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Showing posts from 2008

California Supreme Court Expands Measures to Eliminate Jury Bias

On July 24, 2008, the California Supreme Court committed to a position it has resisted for nearly twenty years by holding that evidence supporting the need for a comparative jury analysis must be considered on appeal if relied upon by the defendant, even if the issue was not raised at the trial level. A comparative jury analysis examines the prosecutor’s questions to potential jurors to determine whether the prosecutor eliminated certain jurors based on racial motivations or because of a membership to a particular group.
People v. Lenix, S148029, 2008 WL 2834291 (Cal. July 24, 2008) involved the prosecution of Arthur Lenix, an African-American man. During jury selection, the prosecution made five peremptory challenges, with the fifth challenge eliminating the last remaining black potential juror. Defense counsel challenged the decision, claiming that the strike was based on race. On appeal, the defense sought to compare the answers of potential white jurors who were se…

United States Supreme Court Curtails Federal Money-Laundering Statute

On June 2, 2008 the United States Supreme Court severely limited the reach of the Money-Laundering Control Act (18 U.S.C. § 1956) in two separate decisions. In Cuellar v. United States (2008) 128 S.Ct. 1994, the Court unanimously held that in order to obtain a money-laundering conviction, the prosecution must prove that the defendant specifically intended his actions to conceal or disguise the attributes of the illegally obtained funds.

This interpretation is a sharp deviation from the flexibility that has been attached to the statute since its creation in 1986. A person commits money laundering when he transports illegal funds, “knowing that the transaction is designed…to conceal or disguise the nature, the location, the source, the ownership, or the control of the proceeds of specified unlawful activity.” 18 U.S.C. § 1956. Courts have, however, traditionally interpreted the word “designed” liberally, allowing for convictions when merely the effect, not the intent, of the transpo…