‘Critical threat’ to medical marijuana falls as lawmakers consider nine cannabis bills

‘Critical threat’ to medical marijuana falls as lawmakers consider nine cannabis bills

A Senate panel chaired by a member of the state’s Medical Marijuana Oversight Committee shot down a bill Wednesday with far-reaching implications for cannabis patients.

Among nine bills that would adjust South Dakota’s medical cannabis laws this legislative session in Pierre, seven remain alive, including bills to hike the price of a dispensary license, allow police to search dispensaries and force prescribers to notify a patient’s primary care provider about their receipt of a card.

The now-scuttled Senate Bill 82 was the most concerning for cannabis advocates, according to Jeremiah Murphy, a lobbyist for the Cannabis Industry Association of South Dakota.

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Series of prison, criminal defense bills move through SD Legislature

Series of state penitentiary, criminal defense bills move through SD Legislature

It’s been two weeks since the South Dakota Legislature first convened, and a series of bills related to the planned operation of a state penitentiary in Lincoln County are slated for discussion and debate.

While some have already advanced, another was quickly swept away. A third cluster of bills have yet to be discussed.

As questions swirl about how to approach and logistics of the construction and operation of a new penitentiary, so do questions about Sec. Kellie Wasko, head of the state’s Department of Corrections (DOC). Continue reading “Series of state penitentiary, criminal defense bills move through SD Legislature”

Legislation prohibiting swatting unveiled by Republicans

Legislation prohibiting swatting unveiled by Republicans

A pair of Republican lawmakers are seeking to crack down on “swatting” incidents, introducing legislation on Wednesday to prohibit such calls under the federal criminal hoax statute.

Republican Sens. Rick Scott (Fla.) and Tommy Tuberville (Ala.) on Wednesday unveiled the bill, titled the Preserving Safe Communities by Ending Swatting Act, which would amend the federal criminal hoax statute and establish strict penalties for swatting, including up to 20 years in prison if the attempt or attempts lead to serious injury.

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Appeals court upholds pair of Iowa ‘ag gag’ laws

Appeals court upholds pair of Iowa ‘ag gag’ laws

Saying they are not overly restrictive of free speech, two of Iowa’s so-called “ag gag” laws — which create penalties for individuals who trespass on agricultural property with intent to create financial harm — are constitutional, a federal appeals court ruled this week.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit delivered similar rulings Monday in two cases, reversing a lower court decision in both. A district-court ruling on a third lawsuit remains pending, the Iowa Attorney General’s Office said.

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Chief justice: Prioritize public defense, problem solving courts and help for young adults

Chief justice: Prioritize public defense, problem solving courts and help for young adults

South Dakota should embrace the role of public defenders, work to guide young adults out of trouble’s way, try harder to protect judges from danger and support problem-solving alternative courts, South Dakota Supreme Court Chief Justice Steven Jensen told lawmakers on Wednesday at the Capitol in Pierre.

Jensen also touched on potential changes to bar admission for law school graduates, trumpeting the work of a committee that recently recommended a pathway to licensure through public service or rural practice.

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Violent Crime Is Dropping Across the Nation—But Not in Washington, D.C. Here’s Why

Violent Crime Is Dropping Across the Nation—But Not in Washington, D.C. Here’s Why

In 2023, most large U.S. cities saw a precipitous drop in the rate of homicides. Despite the public perception of a rise in violent crime in major metropolitan areas, cities like Chicago and New York City saw dramatic declines in murders from 2022. But a few cities bucked that trend, including the nation’s capital. With the fifth-highest murder rate among the country’s most populous cities, Washington, D.C. has drawn national attention for its recent spike in violent crime.

The statistics are sobering: 2023 was the District’s deadliest year since 1997, with 274 recorded homicides. With 40 homicides per 100,000 residents—an increase of 35 percent from the previous year—D.C.’s high murder rate contrasted with falling levels in most other major cities, an ominous reminder of the District’s unofficial status in the late twentieth century as “America’s murder capital.” The high number of homicides was inextricable from gun violence, as the majority of these homicides were caused by firearms.

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Bringing law and medicine together to improve criminal defense representation

Bringing law and medicine together to improve criminal defense representation

Professor Alison K. Guernsey recently presented at a continuing legal education (CLE) seminar focused on improving federal criminal defense practices, alongside Dr. Alison Lynch, a psychiatrist at the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics.

Professor Guernsey is director of Iowa Law’s Federal Criminal Defense Clinic, where law students have the opportunity to act as real attorneys and handle federal criminal cases under Guernsey’s supervision. Students represent indigent people charged with federal crimes at the district court level, as well as in post-conviction and sentence-reduction proceedings, including compassionate release. Before coming to Iowa, Guernsey was the supervising attorney for the Federal Defenders of Eastern Washington and Idaho.

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Federal Bureau Of Prisons Faces Many Challenges In 2024

Federal Bureau Of Prisons Faces Many Challenges In 2024

With 2023 drawing to a close, the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) completed its first full year under the leadership of Director Colette Peters. Peters replaced controversial director Michael Carvajal who took over leadership of the BOP just as COVID-19 ripped across the country and brutally attacked prison populations across the country. Peters, who promised a more humane approach to prisoner care stating, “Our job is not to make good inmates. It’s to make good neighbors.” With that promise, challenges remain.

The BOP has huge responsibilities in the care and feeding of over 150,000 prisoners in its care and over 36,000 staff. It has an $8.7 billion annual budget and houses some of the most infamous criminals in the United States. It also houses nearly 50,000 inmates who are low and minimum security prisoners, many of whom are eligible for earlier release due to the First Step Act, a 2018 law that can decrease a sentence term by up to a year and potentially increase the amount of time the prisoner spends in community confinement.

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‘Deepfakes’ child pornography ban pitched by attorney general

‘Deepfakes’ child pornography ban pitched by attorney general

People who make, possess or distribute computer-generated child pornography would be in line for up to 10 years in prison and a spot on the South Dakota Sex Offender Registry under a bill proposed by Attorney General Marty Jackley.

The digital content ban would include imagery or videos built to resemble real children – “deepfakes,” in internet parlance – as well as imagery and videos that don’t target or resemble specific people, as generated through artificial intelligence or other software programs.

Possession of computer-generated child pornography is legal today under state law. When local local investigators discover a tranche of digital child porn, there’s nothing a state’s attorney can do but hand off the investigation materials to federal prosecutors, Jackley said.

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A federal judge will write the next chapter for Iowa’s book ban law

A federal judge will write the next chapter for Iowa’s book ban law

Two lawsuits aim to block the state from enforcing SF 496, which bans books with sexual content and prohibits instruction about sexual orientation and gender identity in K-6.

A federal judge plans to decide by Jan. 1 whether to block enforcement of a new education law that bans books containing sexual acts from school libraries and prohibits instruction related to sexual orientation and gender identity in K-6 classrooms.

The hearing in a Des Moines courtroom Friday combined arguments in two separate lawsuits challenging SF 496 as unconstitutional.

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