Nicole Flatow

Homeowner Who Shot Elderly Man With Alzheimer’s Won’t Be Charged

The Walker County, Ga., District Attorney said Friday he will not press charges against the homeowner who shot and killed an elderly man wandering on his property. 72-year-old Ronald Westbrook, who has Alzheimer’s disease, had been walking around the Chickamauga area, a rural neighborhood in north Georgia, when he walked onto Joe Hendrix’s property at around 2:30 a.m. Hendrix’s fiancée called 911 and a deputy was dispatched. But before he arrived, Hendrix took matters into his own hands, walking out the front door and firing three or four shots at Westbrook, one of which hit him in the chest.

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Oops! Maryland Police Chief Cites Fake News Story While Testifying Against Pot Legalization

Testifying against bills that would legalize or decriminalize marijuana, the police chief for Annapolis, Md., cited a fake news story that reported 37 people died on the first day Colorado’s recreational marijuana law went into effect.

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Jordan Davis’ Mother Says Killing Of Her Unarmed Teen Son Was Racial

The mother of the unarmed teen shot and killed by Michael Dunn after a dispute over loud music responded to the public comments of two jurors this week that race did not play a factor in their deliberations, saying the role of race “cannot be denied.”

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Georgia Bill Would Lead To Guns In Airports, Bars, Churches, Elementary Schools, And Libraries

The Georgia House passed a bill Tuesday to allow guns in places of worship, bars, government buildings without security checkpoints, and even eliminate criminal charges for those who accidentally bring their guns to the airport or other secured buildings where guns are prohibited. The bill, a smorgasbord of new gun rights expansions that safety advocates say may amount to the most aggressive bill yet, also expands gun rights in both public K-12 schools and colleges, and even broadens the state’s expansive Stand Your Ground law.

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Florida Man Hops Fence to Shoot and Kill 21-year-old in a Hoodie - Then Claims Self Defense

On Thursday, an Orlando man shot and killed a 21-year-old who was fleeing his yard. He didn’t appear to be stealing anything, according to witness accounts. He didn’t appear to be threatening anybody. But Claudius Smith said he feared he was a burglar, followed him over the fence to a neighboring apartment complex, where he shot him after he said he felt threatened, according to a confession documented in an Orlando Police Department report. Smith even said he feared victim Ricardo Sanes was armed “because his pants were falling down” and his hands were in his hoodie pockets, according to a report obtained by the Orlando Sentinel.

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New Hampshire House Becomes First Legislative Body to Pass Bill Legalizing Recreational Pot

The New Hampshire House became the first legislative body Wednesday to pass a billlegalizing recreational marijuana. The bill is modeled on the laws passed by ballot initiative in Washington and Colorado, and would legalize up to an ounce of possession, tax and regulate distribution, and allow individuals to grow up to six plants.

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DOJ To Schools: Stop Sending Kids To Jail For Breaking Discipline Rules

The Department of Justice issued new guidance Wednesday aimed at curbing harsh, discriminatory over-punishment of school discipline violations. The materials disseminated with the Department of Education aim to increase legal compliance after DOJ filed several lawsuits against cities that dole out criminal punishment to students for violations as minor as dress code violations.

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6 Things You Should Know About Buying Pot In Colorado

January 1 marked a high point for Colorado’s Amendment 64 — the first day recreational marijuana businesses can legally operate in the state. A little more than a year after Colorado passed its ballot initiative to legalize recreational marijuana, individuals can for the first time sell, produce, and purchase marijuana legally, even without a doctor’s prescription. But to both those eager to light up and those fearful of the consequences, it is worth remembering that there remain more restrictions on the marijuana industry than there are allowances, which proponents hope will better control the health and safety of the industry. With Colorado’s law, federal law, and local law all affecting regulation, here are some key facts about Wednesday’s roll-out:

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10 Most Appalling Failures of the American Justice System This Year

Every year, stories emerge that serve as a reminder that the American system of justice means injustice for too many, with some receiving little or no punishment for egregious offenses, while others receive harsh or faulty punishment for much less. Here are some of the worst injustices of 2013:

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5 People Obama Could Pardon in Addition to the Turkey

A year ago this time, when President Obama issued presidential mercy to one lucky turkey, he hadn’t exercised this presidential pardon a single time that year to spare a human being facing prison.

