Punishments for Crimes through the ages – from the bizarre to outrageous, from the sublime to the ridiculous. We don’t know how lucky we are!
Many of us are apt to complain about sentences handed out by our Courts for crimes these days – too harsh, too lenient. But a quick look at some punishments for crimes through the ages, including in some countries today, we should really consider how much we really have to complain about.
Not only have punishments been truly shocking (and in some instances still are), but even some of the crimes are truly unbelievable.
Many Sydney criminal lawyers would have had their work cut out for them if some of these historical crimes were still on the statute books! Lucky for us that our complaints about the justice systems these days are limited to whether an offender should be given a jail sentence or community service, or whether a 2 year sentence is sufficient or whether 5 would have been better, and so on.
Thank goodness we don’t have to contend with crimes for which the penalty is being tortured to death by some truly unimaginable means. Criminal lawyers in Australia, as in Europe, the United States, Canada, New Zealand and others, these days don’t have to plead for the type of mercy that offenders of times gone by had to. And of course, some of these barbaric practices do still exist today in other parts of the globe, as you can see below.
Some Crimes and Some Punishments You Won’t Believe
Nothing can quite replace the crime drama on our TV screens, but we did just discover a silver lining that may make you feel better. Paget Brewster, who plays Emily Prentiss, signed on to appear on another CBS series.
Cheers to Prentiss’s new gig!
Its subject matter isn’t anywhere close to Criminal Minds. In fact, Paget’s next role is on the comedy Mom, which also stars Anna Faris and Allison Janney. According to TVLine, Paget will appear on at least two episodes, and has even already filmed one.
“I guested on an episode of [Mom] last night,” she wrote in a Tweet in August. “And everyone was so welcoming, hilarious, and kind.”
Paget’s character, though, doesn’t quite sound like she’s any of those things. She will reportedly play Veronica Stone, the boss to Anna’s Christy. She’s apparently very “demanding” and will likely butt heads with Christy. The episode is likely to air on October 10, so clear your calendars now.
Nothing can fully replace the Criminal Minds-shaped hole in our hearts, but it’s at least a little comforting to know we can cope the same way we did when Shemar Moore left—by watching the actors’ other shows on repeat.
Gear Up for the ‘Criminal Minds’ Finale
Megan Stein Megan Stein is the senior editor for CountryLiving.com, covering entertainment news ranging from outrageous moments on “The Voice,” to the latest happenings with HGTV stars.
The US Supreme Court was formed in 1789. It’s gone from five seats to 10, and is now fixed at nine.
It makes fewer than 100 decisions every year, but its choices have had a huge impact on the country.
Some decisions have empowered women, helped protect the environment, or guaranteed a person’s right to expression. Others have strengthened racist laws, enabled forced sterilization, and allowed unequal schooling.
Here is a guide to 45 of the Supreme Court’s most impactful decisions.
The decision: The justices ruled unanimously that Madison’s refusal was illegal, and that the law Marbury had sued under was also unconstitutional. More importantly, this ruling held that the Supreme Court had the power of “judicial review” to decide whether a law or executive action is constitutional. This essentially gave the high court the legal authority for every decision it would make in the future.
Gibbons v. Ogden (1824)
The case: In 1808, New York state gave Aaron Ogden a 20-year license to operate his steamboats on waters within the state. Thomas Gibson, another steam boat operator and Ogden’s former business partner, was also working in the area, with a license from the federal government. Ogden claimed Gibbons was undercutting his business by unfairly competing. He wanted Gibbons to stop operating, and argued his license was enforceable, even though it was on interstate waters. Gibbons argued that the US Constitution gave Congress power over interstate commerce.
The decision: The Supreme Court unanimously held states cannot interfere with Congress’s ability to regulate commerce. State laws had to yield to constitutional acts by Congress, so the court ruled in Gibbon’s favor. It was an important early decision finding that federal governments had the ability to determine interstate commerce.
Worcester v. Georgia (1832)
The case: In 1828, Georgia passed laws prohibiting anyone except Native Americans from living on Native American land. Samuel Worcester, a missionary, was living on Native American land and refused to apply for a license. He was arrested and appealed, arguing his removal was a violation of his constitutional rights, as Georgia had no jurisdiction on Native American land.
The decision: The Supreme Court held, 5-1, that the Cherokee Nation was a sovereign “distinct community.” It struck down the Georgia law prohibiting white people living on Native American land. The case was important because it set out the relationship between tribes, states, and the federal government. It meant that interaction with Native American states became a federal process, and provided some sovereignty when interacting with the US government.
But it wasn’t always enforced. Then-President Andrew Jackson said, “John Marshall has issued his decision. Let him enforce it.”
Charles River Bridge v. Warren Bridge (1837)
The case: In 1785, Massachusetts gave the Charles River Bridge Company a charter to build a bridge between Boston and Cambridge. In exchange for covering the costs of building and maintaining it, the company could collect tolls until the charter ended.
But in 1828, a second company was authorized to build a competing bridge that would be free to the public, Charles River Bridge sought an injunction to prevent the second bridge from being built.
The decision: The Supreme Court held 5-2 that the authority given to Charles River never granted them a monopoly, and that general welfare would be enhanced with a second bridge. The court said the responsibility of government was to promote the happiness and prosperity of the community.
The decision: The Supreme Court held 7-2 that since Scott’s ancestors were imported into the US and sold as slaves, he could not be an American citizen. Since he wasn’t a citizen, he had no jurisdiction to sue, which also meant that black people living free in the north were barred from federal courts. The court also held that under the Fifth Amendment, slaves were property, and any law that deprived a slave-owner of their property was unconstitutional.
The case: In 1871, Illinois passed legislation that set the maximum rate private companies could charge for storing and transporting agricultural goods. Munn, a grain warehouse, charged too much and was found guilty of violating the law. It appealed, arguing the regulation was an unconstitutional removal of property.
