching or farming related activities, for target practice, hunting, or during the course of instruction in the "safe and lawful use of a handgun." In addition to federal laws, individual states each have their own laws regulating the possession and use of firearms, which may affect the legality of a minor's ability to own or possess a firearm. Is it Legal for Children to Fire Guns at Gun Ranges? Many states choose not to further restrict the temporary transfer of firearms to minors for use in target practice or firearm safety training allowed by federal firearms law. These exceptions to the general rules for firearm possession by minors have led to something of a cottage industry in some states. One Texas gun range even opened up two rooms for hosting children's birthday parties. In Arizona, the state in which the nine-year-old girl inadvertently killed her shooting instructor with an Uzi, state law allows for the temporary transfer of firearms to minors by firearms safety instructors or by another adult accompanying a minor in hunting or target shooting activities -- so long as the child's parents give consent. And though the incident in Arizona was tragic, the Mohave County Sheriff's office told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that no citations or charges will be filed in the incident Related Resources: 9-year-old girl accidentally kills gun instructor with Uzi (San Jose Mercury News) Legal to Bring Your Gun to Work? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) 5 BB Gun Laws You Need to Know (FindLaw's Blotter) Does Ga.'s New Gun Law Expand 'Stand Your Ground'? (FindLaw's Blotter)
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Ariz. Gun Range Death: Who’s Liable?

Law enforcement authorities have stated that no one will be charged criminally in the fatal shooting of an Arizona gun range instructor killed when a nine-year-old girl lost control of the fully automatic Uzi submachine gun she was firing, reports ABC News. But accidents that cause death, even ones that don't involve criminal conduct, often result in wrongful death lawsuits or other civil litigation. Who, if anyone, might be liable for this tragic accident? Wrongful Death Actions Wrongful death actions are typically brought by family members of a deceased person when another person's intentional or negligent conduct caused their family member's death. Injured? Exercise your legal rights. Get in touch with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney in your area today. In this case, video footage filmed by the girl's parents shows that the girl did not intend to shoot the instructor, but rather lost control of the gun she was firing. But was the accident the result of negligence on the part of the girl or her parents? Was the Child Negligent? Negligence requires a person, who had a duty to act reasonably given the circumstances, failed to act reasonably and this failure caused another to be injured. It is possible to bring a lawsuit against a child for negligence; however, it may be more difficult than suing an adult. Children are generally not expected to act as a reasonable adult would act. In some jurisdictions, however, children can be held to an adult standard of reasonableness when they are engaged in what are known as "adult activities." In some states, parents may also be held vicariously liable for the negligence of their children, or be found liable for negligent supervision of their children. It may be difficult, however, even if held to the adult standard of reasonableness, to prove that the child, who was firing a fully automatic weapon for the first time acted negligently when she lost control of the gun. Negligence of Shooting Range? It may also be possible to bring suit against the shooting range itself for negligence. Although it appears that no laws were broken in allowing the girl to fire the weapon, many are questioning the safety of the range's policies allowing minor children to fire fully automatic weapons. The gun range's owner told The Associated Press that the range's policy of allowing children eight and older to fire guns under adult supervision is standard practice in the industry, adding that in 14 years of operation, the accident was the first injury or death that has occurred. Related Resources: A 9-Year-Old at a Shooting Range, a Spraying Uzi and Outrage (The New York Times) After a Tragic Shooting, Wrongful Death Suits Follow (FindLaw's Injured) Can A School Be Sued for a Shooting? (FindLaw's Injured) Burglary Suspect Sues Homeowner for Shooting Back (FindLaw's Legally Weird)
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ASU Back-to-School Alcohol Crackdown Nets 392 Arrests

