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Laypersons rival popular software in ability to predict recidivism, study says

Posted by on Jan 18, 2018 in Elder Care | Comments Off on Laypersons rival popular software in ability to predict recidivism, study says

Criminal Justice

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Software that predicts the risk of a defendant committing new crimes performed no better than people responding to an online survey, a Dartmouth College study has found.

The study found that the online group, who had no presumed criminal justice experience, had an accuracy rate of 67 percent in predicting recidivism, compared 65.2 percent for the software known as COMPAS (Correctional Offender Management Profiling for Alternative Sanctions).

The software uses 137 pieces of information to make a prediction. But the study, published in Science Advances, found the same level of accuracy can be achieved using only two variables: a defendant’s age and number of prior convictions.

COMPAS has been used to assess over 1 million offenders since its development in 1998. Beginning in 2000, the software added a recidivism component that predicts a defendant’s risk of committing a misdemeanor or felony within the next two years.

Such software has been used in bail, parole, and sentencing decisions, spurring objections from defense lawyers who raise due process concerns about its proprietary algorithm.

The online study participants saw a short description of a defendant that included sex, age and previous criminal history, but not race. The participants were asked whether the defendant would commit another crime within two years of their most recent crime.

The researchers used 1,000 defendant descriptions that were divided into 20 equal subsets. Each person in a group of 20 study participants saw the same subset. The researchers used the prediction reached by a majority of each 20-person group.

The accuracy rate for black defendants was 68.2 percent for the layperson group, compared to 64.9 percent for COMPAS, while the accuracy rate for white defendants was 67.6 percent for the laypeople, compared to 65.7 percent for COMPAS.

But the study found that the mistakes affected blacks and whites differently. The rate at which defendants were wrongly predicted to reoffend—a false positive—was 37.1 for black defendants and 27.2 percent for white defendants in the laypeople study. The false positive rate for COMPAS was 40.4 percent for black defendants and 25.4 percent for white defendants.

Similarly, the false negative rate for black defendants was 29.2 percent compared with 40.3 percent for white defendants in the laypeople study. The false negative rate for COMPAS was 30.9 percent for black defendants and 47.9 percent for white defendants.

The study was repeated with a second group of 400 participants, only this time the defendants’ race was included. The accuracy rate was not significantly different than in the first group.

The new study was conducted by Dartmouth computer science professor Hany Farid with student Julia Dressel.

“The entire use of recidivism prediction instruments in courtrooms should be called into question,” Dressel said in the press release. “Along with previous work on the fairness of criminal justice algorithms, these combined results cast significant doubt on the entire effort of predicting recidivism.”



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Cartoon Poll: Make a wish upon your favorite genie caption

Posted by on Jan 17, 2018 in Elder Care | Comments Off on Cartoon Poll: Make a wish upon your favorite genie caption

Cartoon Caption Contest

Poll: Make a wish upon your favorite genie caption

We’ve got three genie-themed captions, but our wish is for your help in determining the winner for this month’s cartoon contest. We sifted through more than 100 entries and narrowed it down to these top picks. Now, it’s time to rub the magic lamp and vote for the winner. The caption that receives the most votes will appear in an upcoming issue of the magazine.

Vote in the cartoon poll for one of the captions listed below:

• “Sorry! I don’t grant wishes to convicts who rub me the wrong way.” —Submitted by Bruce Rand of Woodstock, Georgia

• “It looks like we have both been locked up for some time now.” —Submitted by Frank M. Kocs of Paso Robles, California

• “Better wish my retainer gets paid if you really want the evidence to magically disappear.” —Submitted by Douglas Jeffrey of Miami

How to vote: Using our poll, select the caption you think best fits the scene depicted in the cartoon.

Voting period: The poll closes at 11:59 p.m. CT on Sunday, Jan. 28.

What’s the prize? Bragging rights. Plus, the winning caption and credit to the caption writer will appear in an upcoming issue of the ABA Journal.

For complete rules, follow this link. To view past cartoons, check out this gallery or follow the Cartoon Caption Contest RSS feed.



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22 attorneys general file petition to block FCC decision repealing net neutrality

Posted by on Jan 17, 2018 in Elder Care | Comments Off on 22 attorneys general file petition to block FCC decision repealing net neutrality

Internet Law

Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia have taken the first step in a bid to block the repeal of net neutrality rules.

The 22 jurisdictions filed a petition for review on Tuesday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, according to a press release from New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

The petition argues the Federal Communications Commission decision to eliminate net neutrality was arbitrary and capricious, in conflict with notice and rule-making requirements, and unconstitutional.