The decision: The Supreme Court held 7-2 that the law was constitutional, and that the state can regulate private industries when it affects the public. Since storage facilities were devoted to the public, they could be regulated. This case allowed states to regulate businesses within their borders. It was important because it showed how private enterprises could be publicly regulated.
Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)
The case: Homer Plessy, who was black under Louisiana law of the time, boarded a train and sat in a car that was reserved for white passengers. When he refused to move, he was arrested. Plessy argued that the Separate Car Act, which required all railroads to provide equal but separate accommodation, was violating his rights under the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause.
The decision: The Supreme Court held 7-1 that “separate but equal” accommodations for whites and blacks did not violate the 14th Amendment.
Justice John Marshall Harlan, known as the “great dissenter,” wrote that the Constitution was color-blind, and the US had no class system. “There is in this country no superior, dominant, ruling class of citizens; there is no caste here. Our Constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens,” he wrote. Despite his dissent, the decision solidified the “separate but equal” doctrine for the next six decades.
Lochner v. New York (1905)
The case: In 1897, New York passed a labor law limiting the working week for bakers to 60 hours. Joseph Lochner, a Bavarian baker, was fined twice, because his employees worked more than 60 hours. Lochner appealed, arguing the law was unconstitutional.
The decision: The Supreme Court held 5-4 that the New York law was unconstitutional. The court said the law interfered with the contract between an employer and and his employees.
The case: In New York, five Russian anti-war activists were arrested under the 1917 Espionage Act for printing and distributing 5,000 leaflets that criticized the US’s role in World War I. They also advocated for a general strike, and had put out a call to arms if the US intervened in Russia. They were sentenced to prison for up to 20 years. They appealed.
The decision: The Supreme Court held 7-2 that the Espionage Act was valid, and that it was a crime to willfully publish “disloyal” language about US politics, arguing that such speech was not protected by the First Amendment.
One of the most important things to come out of this case is Justice Holmes’ dissenting opinion. He argued that the government should only regulate people’s expression when it was required to save the country.
Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. Mellon (1923)
The case: The 1921 Maternity Act gave states money for programs aimed to help mothers and their infants. A woman named Frothingham thought the act would lead to an increase in her taxes, so she tried to sue the federal government. The issue was whether a taxpayer had standing to sue, when the only injury was going to be an increase in taxes.
The decision: The Supreme Court unanimously held she did not have standing because the injury was too small and indeterminable. It led to the legal concept of a “particularized” injury, which needs to be traced to a legal violation. Without this decision, it would be a lot easier to take a suit to court.
Buck v. Bell (1927)
The case: A young woman named Carrie Buck was diagnosed with “feeble mindedness,” and committed to a state institution after she was raped by her foster parent’s nephew, and had his child. Her mother had also been diagnosed as feeble minded. Under the 1924 Virginia Eugenical Sterilization Act, she was to be sterilized against her will, since she was seen as unfit to procreate. Buck’s appointed guardian sued, hoping to have the Supreme Court find sterilization constitutional.
The decision: The Supreme Court held 8-1 that there was nothing in the Eighth or 14th Amendments that said Carrie Buck could not be sterilized.
In his opinion, Justice Oliver Holmes wrote, “It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from breeding their kind. The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting Fallopian tubes … Three generations of imbeciles are enough.”
The case: The 1925 Public Nuisance Bill, also known as the “Minnesota gag law,” allowed judges to close down newspapers that were deemed obscene or slanderous. In 1927, the Saturday Press, a newspaper based in Minneapolis, began to publish articles attacking several public officials. One of them accused a politician named Floyd B. Olson of being a pawn to a conspiracy. Olson filed a complaint. A judge, using the 1925 law, issued a temporary restraining order against the newspaper. The newspaper appealed under the First Amendment’s right to a free press.
The decision: The Supreme Court held 5-4 that the Public Nuisance law was unconstitutional. Chief Justice Hughes wrote, “This statute … raises questions of grave importance transcending the local interests involved in the particular action. It is no longer open to doubt that the liberty of the press and of speech is within the liberty safeguarded by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment from invasion of state action.”
The case: The Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938, enacted to stabilize agricultural prices after the Great Depression, restricted how much wheat could be grown, to avoid another recession. The Department of Agriculture fined Roscoe Filburn, a wheat farmer in Ohio, for growing too much. He sued, arguing Congress didn’t have the authority, since he’d never planned to sell all of the wheat. The issue was whether Congress had the authority to regulate local wheat production.
The decision: The Supreme Court unanimously held that Congress had the power to regulate activities in the industry, and within states, when the activities had substantial effects on interstate commerce. So, even though Filburn’s wheat wasn’t all going to make it into the market, growing it still altered supply and demand in a national market.
This case led to the federal government having more power to regulate the economy, and also enabled federal regulation of things like workplace safety and civil rights. Not everyone has been in favor of this case. Notably, the late Justice Antonia Scalia used to laugh at it.
Brown v. Board of Education (1954)
The case: In the 1950s, Linda Brown had to take a dangerous route to school, because the only school that was closer was for white students. Her father, Oliver Brown, believed this was a breach of the 14th Amendment, which says, “no state can deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” Brown, along with a dozen other parents, challenged the segregation policy on behalf of their 20 children.
The decision: The Supreme Court unanimously held that separate educational facilities were inherently unequal. A second decision called for lower courts and school boards to proceed with desegregation. This decision knocked down the doctrine of “separate but equal” from Plessy v. Ferguson, which had allowed mixed race schools, transportation, and facilities to exist as long as they were “equal.”
The Atlantic described Chief Justice Earl Warren’s “ringing opinion” as “the belated mid course correction that began America’s transformation into a truly multiracial world nation.”
Mapp v. Ohio (1961)
The case: When Ohio police thought a suspected bomber was hiding out in Dollree Mapp’s house, they forced their way in without a warrant. When Mapp asked where the warrant was, they held up a piece of paper. In their search of her house, they found pornographic materials. They arrested Mapp and later convicted her for being in possession of obscene materials. She appealed.