Police in Tempe, Arizona arrested 392 people as part of an alcohol-crime-focused task force last weekend, which not coincidentally kicked off the first weekend of the fall semester for Arizona State University. The "Safe and Sober" campaign, according to the Tempe Police Department, is a collaborative effort between 18 law-enforcement agencies and is scheduled to last until September 6. The Phoenix New Times reports that of the hundreds arrested, approximately one in three were arrested for DUI. What can we learn from this ASU alcohol crackdown? Some 'Arresting' Statistics While the number of arrests may lead one to believe that this program is something new and unexpected, this is actually the second year of the "Safe and Sober" enforcement campaign. Last year's inaugural instance of the program netted 309 DUI arrests and 1367 arrests in total, spanning three weekends at the beginning of ASU's Fall 2013 semester. This is far more than the 392 total arrested thus far in this year's "Safe and Sober" campaign, but we remind readers that the 2014 run still has two weekends to go. The New Times reported that comparing this past weekend with that same weekend in 2013, there were actually 21 more arrests in 2014. It's unclear that this suggests that alcohol-related arrests are increasing, and more may become clear once the campaign is concluded. Arizona's Governor's Office of Highway Safety actually reported fewer DUIs in 2013 than in 2012, suggesting that drivers may be wising up. Know someone who has been arrested or charged with a drunken driving offense? Get in touch with a knowledgeable DUI attorney in your area today. Whatever the trend, the arrests last weekend included: 146 DUI arrests, 112 arrests for minors consuming alcohol, 35 arrests for minors possessing alcohol, and 99 arrests for "other offenses." Hopefully any increase in alcohol-related arrests also corresponds to increased safety for Arizona's drivers and minors. Back-to-College Booze Tips Since ASU's students seem largely clueless to the legal ramification of underage drinking and DUI, despite a combined 18 law-enforcement agencies watching them like hawks, here are some easy-to-remember back-to-college alcohol tips: Even if your campus has a lax alcohol policy, know that it is illegal for minors to consume alcohol (unless it's with their parents); States like Arizona have extreme and aggravated DUI penalties for drunken driving offenses with minors in the vehicle; and Most college campuses have free shuttles or "safe ride" services, so use them. Try to start this semester without having to call a DUI lawyer. Related Resources: Tempe apartment residents throw beer bottles at police (The Arizona Republic) MIP: 3 Things to do After a Minor in Possession (FindLaw's Blotter (FindLaw's Blotter) 5 Ways Hazing Can Get You Arrested (FindLaw's Blotter) 5 Things a DUI Lawyer Can Do (That You Probably Can't) (FindLaw's Blotter)
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What Is a Retrial? When Can You Get One?

What is a retrial, and who is entitled to one? Retrials are in the news this week. Convicted Arizona murderer Jodi Arias will be retried, but only to determine her punishment for killing her boyfriend in 2008; jury selection is set to begin September 8, The Associated Press reports. And in another high-profile case, Michael Dunn, the Florida man who allegedly shot and killed unarmed teenager Jordan Davis over loud music, will be retried for murder beginning May 5, the AP reports. So how do retrials work in our criminal justice system? What Is a Retrial? A retrial is quite literally a second (or third) trial on an issue that has already been tried. In Jodi Arias' case, jurors were unable to reach a verdict on how she should be punished, so an entirely new jury will need to hear the facts of the case in order to make the same determination. In most cases, a retrial is ordered because a judge has declared a mistrial, or a reason why the current trial must be considered invalid. A mistrial can occur because of something as innocent as a hung jury or something more malicious like juror misconduct. Sometimes a case will be appealed and then overturned by an appellate court, which will then order a retrial in order to have the facts heard in accordance with its ruling. In every other way, a retrial is just like a normal trial. And assuming there is no reason to challenge the trial court's findings, the conclusion of a retrial will be the final word on the case. Who Gets a Retrial? In order for there to be a retrial, there must be a legitimate reason for the original trial to be declared invalid. Like with Jodi Arias, a hung jury is a very common reason to declare a mistrial, but the retrial will only need to cover issues of fact where the jury was not unanimous. Since the Arias jury already unanimously voted to convict her of murder, the retrial will only cover the issue of punishment -- not guilt or innocence. That's different from the case of Michael Dunn, who will be retried on the charge of first degree murder. Dunn has already been convicted of attempted murder and weapons charges, but a new jury will hear evidence that Dunn should be convicted of murder for Jordan Davis' killing. In many cases, like Dunn's, the decision to seek a retrial is up to the prosecution, who can decide whether or not to drop the case. To learn more about criminal procedure and the justice system, check out FindLaw's comprehensive section on Criminal Law. Related Resources: Arizona jury to consider again death penalty for Jodi Arias in September (Reuters) When Can You Get a New Trial? (FindLaw's Blotter) Lies in Jury Selection May Lead to New Trial (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Kennedy Cousin Michael Skakel to Get New Trial (FindLaw's Blotter)
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Daylight Saving: Time for It to End?