Schneiderman contends that the FCC failed to justify its departure from policy defending net neutrality, and its decision improperly pre-empted state and local laws.

The jurisdictions that joined to file the petition are New York, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.



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Amish family ordered by state appellate court to use electric sewer pump

Posted by on Jan 17, 2018 in Elder Care | Comments Off on Amish family ordered by state appellate court to use electric sewer pump

Religious Law

Amish

An Old Order Amish family rides in an open wagon in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. George Sheldon / Shutterstock.com

A split three-judge panel representing a Pennsylvania appellate court has ordered an Old Order Amish family, whose religious beliefs frown upon the use of electricity, to connect to a municipal sewer through an electric grinder pump.

The Legal Intelligencer, PennLive and York Daily Record had the story.

Sugar Grove Township’s Mandatory Connection Ordinance requires any property owner whose property abuts the Sugar Grove Area Sewer Authority sewer system to connect their properties to the town’s sewage system. The court affirmed the trial court’s decision that electric service was the least intrusive means of sewer connection. This has been problematic for Amish families, as they avoid the use of electricity because of their religious beliefs.

Plaintiffs Joseph and Barbara Yoder have continuously refused to comply with Sugar Grove Township’s Mandatory Connection Ordinance, citing religious freedom.In fact, this is the third related sewer-connection action involving the Yoders in the past five years.

The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania issued its decision Jan. 5. The majority opinion, written by Judge Robert Simpson, contended that the electric pump is the least intrusive means of connecting to the sewage system because it is the only feasible one. Simpson also pointed out that the Yoders have used electrical appliances before such as telephones and were not shunned by the Amish community.

Senior Judge Dan Pellegrini joined Simpson’s ruling. Judge Patricia A. McCullough, on the other hand, did not. Her dissenting opinion asserted that Sugar Grove Township neglected other sanitary ways of disposing sewage that would not require connecting to the sewer system via electricity and would thus preserve the Yoders’ religious freedom.

The unpublished opinion does not establish a legal precedent for future cases in Pennsylvania involving Amish families and public utilities.



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Is sweet spot for avoiding academic attrition at law schools a median LSAT of at least 150?

Posted by on Jan 17, 2018 in Elder Care | Comments Off on Is sweet spot for avoiding academic attrition at law schools a median LSAT of at least 150?

Law Schools

LSAT

Among ABA-accredited law schools with median LSAT scores above 150, academic attrition has recently decreased. But there’s been an increase at schools with median LSAT scores below 150, Jerry Organ writes at TaxProf Blog.

Organ, a professor at the University of St. Thomas School of Law in Minneapolis who frequently uses data in his academic writing, relied on Standard 509 Information Report data for his findings. At law schools where the median LSAT score is above 160, he found that academic attrition was 0.3 percent for the 2014-2015 school year, and 0.2 percent for the 2015-2016 school year.

He notes that for 2016-2017 school year, which is reflected in the most recent 509 reports, the ABA reported nontransfer attrition numbers in the same category. Previously, “academic attrition,” which describes when a law school asks someone to leave because of his or her academic performance, and “other attrition,” the category for students who weren’t at risk academically and left on their own, were reported separately.

Overall, nontransfer attrition averages at ABA-accredited law schools have increased each year, until the 2016-2017 academic years, according to Organ, and this year marked the first nontransfer decline in the last several years.

“Notably, one significant contributor to the decline in nontransfer attrition in 2016-17 was the exclusion of [Charlotte School of Law] from the calculations given its closure. (For example, had Charlotte not been included in the 2015-16 nontransfer attrition calculations, the overall nontransfer attrition rate for 2015-16 would have been 6.96 percent rather than 7.33 percent),” he wrote. “That said, even taking into account the ‘Charlotte’ factor, 2016-17 still shows the first decline in overall nontransfer attrition in the last several years.”

At law schools with median LSAT scores between 155 to 159, the average academic attrition rate for the 2014-2015 school year was 2.0 percent. For the 2015-2016 school year, it was 1.8 percent.

For law schools with median LSAT scores between 150 to 154, academic attrition for the 2014-2015 school year averaged out to 4.7 percent, and 4.6 percent for the 2015-2016 school year.

At law schools with median LSAT scores below 150 but above 145, academic attrition went from 12.7 percent for the 2014-2015 school year to 14.3 percent for the 2015-2016 school year.

And among law schools where the median LSAT score was 145 or lower, the average academic attrition rate for the 2015-2016 school year was 25.3 percent. Comparatively, the average academic attrition rate 2014-2015 school year at law schools within that 145-or-lower LSAT range was 15.6 percent.