The decision: The Supreme Court held 6-3 that any violation of the Fourth Amendment’s right against unlawful searches and seizures made evidence inadmissible in court. Justice Clark wrote in his majority opinion that “the exclusionary rule,” which prohibits the use of illegally obtained evidence in criminal trials, was essential.
The case: In New York, schools adopted a daily prayer after it was required by state law. Some parents argued it was a violation of individuals’ rights, but the school board said it wasn’t, since students could opt out. Five families led by parent Steven Engel disagreed, and sued on the basis that it violated the religion clause of the First Amendment.
The decision: The Supreme Court held 6-1 that reading an official prayer at school violated the constitution, because it was an “establishment of religion.” Justice Hugo Black wrote for the majority: “It is a matter of history that this very practice of establishing governmentally composed prayers for religious services was one of the reasons which caused many of our early colonists to leave England and seek religious freedom in America.”
The case: Clarence Earl Gideon was charged with breaking and entering a pool hall. He requested a lawyer to defend him, but Florida’s state court rejected him. After defending himself poorly Gideon went to prison. Giddeon appealed, and the issue was whether the right to counsel extended to felony defendants in state courts.
The decision: The Supreme Court held unanimously that state courts were required to appoint attorneys for those who could not afford their own counsel.
The case: This case stemmed from the apportionment scheme in Alabama. Under the 14th Amendment, each voter’s intentions are meant to have equal weight, but in Alabama, legislative districts were no longer accurately representing the amount of people who lived in them, especially in the cities, where populations had grown rapidly. The issue was whether this breached the “equal protection clause” in the 14th Amendment.
The decision: The Supreme Court held 8-1 that Alabama’s apportionment scheme had breached the 14th Amendment. The justices ruled that the right to vote is a fundamental right, and equal participation is crucial. Chief Justice Warren wrote for the majority: “legislators represent people, not trees or acres.”
The case: The Heart of Atlanta Motel in Georgia refused to provide accommodation for black people, but the Civil Rights Act of 1964 banned the practice. Two hours after the act was passed, the motel asked the court to stop the enforcement of a clause in Title II, which forbid racist discrimination by public accommodation providers. The motel argued it exceeded Congress’s power.
The decision: The Supreme Court held unanimously that the act was not exceeding Congress’s power. It reasoned that discrimination by businesses had a big impact on black people traveling, even when it was a small business, since negative effects could be far-reaching when added up. It was especially the case here, since 75% of the guests staying at the motel came from out of state.
The case: This case was about an advertisement titled “Heed Their Rising Voices” that was published in The New York Times in 1960. The ad was looking for donations to defend Martin Luther King Jr. and criticized the Montgomery police. The ad had factual errors, and L.B. Sullivan, a Montgomery city commissioner, sued The Times for defamation, though he wasn’t mentioned. In Alabama, Sullivan won and The Times was ordered to pay $500,000. The paper appealed.
The decision: The Supreme Court held unanimously that while regular defamation requires that a defendant knows a statement is false or reckless, when it’s a public figure, the defendant must act with “actual malice” — meaning they must know it was false or have a “reckless disregard” for the truth.
The case: In 1963, police obtained a written confession from Ernesto Miranda that said he had kidnapped and raped a woman. However, they had not advised Miranda of his right to have an attorney present during the interrogation. Miranda appealed on the basis that his confession had been gained unconstitutionally.
The decision: The Supreme Court held 5-4 that law enforcement must advise suspects of their right to remain silent, their right to an attorney, and that anything they say can and will be used against them in a court of law. Evidence could not be used in a trial unless the warnings had been given and knowingly waived.
Police work, and the well-known “you have the right to remain silent” would not be so firmly entrenched into society (or TV shows and movies) without this decision. People know their rights, and police know they have to read them to suspects.
Loving v. Virginia (1967)
The case: Mildred Jeter, a black woman, and Richard Loving, a white man, were from Virginia, where inter-racial marriage was illegal. In 1958, they got married in D.C. and then returned home. On their return, they were charged with breaking the law and sentenced to one year in prison. A judge suspended their sentence as long as they didn’t return to the state together for 25 years. Loving wrote to then-Attorney General Robert Kennedy and asked for his help, and he referred them to the ACLU, which helped them sue.
The decision: In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court held that the law was unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment. Chief Justice Warren wrote, “Under our constitution the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual, and cannot be infringed by the state.”
In a watershed moment for civil rights, the case found that people of any race, anywhere in the US, can get married, striking down laws banning inter-racial marriage in 16 states. The case was later cited in same-sex marriage cases.
Terry v. Ohio (1968)
The case: In 1963, three men were suspiciously walking back and forth in a block in Cleveland, Ohio, and a detective thought they were preparing to rob a store. He approached them, identified himself, then frisked them and found two concealed guns. One of the men was convicted for having the gun. The man appealed. The issue was whether police frisking violated the Fourth Amendment.
The decision: The Supreme Court held 8-1 that the search was reasonable since the men were acting suspiciously, warranting inquiry. If circumstances justify a belief that an individual is armed and dangerous, the justices ruled, the officer may pat down the outside of an individual’s clothing.
Justice William O. Douglas, the lone dissenter, did not think the standard for search and seizures should have been lowered from “probable cause” to “reasonable suspicion.” He wrote: “Yet if the individual is no longer to be sovereign, if the police can pick him up whenever they do not like the cut of his jib, if they can ‘seize’ and ‘search’ him in their discretion, we enter a new regime. The decision to enter it should be made only after a full debate by the people of this country.”
This case opened up the police’s ability to investigate activity they deem suspicious.
Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969)
The case: Clarence Brandenburg was arrested after making racist remarks and claiming the government was suppressing the “Caucasian race” to a gathering of Ku Klux Klan members in a field in Ohio. He also mentioned action might need to be taken, and was filmed by media he had invited to the gathering. The state law criminalized advocating violence as a means of accomplishing political reform, and he was sentenced to up to 10 years prison. The issue was whether speech advocating for violence was protected by the First Amendment.
