Legal Research Blog


Lawdable Quotes: Sophocles

Nobody has a more sacred obligation to obey the law than those who make the law.
~ Sophocles

Lawable Quotes: Clarence Darrow

There is no such thing as justice – in or out of court.
 ~ Clarence Darrow (1936)

Question Presented: May an officer pat down a passenger in a routine traffic stop?

On December 9, 2008, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in Arizona v. Johnson – the case about whether an articulable suspicion is enough to allow a police officer to pat down a passanger.  The Petitioner will argue that, under Terry, pat downs are reasonable whenever an officer lawfully seizes a person and has a resonable belief that the person is dangerous, the officer may pat that person down .  The defense will respond that Terry requires both reasonable suspicion of criminal activity and resonable suspicion of a threat to safety for a valid protective search.

Detroit County Brings Ex-Acorn Worker to Justice

Jemar Barksdale will serve between six and twenty-three months of home confinement following his guilty plea – he was one of the ACORN workers who falsified voter registration cards in Pennsylvania.  He will also need to pay ACORN $574 in restitution because he forged the registration cards.  

ACORN is the neighborhood-based organization that advocates for underfunded communities and new votor registration.  Its voter registration program has been investigated for fraud, especially following the 2008 Presidential Election.  ACORN appears to be cooporating with the investigation. 

Scentific American Podcast: Broken Windows Crime Theory

Scientific American has an interesting podcast discussion on the effectiveness of the broken windows crime theory. Check out the full transcript below or listen to the podcast here.

Full Text:

 It’s called the “broken windows” theory and it says that in a neighborhood where buildings have broken windows, people are more likely to engage in bad behavior. Maybe because they figure no one will care. Or there’s little chance they’ll get caught. The idea has been embraced by people in law enforcement—crack down on petty crime and you’ll also put a halt to more serious offenses. New York City, for example, used the logic to justify a “zero tolerance” approach to things like the squeegeeing of car windows. But the theory has been hard to prove. Crime did go down in New York, but was it directly related to the squeegee decline? 

Now Dutch scientists say that there may be something to the whole “broken windows” thing, after all. For example, they found that cyclists who parked their bikes near a wall covered in graffiti were twice as likely to litter than people who parked near the same wall after it was painted clean. The results were published online by the journalScience on November 20th. I guess we should be thankful that the cyclists’ bad behavior stopped at littering. And they didn’t decide to, say, swipe a better set of wheels for the ride home.
If you are interested in the full text of the study it is available here. (Subscription To Science Journal Required)  
The Economist also has a nice write of the study available here.