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The Marshall Project
Opening Statement
March 31, 2021
Edited by Andrew Cohen
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Pick of the News

Biden’s first judicial picks and promotions include four former public defenders. U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, tapped to succeed Merrick Garland on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, was a federal public defender in Washington, D.C. before joining the bench. Many believe she’ll be nominated one day to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Washington Post Candace Jackson-Akiwumi, chosen by the White House for a seat on the currently all-White 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, served for a decade as a federal public defender in Chicago. The New York Times More: 11 candidates in all. The Whte House

Firefighter tried to help George Floyd as he lay dying but was rebuffed by police. Tuesday’s testimony in the murder trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin centered around witnesses who filmed or watched the deadly encounter. Minneapolis Star Tribune More: Even as the evidence mounts against Chavin, many Black residents in Minneapolis remain skeptical about an eventual conviction. Slate Another look at the trial jurors and their views on policing and race. The New York Times Chauvin’s trial is the first ever to be broadcast live and in full from a Minnesota courtroom. Columbia Journalism Review

U.S. attorney general Merrick Garland vows “renewed energy” on hate crime cases. The Justice Department has launched a 30-day review of the government’s tracking capabilities and prosecution of hate crimes as they continue to spread around the nation. USA Today The DOJ memo to all U.S. Attorneys announcing the review comes as local police departments report rises in hate crimes directed toward Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. Associated Press TMP Context: Why police struggle to report hate crimes targeting victims’ gender. The Marshall Project

Two Capitol Police officers filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday against Donald Trump, alleging that the former president caused them “physical and emotional” injuries during the January riot and insurrection. The officers claim that Trump “inflamed, encouraged, incited, directed and aided and abetted” a deadly mob. The Washington Post More: The mother of a police officer injured during the riot says her family is outraged by recent Trump comments that insurrectionists were “hugging and kissing” cops in the Capitol. CNN

America’s deadly rural jails. Officials in rural areas and small cities use pretrial detention more often and are less likely to have diversion programs and other services designed to keep more people out of jail pending trial. Underfunded jails also tend to have fewer mental health programs or services to help suicidal prisoners. The result is a ceaseless wave of incarceration and death. “They’re innocent ‘til proven guilty,” says a lawyer. “But before they can have a day in court, and have a chance to prove that they’re innocent, they’re dead.” The Atlantic TMP Context: Your local jail may be a house of horrors. The Marshall Project

N/S/E/W

More on the battle for Rocky Mount, Virginia. A photograph of two local police officers posing inside the U.S. Capitol on January 6continues to heighten divisions in a town struggling with its racial divide in the wake of the death of George Floyd. The Washington Post

One family’s story of border separation. A 5-year-old boy’s fear and sorrow. A mother’s worry. An uncle’s sacrifice. A joyful reunion last week in Texas. Los Angeles Times

A wave of pandemic-fueled violent trauma leading to their emergency rooms has left medical workers in Denver, Colorado, traumatized and seeking their own mental health care. Colorado Sun

Officials in Louisiana won’t keep track of the number of deaths inside the state’s prisons, jails and detention facilities. So the Loyola University law school is going to create and maintain its own database to track those details. NOLA.com

A judge in Michigan this week slightly narrowed the charges against three men accused of plotting to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer last year. The case against them will still go to trial. Detroit Free Press

Commentary

Call and response on immigration. Only a coherent, long-term solution to the nation’s immigration problem will stop more of the heartbreak we see at the border. The Atlantic More: There will be no long-term solution on immigration so long as one side sees human decency as a political weakness. The New Yorker

Six ways to ease the toll of gun violence. Tweaks rather than broader federal reforms but each would make it harder for people who shouldn’t own guns to have them. Politico

A new kind of taxpayer bill of rights. Police departments and police unions, which enable a lack of accountability and transparency in policing, should be held financially responsible for brutality or other misconduct settlements. MarketWatch

Compassionate release during a pandemic doesn’t include the digital literacy needed to allow former prisoners to perform even simple tasks online. Like attending a Zoom call or making an appointment to get the COVID-19 vaccine or see a doctor. USA Today

We shouldn’t be imprisoning people for petty theft. New York legislators could soon have the chance to update the state’s felony theft threshold and tether it to inflation rates. The New York Times

Etc.

The National Rifle Association looks to Texas for rescue. Weakened by scandal, the gun rights group has both filed for bankruptcy and tried to reassure supporters that it is financially sound. The Daily Beast/The Trace

You shouldn’t be punished for exercising your trial rights. New York’s “trial penalty,” plea bargains manipulated by prosecutors and judges, have “fundamentally transformed the criminal legal system into a plea system in which trials are nearly extinct,” concludes a new report. National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers More: The highlights. Sentencing Law and Policy

The fight over non-unanimous juries continues one year after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down their use. The current conflict focuses on how many of the thousands of people affected by the old rule can get new trials or other relief from the courts. PBS TMP Context: A vestige of bigotry. The Marshall Project

To the left of Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey. Sheila Nezhad, a community organizer running for mayor this fall, is part of a group that wants to replace the police department there with a “Department of Violence Prevention.” The Appeal

“Children Under Fire: An American Crisis.” A new book about child victims of gun violence reminds us of the collateral damage kids suffer and how often the rest of us overlook that trauma. The Washington Post

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