The decision: The Supreme Court held per curiam, which means in the name of the court rather than the judges, that his freedom of speech had been violated. It found that speech may only be outlawed when it is directly inciting “imminent lawless action.” It also found that abstract discussions are not the same as actual preparation to engage in violence. This case broadened protections for political dissent.
Phillips v. Martin Marietta Corp. (1971)
The case: Ida Phillips applied for a job at the Martin Marietta Corporation, a missile plant in Orlando. She had seven children, and the business had a hiring policy excluding mothers with pre-school children, believing them to be unreliable. Phillips alleged she’d been denied employment because of her sex. The issue was whether this was discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The case was complicated, because the company hired women for the job, just not women with young children.
The decision: The Supreme Court unanimously held that it was discriminatory, since it was based on the sex of the applicant, even if it was about motherhood.
However, it did send the case back to lower courts to give the corporation a chance to present evidence about the impeded ability of mothers with young children. And the judges were uneasy about the idea that both sexes were equally equipped to do all jobs. Justice Hugo Black asked Phillips’ lawyer, “Does the law require that the employer give the woman a job of digging ditches and things of that kind?”
All nine justices at the time were men.
Wisconsin v. Yoder (1972)
The case: In Wisconsin, children were required by law to attend school until they were 16. But three Amish families refused to send their children to school after eighth grade, when most children are 14, resulting in $5 fines from the state. (Amish families think the content of secondary and higher education conflicts with their life of austerity.) They argued the compulsory attendance violated their rights under the First Amendment, specifically the Free Exercise Clause.
The decision: The Supreme Court held unanimously that the Amish families’ right to religious freedom was not overridden by the state’s interest in education. It held that sending the children to high school would threaten the Amish way of life. Freedom of religion was seen as more important than the state’s interest in education, and this case created an exception for Amish people, and others in similar situations.
The justices agreed overall on the ruling, but Justice William O. Douglas filed a partial dissent arguing that the children’s viewpoint wasn’t being considered, worried that they may miss out on an education if they’re not asked whether they want to go to high school.
Roe v. Wade (1973)
The case: This case stemmed from a Texas law that said abortion was illegal unless, by doctor’s orders, it was to save a woman’s life. An anonymous plaintiff called Jane Roe (who was later identified as Norma McCorvey) filed against the Dallas County district attorney, arguing the law was unconstitutional.
The decision: The Supreme Court held 7-2 that overly restrictive legislation around abortion was unconstitutional. Based on a right to privacy in the 14th Amendment, the state was not allowed to regulate a woman’s decision.
San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez (1973)
The case: In the late 1960s, schools in Texas could use local property taxes to boost revenue. So schools that were based in poorer areas had less revenue, because the property taxes were lower. A class-action suit was filed on behalf of children living in poorer areas. The issue here was whether the system violated the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause.
The decision: The Supreme Court held 5-4 that there is no constitutional right to an equal education. The opinion said it should not be unconstitutional, because “burdens or benefits” fall unevenly, depending on the wealth of the areas in which citizens live.
In Time Magazine’s list of the worst Supreme Court cases since 1960, the editors concluded this case enforced the idea that discrimination against the poor did not violate the Constitution, and education wasn’t a fundamental right.
United States v. Nixon (1974)
The case: This case was triggered by the Watergate scandal, when a special prosecutor asked for tapes that President Richard Nixon had recorded in the White House. He refused, saying he had “executive privilege” that allowed him to withhold sensitive information in order to maintain confidential communications and to maintain national security. Nixon released edited versions, but not the complete tapes, leading to Nixon and the prosecutor both filing petitions to be heard in the Supreme Court.
The decision: The Supreme Court held unanimously that while there was limited executive privilege for military or diplomacy reasons, it wasn’t enough in this case. Nixon had to hand over the tapes. The case led to Nixon’s resignation, and also ensures that the president does not have unlimited privilege to withhold information from other branches of government. “Not even the president is above the law,” Harvard constitutional law professor Laurence Tribe said.
O’Conner v. Donaldson (1975)
The case: After Kenneth Donaldson told his parents he thought his neighbor was poisoning his food, he was examined and diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. Against his will, he was committed to a state hospital for the next 15 years. During that time, two different people volunteered to be responsible for him, but the hospital refused to release him. He sued, saying the hospital staff had “intentionally and maliciously deprived him of his right to liberty.”
The decision: The Supreme Court held unanimously that mental patients could not be confined in institutions against their will, if they weren’t dangerous and were capable of surviving in society. In the opinion, Justice Potter Stewart wrote: “May the state fence in the harmless mentally ill solely to save its citizens from exposure to those whose ways are different? One might as well ask if the state, to avoid public unease, could incarcerate all who are physically unattractive or socially eccentric.”
The case: This was a case about freedom of speech, in particular about spending limits by, or for, candidates running for office. Sen. James L. Buckley, and a coalition of groups, filed a suit arguing that the Federal Election Campaign Act, which limited spending and required spending disclosures, weren’t constitutional.
The decision: The court held per curiam that independent spending was a form of political speech protected by the First Amendment. However, it also concluded that contributions could be capped. This is an important decision for campaign spending. It helped lead the way to the rising of political action committees, or PACs. It also led to the enforcement of reporting campaign spending.
First National Bank of Boston v. Belloti (1978)
The case: Several plaintiffs, including the First National Bank of Boston, wanted to challenge a proposed increase on personal income taxes for high-wage earners in Massachusetts. The plaintiffs wanted to pay for advertising to criticize it, but they could only spend money if they were “materially affected,” based on a Massachusetts law, which restricted what corporations could spend in politics. Attorney General Francis Bellotti said the bank wasn’t materially affected. The plaintiffs challenged the constitutionality of the provision.
Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (1978)
The case: Allan Bakke, a 35-year-old Vietnam war veteran, was rejected from medical school at the University of California twice. Every year, the school accepted 100 people, and 16 of those accepted were from “minority groups.” He argued his rejections were due to “reverse racism”, since his grades were better than the 16 people who got in on minority seats.
The decision: The Supreme Court held 5-4 that Bakke should be admitted. However, it also said race could be taken into account to promote diversity on campuses.
Six different justices wrote opinions. In one opinion, Justice Harry Blackmun wrote: “In order to get beyond racism, we must first take account of race. There is no other way. And in order to treat some persons equally, we must treat them differently.”
The case: David Washington was sentenced to death after he pleaded guilty to murder. But this case arose out of what his lawyer didn’t do during the trial. His lawyer failed to call any character witnesses or get a psychiatric evaluation. Washington appealed, arguing his counsel’s assistance was constitutionally ineffective.
The decision: The Supreme Court held 8-1 that ineffective counsel only violated the Sixth Amendment when the performance was deficient. For this, counsel assistance had to fall below an objective reasonableness standard, and there needed to be a “reasonable probability” the result would have been different had counsel not failed.
Justice Thurgood Marshall wrote in dissent: “My objection to the performance standard adopted by the Court is that it is so malleable that, in practice, it will either have no grip at all or will yield excessive variation … To tell lawyers and the lower courts that counsel for a criminal defendant must behave ‘reasonably’ and must act like ‘a reasonably competent attorney’ is to tell them almost nothing.”
Chevron USA Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council (1984)
The case: In 1977, Congress added an amendment to the Clean Air Act, requiring states to establish programs to reduce power plant pollution. In the amendment, entire power plants were treated as a single unit within a “bubble”, even if they had multiple smoke stacks. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) thought the bubble interpretation dulled the law, and sued the EPA.
The decision: The Supreme Court held unanimously that the bubble policy was valid. It found that if the law is clear then agencies must follow it, and when a a law does not have a clear meaning, the courts should defer to the federal agency’s interpretation of the law.
This is one of the most cited Supreme Court decisions of all time, and this standard became known as the “Chevron Defense.”
Texas v. Johnson (1989)
The case: During a protest in 1984 against then-President Ronald Reagan and local corporations in Dallas, Gregory Johnson covered the American flag in kerosene then lit it on fire, offending witnesses. He was arrested and charged with desecrating a venerated object, which was banned under Texas law. He was sentenced to one year in prison and ordered to pay $2,000. He appealed, on the basis that the law was in breach of his First Amendment rights.
The decision: The Supreme Court held 5-4 that burning the flag was protected under the First Amendment. In the majority opinion, Justice Brennan wrote: “if there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable … We do not consecrate the flag by punishing its desecration, for in doing so we dilute the freedom that this cherished emblem represents.”
The case: A man, for the purposes of the case named Michael, had an affair with a woman who later had a child. Blood tests indicated he was the father. He wanted visitation rights, but under California law, the child is presumed to be from the marriage, and another person can only challenge that within the child’s first two years of life. Michael was too late, and sued. The issue was whether the California law violated the man’s chance to establish paternity.
The decision: The Supreme Court held 5-4 that a biological father does not have a fundamental right to obtain parental rights, after the presumed father had acted in a responsible way for the child. A woman’s husband is to be presumed father of her children, regardless of anyone else’s claim.
Cruzan v. Director of the Missouri Department of Health (1990)
The case: In 1983, Nancy Cruzan, a 25-year-old woman, was in a car crash that resulted in her falling into a vegetative state. She was on life support for five years, and had no chance of recovery, but doctors estimated she could have lived on life support for another 30 years. Her parents asked for her to be disconnected, but the hospital refused without a court order. Before the car crash, Nancy had said she would not want to live if she were sick or injured and could not live “at least halfway normally.” Her parents asked for a court order to remove her from life support.
The decision: The Supreme Court held 5-4 that there was a right to die, but the state had the right to stop the family, unless there was “clear and convincing” evidence that it was her wish to die.
This was the first time the court had ruled on a right-to-die case. It didn’t set national guidelines, and left it to be decided on a state-by-state basis. In the month after the case, 300,000 requests were made for advance-directive forms, so people could make it known in advance what should happen to them if they became incapacitated.
Lawrence v. Texas (2003)
The case: Police entered a private residence on a false report about a weapons disturbance, and found Lawrence and Garner engaging in a consensual sexual act. They were arrested and convicted under Texas law, which forbid two people of the same sex to have sex. The issue for this case was whether the 14th Amendment protected them.
The decision: The Supreme Court held 6-3 that the Texas law violated their right to liberty, under the “Due Process Clause,” which allowed them to engage in their conduct without government intervention.
The case: After a fight at home between a separated couple, a woman called the police and told them to come in, then showed them cocaine she said her husband was using. The husband was later charged with possession, even though he had told the police they couldn’t come in. The issue was whether the police can search a home without a warrant when one person gives consent, but the other refuses.
The decision: The Supreme Court held 5-3 that in at least a few circumstances the right to search and enter is not valid if one of the occupants says they can’t, ruling in the husband’s favor.
This case narrows the scope for when police can enter and search homes without warrants. They can still enter to protect someone from harm or to chase a fleeing suspect, for example.
Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency (2007)
The case: This case came about in 1999, when Massachusetts, 11 other states, and several environmental organizations petitioned for the EPA to start regulating carbon dioxide coming out of new motor vehicles, since it was a pollutant. The EPA denied the petition, saying it did not have the legal authority to regulate it.
According to James Salzman, a professor of law and environmental policy at Duke University, the majority’s acknowledgement of climate change science put this case on the legal map. And since it made it almost impossible for the EPA not to regulate, the decision sent a message to other agencies that they also had to deal with climate change.
District of Columbia v. Heller (2008)
The case: Richard Heller, a security guard who lived in D.C. and carried a gun for work, was not allowed to have a gun at home, due to the city’s laws. He thought the laws were too restricting and made it impossible to defend himself. Heller, along with five others, sued, arguing it was a violation of the Second Amendment. They were funded by Robert Levy, a libertarian lawyer from the Cato Institute.