Organ notes that for the 2010-2011 school year, only one ABA-accredited law school had a median LSAT score of 145 or less. By the 2014-2015 school year, there were 12, and the 2015-2016 school year had 10.

Regarding overall attrition for first-year law students, Organ found that for the average attrition rate or the 2014-2015 school year was 7.04 percent. For the 2016-2017 school year, it was 6.46 percent.



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Justice Department will ask Supreme Court for direct review of judge’s DACA injunction

Posted by on Jan 17, 2018 in Elder Care | Comments Off on Justice Department will ask Supreme Court for direct review of judge’s DACA injunction

Attorney General

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The U.S. Justice Department announced that it intends to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to grant direct review on the merits of a judge’s injunction that bars the Trump administration from phasing out a program protecting immigrants brought to the country illegally as minors.

The department said in a press release that it intends to take the “rare step” of seeking Supreme Court review even as it filed a notice of appeal in the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday, report the Washington Post, Politico, BuzzFeed News and the Recorder.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in the release that “it defies both law and common sense” for the immigration policy “to somehow be mandated nationwide by a single district court in San Francisco.”

U.S. District Judge William Alsup’s Jan. 9 nationwide injunction applies during litigation challenging the decision to wind down the 2012 program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.

Trump criticized Alsup’s decision on Twitter after the ruling. “It just shows everyone how broken and unfair our court system is when the opposing side in a case (such as DACA) always runs to the 9th Circuit and almost always wins before being reversed by higher courts.”

The New York Times spoke with experts who said the Supreme Court might address nationwide injunctions this year. “The justices don’t like the districts courts changing national policy overnight,” said Josh Blackman, a professor at South Texas College of Law.

Experts who oppose such injunctions say judges are imposing them in cases involving regional issues, giving ammunition to critics who say the judiciary is overreaching.



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Sessions authorizes federal prosecutors to seek death sentences in two murder cases

Posted by on Jan 13, 2018 in Elder Care | Comments Off on Sessions authorizes federal prosecutors to seek death sentences in two murder cases

Attorney General

Sessions paper

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. mark reinstein / Shutterstock.com

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has authorized federal prosecutors to seek a death sentence for the second time in the last month. These are the first such instances since Sessions took office last year.

The Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post had the story.

On Jan. 8, federal prosecutors acquired Sessions’ approval to seek the death penalty against Billy Arnold, who is charged with murdering two individuals who were part of a rival gang in Detroit.

Prosecutors in Orlando, Florida, also received authorization to pursue capital punishment against Jarvis Wayne Madison on Dec. 19. Madison has been accused of shooting his estranged wife in 2016 after kidnapping her across state lines. In their court filing stating that the death penalty was justified in Madison’s case, prosecutors said that Madison had a “pattern of domestic abuse, including physical and emotional abuse, against women,” the Post reported.

Moreover, the Justice Department is considering seeking a death sentence for Sayfullo Saipov, who is charged with running over eight people in a Manhattan bike lane last Halloween, people familiar with the matter told the Wall Street Journal. President Donald Trump himself publicly announced his support for this on Twitter in early November after the incident occurred.

A senior Justice Department official told the Wall Street Journal that Sessions has dubbed the death penalty a “valuable tool in the tool belt” and plans to authorize the death penalty more often than the Obama administration. The death penalty was pursued in more than four dozen cases by the Obama administration, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing statistics from the Federal Death Penalty Resource Counsel.

Federal capital punishment was reinstated in 1988. Since then, only three executions have been carried out on the federal level, the last one in 2003.



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Ohio judge resigns after being accused of stealing cash from home of dead client

Posted by on Jan 13, 2018 in Elder Care | Comments Off on Ohio judge resigns after being accused of stealing cash from home of dead client

Judiciary

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An Ohio judge has resigned after she was accused of stealing at least $96,200 in cash from the home of a former client who died.

Judge Diane Vettori-Caraballo of Mahoning County was charged in federal court with mail fraud, structuring cash deposits and making false statements to law enforcement, report the Youngstown Vindicator, the Alliance Review and a Tuesday press release. The Vindicator says the judge’s last name is Vettori, though federal prosecutors refer to her as Vettori-Caraballo.

The Mahoning County court administrator said Vettori-Caraballo resigned via a voice mail on Tuesday. She was previously disqualified from acting as a judge as a result of the charges, according to the Legal Profession Blog.

