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APA in the news:

We need leeway on searches: Opposing view

The Association of Prosecuting Attorneys believes it will be difficult to determine the impact of Wednesday's Supreme Court decision for some time, because the court left the door open for searches when officer safety and destruction of evidence is a real threat.  There is a compelling government interest in allowing officers to search smartphones in certain circumstances without first obtaining a warrant. Law enforcement officials should have leeway when there is an immediate need to protect the officers, the public and/or evidence.  The court ruled that cellphone digital data don't present a threat of harm to officers or generally risk the destruction of evidence. Prosecutors and other law enforcement officials are concerned that there are situations where digital data do pose a threat. - USA TODAY

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Deadly brawl is latest test of self defense laws

DENVER — A Colorado prosecutor said he’s frustrated that the state’s “Make My Day” law prevents him from charging a man who killed an acquaintance during a drunken brawl that spilled into his home, becoming the latest test to self-defense gun laws nationwide.  The New Year’s Day shooting involving “foolish, drunken children” likely was not what lawmakers had in mind when they adopted Colorado’s law, Mesa County District Attorney Pete Hautzinger said. It protects homeowners from prosecution for using deadly force when someone illegally enters their home and there’s reason to believe that person will commit a crime.  Self-defense laws like Colorado’s have received renewed attention recently after deadly shootings in Montana, Minnesota and Nevada. - The Washington Post

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Last stand for the drug warriors

Three decades ago, in announcing an initiative to curtail drug abuse, President Reagan compared the enforcement of drug laws to the Battle of Verdun -- one of the costliest and deadliest battles of World War I.  Six years later, Congress had passed laws imposing across-the-board mandatory minimum penalties for drug offenses, authorizing billions of dollars for enforcement, and establishing a national policy to create a “Drug-Free America.”  Thus the modern "War on Drugs" was born.  It has not aged well. - The Hill

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Congress must act to end horse show cruelty

Every day, behind closed stable doors, Tennessee walking horses suffer immense pain at the hands of their trainers.  The horses’ legs are soaked with caustic chemicals and wrapped in plastic to “cook” their flesh. Hard objects are wedged into the tender parts of their hooves making each step painful. Trainers use these cruel practices to force horses to perform the exaggerated “Big Lick” gait prized at some horse shows. To further accentuate this extreme, unnatural gait, tall, heavy “stacks” are nailed to the horses’ hooves, and chains are hung around their legs that exacerbate the pain. - The Hill

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Phone calls made from jail could hurt inmates' cases

ORLANDO — Jennifer Helen Richmond may have thought she was talking in confidence when she allegedly detailed plans to get out of jail and then flee to Jamaica with her pimp.  George and Shellie Zimmerman likely didn’t think anyone else would decipher the codes they used during phone calls.  But investigators were listening to their jailhouse phone conversations, and prosecutors later used their words against them.  Telephone calls are recorded for security purposes at the jail, but these conversations can bolster prosecutors’ cases and become a nightmare for defense attorneys.  Despite being warned every time they make a call that they are being recorded, inmates in Central Florida talk about their cases and sometimes make incriminating statements over the phone.  “Depending on how strong the case is for the prosecution based upon the evidence, it could blow the case right out of the water,” said Orlando defense attorney Andrew Moses. “It can lead to their conviction.”  Recording inmate phone calls is a common practice at jails across the country, said Dave LaBahn, president of the Washington-based Association of Prosecuting Attorneys. - Florida Courier

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Milwaukee's Spot Abuse Project Targets Domestic and Animal Violence

An astounding 76% of animal abusers also abuse a family member, according to the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys.  That’s the sobering statistic behind the Spot Abuse Project, a first-of-its-kind campaign launched May 1 by the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office, Milwaukee Police Department, Wisconsin Humane Society, Sojourner Family Peace Center, Serve Marketing and Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control Commission (MADACC).  The campaign aims to create awareness of the inextricable link between animal abuse and domestic and family violence, and to encourage those who witness animal abuse to take action and dial 911.

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'Stand Your Ground' Laws Tested In Recent Shootings

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A Montana man is accused of setting a trap and blindly blasting a shotgun into his garage, killing a 17-year-old German exchange student. A Minnesota man is convicted of lying in wait in his basement for two teenagers and killing them during a break-in.  The two recent cases take the "stand your ground" debate to a new level: Do laws that allow private citizens to protect their property also let them set a trap and wait for someone to kill?  "We don't want it to be easy to be able to prosecute people. But we want to be able to hold individuals accountable when they have stepped outside the bounds of society," David LaBahn, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, said Wednesday.  More than 30 states have laws expanding the self-defense principle known as the "castle doctrine," a centuries-old premise that a person has the right to defend their home against attack, LaBahn said. The name evokes the old saying, "my home is my castle." - Huffington Post

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Hometown Hero: Law enforcement cracking down on animal cruelty

Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds has issued a blunt warning to pet owners: treat your dogs and cats humanely or you might wind up in the hoosegow. That’s right. Prison.  Even if you don’t go to jail, abusers are likely to have their pets confiscated and adopted out to new owners, said Reynolds, who started an animal abuse unit soon after taking office last year.  Because he is cracking down on animal abusers, Reynolds recently was named one of the nation’s top 10 animal defenders by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, a national non-profit group based in Cotati, Calif.  To report abuse, people should call their local animal control (in Cobb, the number is 770-499-4136), unless it’s an emergency, in which case, dial 911.  “We’re seeing more and more,” he said. “We’ve had some egregious cases. One now pending involves a man alleged to having decapitated some puppies. Another involved a Yorkshire terrier.” - Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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Many wrongfully convicted are simply on their own

NEW YORK — Jonathan Fleming is finally getting some rest, even if he's sleeping on a cousin's couch in Brooklyn after spending 24 years in prison for a murder he didn't commit.  Fleming, 52, was wrongfully convicted of second-degree murder in New York. He walked free on April 8, 2014.  More than a dozen news cameras crowded into and around the Brooklyn Supreme Court building to capture the moment. Nine days later, Fleming, minus the fanfare, stood in line to collect food stamps. He hopes to find a job and is looking for a permanent place to live. - USA TODAY

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