The decision: The Supreme Court held 5-4 that the Second Amendment guaranteed an individual’s right to possess a firearm at home for self-defense. It was the first time in 70 years the Supreme Court ruled on the Second Amendment.
The case: A non-profit organization called Citizens United made a disparaging film about Hilary Clinton and they wanted to run an advertisement for it during the 2008 election. But the Federal Election Campaign Act banned corporations and unions from spending money to advocate during elections. So Citizens United couldn’t show the film since it mentioned Clinton, who was a presidential candidate at the time. Citizens United argued the ban was unconstitutional.
The decision: The Supreme Court held 5-4 that corporations and unions can spend as much as they like to convince people to vote for or against political candidates, as long as the spending is independent of the candidates. The ruling gave corporations protections under the First Amendment’s right to free speech.
Justice John Paul Stevens wrote in dissent of the ruling, that it was “a rejection of the common sense of the American people,” and a threat to democracy.
National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius (2012)
The case: President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law in 2010 to increase the number of Americans covered by health insurance, and to decrease the cost of healthcare. Twenty-six states, several people, and the National Federation of Independent Business sued to overturn the law. The first issue was whether it was legal to require people to purchase health insurance with an individual mandate. The second was whether a provision forcing states to cover more people or lose federal funding was unconstitutionally coercive.
The decision: The Supreme Court held 5-4 that the individual mandate was legitimate, because it was in essence a tax, and struck down the provision that would withhold funds for states which did not expand the program.
It wasn’t without dissent, though. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that the decision was a “vast judicial overreaching,” which would create a “debilitated, inoperable version of health care regulation.”
Obergefell v. Hodges (2015)
The case: James Obergefell and John Arthur, a couple from Ohio, got married in Maryland. In Ohio, same-sex marriage was not allowed on death certificates. Arthur was chronically ill and wanted to have Obergefell on his death certificate. Along with three couples from Kentucky, Michigan, and Tennessee, they sued their states, claiming they were in breach of the Equal Protection Clause in the 14th Amendment, which says, “no state shall … deny to any citizen within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
The investigation started in July with employees inside Lewton’s office who raised concerns to local law enforcement about Lewton’s behavior. Sheriff’s deputies, in conjunction with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, conducted an investigation, said Tom Raynes, executive director of the Colorado District Attorneys’ Council.
Once evidence materialized, state officials consulted with Raynes about how to proceed since Lewton is in charge of the judicial district where the reported incidents took place. Raynes asked the district attorney in Routt County, who works on the opposite side of the state, is fairly new on the job and didn’t know Lewton, for that office to play an advisory role by reviewing the law enforcement investigation.
Routt deputy district attorney Matt Karzen confirmed his role but declined to talk about the nature of the potential allegations against Lewton.
Raynes said Karzen looked at the evidence and thought the case merited further investigation and so Karzen met with Polis’ office and representatives in Weiser’s office where the decision was reached to appoint a special prosecutor, Raynes said.
Brittny Lewton was first elected district attorney in 2012 and has worked in the office since she was an intern in 2005, according to her biography on the office’s website.
She wrote an email to employees earlier this week asking them to cooperate with the pending investigation. She also told them to seek outside counsel, like she did, if they felt it necessary.
“I am doing fine. Thank you to those of you who have reached out to me to check on my well-being,” the email said. “I have not been removed from office, unseated or replaced as DA, or had any other action taken against me. The only thing that has changed is that the order was issued. Thus, I intend to continue to show up to the office every day, carry out the obligations and duties that I swore to fulfill as a lawyer and as an elected district attorney.”
The bar is high to remove a district attorney from office. State law requires a recall by voters or impeachment by the state legislature.
Lewton is currently prosecuting convicted serial killer Scott Kimball, who is incarcerated in Sterling and is accused of plotting a prison escape and murder last year.
The Eastern Plains have been disproportionately affected by the state’s opioid crisis, according to the Colorado Health Institute. Sixteen rural counties recorded 93 deaths between 2014 and 2016 — up 158 percent from 36 in the three-year period between 2002 and 2004.
Weiser’s office had no timeline on how long an investigation by his office would take.
A former Google employee who says she was discriminated and retaliated against because of her pregnancy is planning on suing the company over the matter, according to a Vice report on Friday.
The woman, Chelsey Glasson, was the author of an internal memo that spread quickly within the tech giant earlier this month, causing an uproar amongst employees over allegations of discriminatory treatment by Google’s management team leading up her maternity leave. Before news of the potential lawsuit on Friday, Glasson had remained anonymous on the matter in public forums.
In one situation, described in the memo, while discussing her upcoming leave, Glasson said her manager questioned the benefits of bed rest due to a recent NPR report she had heard. In the same meeting, that manager allegedly told Gleason that a management role — which she currently held — would not be guaranteed upon her return and that she may consider interviewing with other teams at Google.
Glasson said in her memo that the stress of the situation at work leading up to her leave contributed to complications with her pregnancy.
With plans to bring a suit against Google, and, in part, raise awareness about pregnancy discrimination, Glasson has launched a GoFundMe page to raise $300,000 to cover potential legal fees. Any remaining funds, the former Googler says, will be donated to others fighting similar pregnancy discrimination cases. Glasson now works at Facebook.
When Glasson’s first memo circulated internally in early August, a Google spokesperson told Business Insider: “We prohibit retaliation in the workplace and publicly share our very clear policy.”
Google declined to comment to Business Insider upon Friday’s news that Glasson was planning to file a lawsuit against the company.
The memo is the latest of several recent workplace conflicts at Google that have caused a stir. In April, two of the main organizers for the company’s worldwide employee walkout, Claire Stapleton and Meredith Whittaker, said they were retaliated against for their efforts in leading protests against the company’s handling of sexual harassment and discrimination cases. Stapleton said she was demoted as a result and Whittaker said she was asked to abandon certain responsibilities. Both women have since left the company.
