Opening Statement
March 18, 2015
Edited by Andrew Cohen
Opening Statement is our pick of the day's criminal justice news. Not a subscriber? Sign up. For original reporting from The Marshall Project, visit our website.

Pick of the News

Missouri executes a brain-damaged man. After the U.S. Supreme Court rejects a stay of execution by a single vote, the state kills Cecil Clayton for a 1996 murder. Defense attorney: “Cecil Clayton had — literally — a hole in his head.” St. Louis Public Radio Related: A new study reveals that most death penalty sentences are overturned, not carried out. The Washington Post

A certified trend, designed to help ex-offenders looking for work. “Certificates of Good Conduct,” which assure prospective employers that the bearer is a good risk following incarceration, are growing in popularity around the nation. TMP’s Eli Hager reports. The Marshall Project

Before you complete that March Madness bracket... How running an office pool — okay, a very lucrative office pool — ruined this New Jersey man’s life. A long take on the complicated laws that govern (or don’t govern) betting in America. NJ.COM

Policing the police. The NYPD is reportedly ready to create a special internal unit to investigate police shootings. The move is unlikely to quell calls for independent probes. Staten Island Advance Related: In Seattle, after three years of federal monitoring, progress in reforming the city’s beleaguered police force. The Seattle Times

It helps to be rich, for one thing. What “The Jinx” teaches us about modern law enforcement investigations. TMP’s Dana Goldstein and Eli Hager draw a few lessons from the latest true-crime sensation. The Marshall Project Related: The LAPD says its case against Durst is “independent” of any information from the HBO documentary. Los Angeles Times


“You are under more danger from me than you are from them.” A Missouri lawmaker wants some elderly inmates released from custody. St. Louis Post-Dispatch

After Texas riot, the Bureau of Prisons terminates its contract with a private prison company criticized for poor treatment of inmates. Frontline Context: After Willacy. The Marshall Project

A federal review of San Diego, California’s police department cites a failure of leadership in a wave of misconduct by line officers. The San Diego Union-Tribune More: No charges for Florida police officers who fired 100 shots at a fleeing motorist. The Miami Herald

A survivor of the Columbine High School massacre advances as a possible juror in the Aurora, Colorado theater shooting trial. CBS News/Associated Press

With a Supreme Court case pending, Florida lawmakers move another step closer to requiring unanimous jury verdicts in capital cases. Tampa Bay Times

Heroin use surges in Maryland and Virginia — and so do overdose deaths. WTOP


They did the time, why can’t they pull the lever? How Minnesota Republicans are signing on to new rules that would ease felon disenfranchisement. Slate

Why are some Kansas conservatives against the death penalty? Let them count the ways. Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty

With friends like these. The day Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s old friend took the witness stand — and testified against him. The Boston Globe

The Eric Holder Full Employment Act. How long will Republicans, who hold the current Attorney General in such contempt, ensure that he remains in office? Vox

Restraint in the Age of Ferguson. Why I didn’t call the police when I saw two black boys with guns next door. The Guardian


Technology of the Day: A computer “glitch” (now fixed) may have allowed California fugitives, including killers and rapists, to avoid capture. The Desert Sun

Exoneration of the Day: Convicted of murder in 2008, Jamal Trulove is free today after the ballistics case against him fell apart, prosecutorial misconduct was discovered, and jurors refused to believe a key witness against him. The National Registry of Exonerations

History of the Day: A short (and incomplete) list of people who seem to have incriminated themselves on camera. The Washington Post

Question of the Day: Does the First Amendment protect from prosecution a 911 caller who swears at the police over the telephone? Southern Center for Human Rights

Quote of the Day: “There is more racism in the Justice Department then there is any, uh, yes, anywhere that I see in the St. Louis area.” So says Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder. Buzzfeed Related: DOJ official asks: “What kind of police department do Ferguson residents want? The Washington Post

Government Job of the Day: Welcome to the nation’s only government-run marijuana shop, led by a woman who once managed a Bed Bath & Beyond. The Washington Post

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