The federal information alleges Vettori-Caraballo stole between $96,200 and $328,000 in cash from the home of the client, Dolores Falgiani, who died in March 2016. Vettori-Caraballo had prepared Falgiani’s will, and filed a petition to probate the estate.

Falgiani had previously stated she had several shoeboxes of cash at her home, the press release says. A handwritten note in her checkbook said she had more than $500,000 in cash and bonds at her home and in the bank, according to allegations in the information cited by the Vindicator.

Vettori-Caraballo told the court she found $20,000 cash, but did not report any additional money.

Federal prosecutors allege Vettori-Caraballo structured 22 deposits of $96,200 in cash into five different banks to avoid having to report the transactions. She allegedly told the FBI that she hadn’t “received a nickel” from the Falgiani estate and the deposits were from her husband’s retirement account.

The mail fraud charge is related to court documents failing to disclose the cash that had been sent through the mail.



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Suspended Rhode Island lawyer jailed for failing to pay sanction

Posted by on Jan 13, 2018 in Elder Care | Comments Off on Suspended Rhode Island lawyer jailed for failing to pay sanction

Legal Ethics

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Updated: A suspended Rhode Island lawyer was jailed on a civil contempt charge for failing to pay more than $11,000 of a sanction imposed for making misrepresentations to the court.

The “lawyer and provocateur,” Keven A. McKenna of Providence, was arrested on Tuesday, the Providence Journal reports. On Thursday afternoon, McKenna’s lawyer said a check from a family member of McKenna’s had failed to clear and he was expected to stay in jail for a third night.

Judge Netti Vogel said Thursday that she won’t let McKenna out of jail until he produces the money. On Friday, he paid the money, securing his release from jail, the Providence Journal reports.

The sanction, imposed in 2015, stemmed from accusations that McKenna—a former state representative and municipal court judge—had filed court actions in people’s names without their consent. He was ordered to pay $19,267 to a defendant in one of the cases as a sanction.

McKenna paid some of the money then filed for bankruptcy. The bankruptcy case was dismissed in December and McKenna failed to show up for a Jan. 3 hearing on the sanction.

McKenna has also filed eight lawsuits against the state supreme court and two dozen other defendants since 2009. The state says the filings are vexatious and seeks to ban him from filing new lawsuits against the state’s top court and its attorney general, the Journal reported in November.

McKenna’s license was suspended in 2015, partly for trying to disrupt and delay a workers’ compensation proceeding and failing to disclose income to the bankruptcy court. His license has not yet been reinstated.

Updated at 3:05 p.m. to report that McKenna has paid the money.



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UC Irvine’s Richardson is the only woman of color to serve as dean at a top 30 law school

Posted by on Jan 13, 2018 in Elder Care | Comments Off on UC Irvine’s Richardson is the only woman of color to serve as dean at a top 30 law school

Legal Education

Corrected: Legal scholar L. Song Richardson took over as dean of the University of California at Irvine School of Law on Jan. 1.

Richardson is currently the only woman of color to serve as a dean of a law school with a top 30 ranking in U.S. News & World Report, according to a press release. She replaces founding dean Erwin Chemerinsky, who left the school in May to become dean at University of California Berkeley School of Law.

Richardson, who was serving as interim dean, has been a faculty member at Irvine since 2014. She teaches and writes in the areas of criminal law, criminal procedure, and law and social science. According to the press release, she uses lessons from cognitive and social psychology to study criminal law and policing.

A September 2017 profile in Orange Coast magazine describes Richardson as one of the nation’s leading experts on racial bias and the criminal justice system. Her father is African-American and her mother is a Korean immigrant.

After her graduation from Yale Law School, Richardson was a Skadden Public Interest Fellow in immigration law. She has also worked as a public defender, a partner at a boutique criminal law firm, and a law professor at DePaul University, American University and the University of Iowa.

Richardson studied classical piano during her youth, and as an undergrad at Harvard she won the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra’s Concerto Competition. “After that, I decided it can’t get better than this, so I stopped,” she tells Orange Coast. She majored in psychology and graduated cum laude.

Richardson told the Recorder (sub. req.) that she hopes to work with the university “to continue to redefine, reinvent, and reimagine the future of legal education. We want to be where legal education is going, not where it’s been.”

She also commented to the Recorder about her position of as the only woman of color at a top law school.

“Through my life I have been inspired by other women and the incredible work they’ve done, and I hope with me in this position it will potentially inspire other women to dream big and work hard to achieve their dreams,” Richardson said.

Corrected at 8:15 p.m. to remove statement that Richardson made history in her appointment. She is currently the only woman of color serving as dean of a top 30 law school.



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