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Ito admitted in a letter on August 15 that he was financially connected to Epstein starting in 2013, but added, “In all of my interactions with Epstein, I was never involved in, never heard him talk about, and never saw any evidence of the horrific acts that he was accused of.”
Ito said that Epstein helped fund MIT Media Lab “through some of the foundations that he controlled,” and was also involved in Ito’s investment funds. “I also allowed him to invest in several of my funds which invest in tech startup companies outside of MIT,” he said.
In the wake of this admission, at least two high-profile employees at MIT Media Lab have quit.
Joichi Ito, the director of MIT’s Media Lab, a prominent lab known for its innovative work in a variety of tech-related fields, recently made a startling admission: He had known New York-based financier Jeffrey Epstein since 2013, had accepted funding for MIT’s Media Lab from Epstein, and had allowed Epstein to invest in his tech-focused investment funds outside of MIT.
Epstein was arrested July 6 on suspicion of sex trafficking minors. He was being held without bail awaiting trial on charges of conspiracy and sex trafficking. On August 10 Epstein died by suicide while being held at Manhattan’s Metropolitan Correctional Center.
In response to the news of Ito’s financial ties to Epstein, at least two scholars connected to MIT have very publicly quit; both specifically cited Ito’s ties to Epstein as the reason for their exits, The New York Times reported on Wednesday.
Those connections include, “a business relationship between Joi and Epstein, investments in companies Joi’s venture capital fund was supporting, gifts and visits by Epstein to the Media Lab and by Joi to Epstein’s properties.”
Ito founded and heads an investment company named Neoteny that funds a variety of tech-related startups. Neoteny’s website lists the following companies in its investment portfolio.
According to financial records uncovered by The New York Times, at least $200,000 was donated by Epstein to MIT. It’s unclear the extent to which Epstein provided funding for MIT Media Lab or to Ito’s outside investments, and it’s unclear if any of the $200,000 donations to MIT went to the Media Lab.
Neither Ito nor MIT responded to a request for comment. He remains director of MIT Media Lab.
Though Paget Brewster wasn’t a full member of the Criminal Minds cast for each and every season that it’s aired on CBS, the actress is as synonymous with the show as any of its other widely known stars. That’ll change soon, with Criminal Minds ending after Season 15, but Brewster has already lined up her next network TV role, and she’ll be sticking with CBS for it.
As revealed by the actress herself, Paget Brewster will appear opposite Allison Janney and Anna Faris on CBS’ hit comedy Mom for its upcoming Season 7, set to premiere in the fall. The comedically talented Brewster will take on the role of Veronica Stone, who joins the fray within the law firm as Christy’s new boss. This might not be the most ideal situation for Christy’s stress levels, though.
According to the character description, Veronica is quite importunate as a senior partner, and she demands her employees match up with her high expectations. Unfortunately, her energetic persona is often directly pointed at Christy, who takes the brunt of Veronica’s yelling and complaining. That should make for some amusing exchanges.
While it’s possible Paget Brewster’s role could be expanded as time goes on, she is currently set for two episodes of Mom Season 7. The first one is reportedly set to air on Thursday, October 10, in Mom‘s usual 9:00 p.m. time slot, though it will now have the new comedies The Unicorn and Carol’s Second Act airing before and after, with Young Sheldon taking over The Big Bang Theory‘s coveted lead-in position.
Check out Paget Brewster’s Twitter reveal below.
Interestingly, if Veronica Stone does indeed arrive in October, with more potential appearances to follow, Paget Brewster’s role on Mom will technically start up prior to her concluding run as Emily Prentiss on Criminal Minds. With this final season set for ten episodes, as opposed to the usual 20+, CBS execs chose to push Criminal Minds‘ premiere to 2020 as an anchor for the network’s midseason entries.
Since she has spent more years on Criminal Minds than any other project, fans might think of Paget Brewster as a fully dramatic actress, but her Mom casting is the latest in a long line of comedic roles that Brewster always excels in. For instance, her other big roles in recent years came on Community, Comedy Central’s Another Period, Disney’s DuckTales reboot, and the short-lived John Stamos comedy Grandfathered.
Plus, the other big post-Criminal Minds role that Paget Brewster signed up for is returning her to the world of Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law. She’ll be reprising the role of Birdgirl, real name Judy Ken Sebben, for the spinoff series Birdgirl, centering on her promotion to head of the now-corporation Sebben & Sebben, and all of the problems that provides.
Fans shouldn’t expect too many belly laughs for Criminal Minds‘ final season, which will continue the story of the final big bad Unsub introduced at the end of Season 14. There will likely be some lighter moments, hopefully involving Reid and J.J., as well as Rossi’s life as a newly married man. But things will likely get very dark before that big series finale.
Without a specific date set yet for Season 15, which wrapped principal production earlier this year, Criminal Minds will return to CBS at some point in the new year, so stay tuned for more updates. Mom, meanwhile, will hit the network for Season 7 on Thursday, September 26, at 9:00 p.m.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Documents have been released in the Patrick Frazee case, the man accused of murdering his fiance Kelsey Berreth last Thanksgiving who is now on trial for murder.
Frazee faces a max sentence of life in prison after the District Attorney’s office did not file to pursue the death penalty.
At a motion hearing Friday, a judge will be asked to consider several questions, including about jury selection and if Frazee’s lawyer must disclose whether they’re going to try to pin the blame on someone else.
Criminal Defense lawyer, Pat Mika, says they might be thinking of Krystal Kenney, the woman who told police that Frazee killed Berreth.
“They’ve given that person a deal,” says Mika. “We know that that individual was found with evidence connecting her to the crime scene. We also know that she came in and sanitized the crime scene.”
A month after Berreth went missing, investigators from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation pulled evidence out of her apartment.
