Actus Reus

ac·tus re·us \ˈak-təs-ˈrē-əs, ˈäk-tu̇s-ˈrā-u̇s\

noun : the wrongful act that makes up the physical action of a crime

Latin: guilty act

Director of Missouri’s State Public Defender System Assigns Case to Governor

In a letter to Governor Jay Nixon accessible here, Michael Barrett, Director of the Missouri State Public Defender, starts seven years ago, with Governor Nixon's veto of legislation which would have addressed caseload problems faced by public defenders in Missouri.   Barrett notes that Governor Nixon then acknowledged the "significant stresses" faced by public defenders and vowed to work toward remedying them. Seven years later, Barrett says that due to a continued lack of funding, he faces a … [Read more...]

Delaware Law School Criminal Defense Clinic wins release for client formerly sentenced to life in prison

Congratulations to the Delaware Law School Criminal Defense Clinic, which recently won a major victory on behalf of a juvenile client who was sentenced to life in prison without parole when he was 16 years old. After the United States Supreme Court decided Miller v. Alabama and Montgomery v. Louisiana, which collectively held that no child can be sentenced to mandatory life in prison without the possibility of parole, the Delaware Law School Criminal Defense Clinic handled the resentencing … [Read more...]

If the cops don’t take your client’s house, the court will

Thanks to Colorado attorney Gail Johnson for alerting us to the decision in United States v. Basurto. The Tenth Circuit affirms the imposition, in a federal drug case, of a $13,133.33 fine on Ms. Rachel Basurto, whose only source of income is her disability payments.  The Tenth Circuit agreed with the district court that Ms. Basurto could sell or mortgage her house, valued at $33,689, to pay the fine.  Particularly noteworthy (i.e. disgusting) is the discussion of how "hardship" should be … [Read more...]

Actus Reus goes live

A groundbreaking day for the University of Denver Criminal Defense Clinic - our new website, the brainchild of Professors Christopher Lasch and Robin Walker Sterling, and implemented by Clinical Fellow Rachel Moran, is finally ready to go live! … [Read more...]

The Joy of Public Defense

"Public defenders have the best job in the legal profession," Stephen Cooper (former D.C. and Alabama defender) writes here.  "The joy in public defense is found in the unshakeable belief that no matter a person’s alleged or actual crime, there is goodness inside each one of us, and that is always something worth fighting for."   … [Read more...]

Nicholas Kristof asks: “Is it a crime to be poor?”

In a Sunday Review piece in the New York Times here, Nicholas Kristof continues the discussion of debtors' prisons in the U.S. The article is the latest in a series of NYT pieces on debtors' prisons.  Here are a few others: March 2016 (editorial decrying "a modern system of debtors' prisons) March 2016 (reporting on a letter from the Justice Department calling for the end to "for-profit" court systems) March 2015 ("We have a two-tier system: The rich pay fines. The poor go to … [Read more...]