Is it time for Daylight Saving Time to end? That's the feeling of many of DST's opponents who are pushing for state laws that seek to sunset the decades-long practice. Here are some considerations for those wondering about the end of Daylight Saving Time: Permanent DST? Or Ignore It? Although the majority of states currently observe DST, some of them are now pushing back. In Florida, two state legislators are proposing that the Sunshine State spring forward in March -- but never fall back. Representatives Mark Danish and Darren Soto want to permanently set Florida on Eastern Daylight Saving Time in order to save energy and boost the economy, reports Tampa Bay's WTSP-TV. This is the opposite position toward daylight saving of another sun-rich state, Arizona, which has chosen for decades to ignore DST so that residents can get some respite from the blazing desert sun. Missouri legislators are seeking to push the state permanently into DST as well -- as long as 19 other states will do the same. The Kansas City Star reports that HB340, approved by the Missouri House of Representatives in April 2013, will move Missouri permanently to Central Daylight Saving Time (CDT), as long as 20 states total agree to move their clocks forward. Many States, Territories Ignore DST Already As mentioned above, DST isn't a universal truth. Arizona, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands do not observe DST -- likely because at latitudes near the equator, daylight amounts don't vary as much with the seasons. States which straddle time zones have the option under federal law to ignore DST, although it causes a very tricky time situation in places like Indiana. In places where separate cities within the same state observe time as a local phenomenon, commercial operations based on hourly deadlines would become very confusing. Any statewide changes to Daylight Saving Time not authorized by the Uniform Time Act may need to receive federal authorization from Congress, but no state has yet challenged this authority. Related Resources: END DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME (Petition2Congress) Daylight Saving Time: A Legal Timeline (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) How Did Presidents Day Become a Holiday? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Columbus Day History: How It Became a Holiday (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
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Supreme Court Calendar: 5 Cases to Watch in March

The U.S. Supreme Court's calendar for March includes seven days of oral argument, but there are a few calendared cases that deserve a bit more of your attention. Here are five appeals that are being closely watched: Monday, March 3, 2014: Hall v. Florida The High Court is hearing arguments today in Hall v. Florida, which challenges Florida's standards for making sure the state doesn't execute "mentally retarded" persons. In Florida, there is a bright-line rule which allows the state to execute inmates with IQ scores above 70. Hall -- a death-row inmate whom courts initially deemed "retarded" but later found not to be retarded, according to The Atlantic -- is claiming that this rule constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, citing the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Atkins v. Virginia. Tuesday, March 4: Plumhoff v. Rickard In Plumhoff v. Rickard, the U.S. Supreme Court will consider how much force is "reasonable" for officers to use in a civil suit for excessive force. In the case, a suspect and his passenger were killed in a crash after a high-speed police chase in which officers fired 13 shots at their fleeing car. The High Court will also determine whether officers in this case are entitled to qualified immunity. Tuesday, March 25: Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby This case is extremely important for those who are concerned with religious objections to Obamacare's contraception mandate -- as well expanding the civil rights of corporations. Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby poses an interesting question to the High Court: Does a corporation have rights to religious freedom? Hobby Lobby is a privately held company. Tuesday, March 25: Conestoga v. Sebelius Conestoga v. Sebelius will be heard the same morning as Hobby Lobby because both cases deal with corporations asserting First Amendment religious freedom as a reason for opposing Obamacare's contraception mandate. The Conestoga case involves a family business and its closely held for-profit corporation. Wednesday, March 26: Wood v. Moss When the Court hears Wood v. Moss in late March, it will consider whether the Secret Service, during the George W. Bush administration, was within its rights to move a group of anti-Bush protesters while leaving a pro-Bush group alone. At the heart of this debate will be whether the anti-Bush demonstrators had their First Amendment free speech rights violated. Keep your eyes on the U.S. Supreme Court and your calendars this March -- especially on these five cases. Related Resources: Argument Calendars - Supreme Court of the United States (U.S. Supreme Court) Supreme Ct.: Nuns Can Skip Obamacare Form, Pending Mandate Appeal (FindLaw's Decided) Supreme Court Calendar: 3 Cases to Watch in Feb. (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) U.S. Supreme Court's 2013 Term: 5 Crucial Cases to Watch (FindLaw's Decided)
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Ariz.’s SB 1062 Vetoed; States Debate Similar Bills

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed SB 1062 on Wednesday, explaining that the bill -- which would have effectively allowed business owners to refuse service to gays on the basis of religious freedom -- "does not address a specific and present concern related to religious liberty in Arizona." While insisting that she had worked hard to represent the voters of Arizona, Gov. Brewer expressed concern that the controversial bill -- which had been cast as "anti-gay" -- was simply too broad, reports the Los Angeles Times. What other reasons did Gov. Brewer offer for vetoing SB 1062? And what does her veto mean for states considering similar "religious freedom" bills? Not a Real Problem in Arizona According to the Times, proponents of SB 1062 feel the bill has been misinterpreted. But the deeper problem seems to lie with the "problem" the bill intended to address. Taken at its best, the bill sought to protect Arizona business owners who wished to refuse service to certain customers. If that refusal was based on the business owners' religious beliefs, the bill would have insulated their businesses from discrimination lawsuits. Critics saw this as a reactionary measure to ensure that Arizonans would not need to do business with same-sex couples, who have been gaining legal recognition in nearby California, Utah, and New Mexico. But the ironic part about SB 1062 is that private businesses in Arizona can already legally discriminate against gay couples, who have no legal recourse under Arizona or federal law. In fact, Gov. Brewer said she hadn't heard of a single example of a business owner in Arizona who had his or her religious liberty violated, the Times reports. Since SB 1062 was very broadly worded, opponents worried that it could have created any number of troublesome scenarios -- for example, religious business owners refusing to serve single mothers. Gov. Brewer's veto seemed to echo these concerns, but what does this reasoning mean for similar bills in other states? Other States' Bills Pending Politico reports that Georgia, Kansas, and Missouri have legislation in the works which may allow businesses to deny service to same-sex couples, and six more state legislatures are considering similar bills. One of those states is Oklahoma, where a restaurant owner recently made waves for explicitly refusing to serve gays and other minorities. Perhaps other states will learn from the failure of SB 1062 by reworking their own bills' language to avoid alienating support. As The Associated Press recounts, huge corporate bodies like Apple and American Airlines had urged Brewer to veto SB 1062, and no one can doubt their influence -- or capital. If bills like SB 1062 are to pass, they'll need to overcome these hurdles. Related Resources: What Jan Brewer's veto of SB 1062 tells us (The Washington Post) Ariz.'s SB 1062: Gov. Brewer Has 3 Options (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Arizona Immigration Bill Signed by Governor Brewer (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Arizona Passes Bill Restricting Ethnic Studies (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
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