In February after Frazee’s preliminary hearing, Jennifer Viehman, with the District Attorney’s Office said Kenney described the scene as horrific. “There’s blood everywhere. There’re bloody footprints everywhere,” Kenney had said.
Days later, investigators arrested Frazee on his property after they’d conducted a massive search there.
While he’s avoided cameras, there’s no doubt that thousands have watched this story unfold.
Now Mika says his defense might be worried they won’t be able to find enough jury members who’ve yet to form an opinion.
“A fair and impartial jury is the cornerstone to a fair trial in our system,” Mike explains.
Facebook has sent a cease-and-desist letter to the creator of a controversial app that lets Instagram users track their friends’ locations, in what appears to be a renewed effort to clamp down on flagrant abuses of its user-data rules.
Who’s in Town, built by the developer Erick Barto, is a service that monitors the locations of people you follow on Instagram. It does so by keeping an ongoing record of where your connections tagged their posts and stories. By recording this data over time, the app is able to build a detailed map of people’s movements.
It’s a similar concept to the data scrapping that Hyp3r engaged in — though Hyp3r used the collected data for advertising and marketing purposes, while Who’s in Town is geared toward ordinary people who want to see their contacts’ locations.
The purpose, Barto said, was to highlight the amount of data people are sharing online all the time, how Instagram makes it easily available for collection, and how it can be misused.
“The reason we made Who’s in Town is first and foremost to show people how much data they are sharing and to ask themselves if they are OK with how much and who they are sharing it with,” Barto wrote in an email.
“If [Facebook and other platforms] found a way to provide developers access to use some data without the ability to centralize it (ie using it only on the end user’s device), like Who’s in Town does, it would allow for great products to be built in a safe way. But the first step towards that would have to be shutting down the backdoors used by hundreds of unauthorized [developers] today,” Barto added.
On Thursday, lawyers for Instagram sent Barto a formal cease-and-desist letter, demanding that he immediately close down his app and account for all data that was collected. Barto shared the letter with Business Insider, and you can read it in full below.
“We represent Facebook, Inc., based in Menlo Park, California. It has come to Facebook’s attention that you are scraping and storing Instagram users’ login credentials and location data for monetary gain,” an attorney at the Perkins Coie law firm wrote. “Facebook demands that these activities stop immediately.” Barto has also had his personal Facebook account disabled.
It’s not clear why Instagram, if it believes Who’s in Town is in violation its policies, waited almost a month to send it a cease-and-desist letter.
The timing suggests that it is at least in part a response to Hyp3r’s activities; the letter is dated August 8, a day after Business Insider published its investigation.
In an email, a Facebook spokesperson said that it blocked Who’s in Town after conducting an investigation that finished last week. “We have shut down the app Who’s in Town after determining that it violated our policies by requesting information from Instagram users — including usernames and passwords. That then allowed it to collect location data on people. Our action follows an internal investigation of the company’s practices that was completed last week,” they said.
Hyp3r was also issued a cease-and-desist notice and subsequently closed its platform. An Instagram spokesperson declined to comment on whether the company has also sent cease-and-desist notices to other developers beyond Hyp3r and Who’s in Town.
Re: Cease and Desist Abuse of Facebook – Who’s in Town
Dear Mr. Barto:
Facebook demands that these activities stop immediately.
Facebook takes the protection of the user experience very seriously and is committed to keeping its websites a safe place for users to interact and share information. Instagram has developed its Terms of Service and Platform Policy to protect its users and facilitate these goals.
They prohibit, among other things:
Permitting unauthorized access, use, or disclosure of data obtained from Instagram;
Accessing or collecting data through automated means outside of approved application channels;
Using or sharing data on Instagram without users’ consent; and
In addition to breaching the Terms of Service and Platform Policy, and interfering with Facebook’s business expectations and interests, your activities may violate other federal and state laws. See Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1030 and the California Comprehensive Computer Data Access and Fraud Act, Cal. Penal Code § 502(c).
Your license to access Facebook has been revoked. You, your agents, your employees and/or anyone acting on behalf of Who’s in Town (collectively “You” or “Your”) may not access the Facebook or Instagram websites and applications, employ their APIs, or use any of the services offered by Facebook for any reason whatsoever.Facebook will consider further activity by You on its websites or services as unauthorized access to its protected computer networks.
Please respond to me WITHIN 48 hours confirming that You:
Have stopped and will not in the future access the Facebook websites and/or use Facebook’s services for any reason whatsoever;
Have stopped and will not in the future collect, offer, transfer, market, offer to sell any data or services related to Facebook and Instagram;
Have removed all references to Facebook and Instagram from any and all other websites that you own or have the ability to control;
Will, following compliance with all terms of this letter, including the accounting required below, delete all data collected from Facebook and Instagram in any manner;
Have preserved and will continue to preserve in the future all other information related to Your scraping of Instagram data;
Will account for and disgorge any and all revenue earned from Your unauthorized activities related to Facebook; and
Will memorialize in writing your commitment to comply with the demands of this letter.
Along with your response, you must provide the following information:
A complete and detailed technical explanation of your activities, including a full list of all applications or APIs that you utilized or developed;
A complete accounting of any and all Instagram user data (regardless of how it was gathered) in your possession, and thereafter confirm that it has been deleted;
A complete list of any and all third parties to whom you have provided access to Instagram data through your API or in any other manner other than through your publicly available application;
A complete list of any and all Facebook and Instagram accounts You have created, developed, maintained, or controlled; and
A copy of each and every version of any software code You have developed or used to interact with the Facebook and Instagram websites and/or services.
If you ignore this letter and continue your current improper conduct, Facebook will take whatever measures it believes are necessary to enforce its rights, maintain the quality of its respective websites, and protect users’ information and privacy.
This letter is not intended by Facebook, and should not be construed by you, as a waiver or relinquishment of any of Facebook’s rights or remedies in this matter. Facebook specifically reserves all such rights and remedies, whether at law or in equity, under applicable domestic and foreign laws.
Ariel B. Glickman
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