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Cop Admits He Ordered Mentally Ill Black Man To Sing, Make Animal Noises

A suburban Detroit police officer admitted he asked a mentally ill black man to sing and dance and video recorded the incident.

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16-Year-Old Jailed at Rikers for 3 Years Without Trial

A teen who spent three years in a notorious New York jail without ever having been convicted or put on trial is coming forward after filing a lawsuit against New York City. In June, charges against Kalief Browder were mysteriously dropped and he was released, as first reported by WABC-TV.

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Police Kill 19-Year-Old Iowan Who Drove Off In Parents’ Truck

Police shot dead a 19-year-old who drove off in his father’s truck Monday, after a dispute with his father over a pack of cigarettes.

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Aggressive California U.S. Attorney Plans to Keep Prosecuting Marijuana Cases

In the past few years, as some medical marijuana business people have been made into criminals in states with their own laws, no state has been more center stage than California.

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5 People Serving Insanely Draconian Drug Sentences Thanks To Mandatory Minimum Laws

In a significant shift of law enforcement priorities, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holderannounced Monday that he would order all federal prosecutors to avert charges that carry harsh mandatory minimum prison sentences for low-level drug offenders. “It’s clear – as we come together today – that too many Americans go to too many prisons for far too long, and for no truly good law enforcement reason,” he said at the American Bar Association’s annual meeting in San Francisco. Holder’s announcement will spare some drug defendants overly punitive mandatory minimum prison sentenceswith no opportunity for early release, and signifies public rejection of over-incarceration. But it will take an act of Congress and more state reforms to end the system that has filled our jails with people like these:

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5 Shocking Stories of Police Taking Cash, Cars, Even Infants from People Never Accused of a Crime

As law enforcement officers continue to ramp up use of a controversial practice known as civil forfeiture, police are seizing cash, cars, houses, and other assets in the name of drug enforcement without ever having arrested or charged their owners with a crime. Funds collected from these seizures frequently go directly back into law enforcement, creating a dangerous profit incentive for police and other law enforcers. Both the New Yorker and ProPublica have new investigations of this practice, in which officers seize property they believe is connected to drug or other illicit activity, with a much lower burden of proof than when charges are filed against a person. Below are five of the most egregious incidents to emerge from these reports.

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Reading Rainbow Host Levar Burton Explains What He Does to Avoid Getting Shot by Cops

Even an African American famous for promoting child literacy fears mistreatment by the cops because he is black. In a discussion on CNN’s Erin Burnett OutFront on use of the “N Word” in America, former Reading Rainbow host Levar Burton explains his protocol for handling a police stop to avoid violence:

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Florida Man Shoots Wife's Lover Dead, Jury Acquits Citing Stand Your Ground

As trial approaches for the man who generated national controversy over Stand Your Ground laws when he shot dead 17-year-old Trayvon Martin on a Florida street, a jury has acquitted another man under Florida’s controversial law, after he shot dead a man he caught having sex with his wife.

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6 Ways Colorado Will Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol

Colorado took a major step toward implementing a legal system for dispensing recreational marijuana, as Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) signed into law on Tuesday several pieces of legislation on the licensing, cultivation, and taxing of marijuana. The ballot initiative to legalize and regulate marijuana passed by voters last November immediately eliminated criminal punishment for possession by those 21-and-over of less than an ounce of pot and for growing up to six plants. But a legal system for dispensing cannabis will not take effect until producers and dispensaries can be licensed. And although Hickenlooper opposed the ballot initiative, his signature signals his willingness to implement the will of the voters. The laws passed Tuesday set up a state licensing authority that will set more specific rules for the marijuana industry, and enable the law to fulfill its stated purpose of regulating and taxing marijuana like alcohol to minimize criminal activity while protecting public health. Here are six of the ways it achieves that:

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40 Years in Jail for Landlords Renting to Legal Pot Dispensaries?!

In several West Coast cities, federal officials are initiating a new round of crackdowns against dispensaries that are seemingly complying with state medical marijuana law. In Seattle, 11 dispensaries received shutdown warnings. In San Francisco, almost half of the city’s small number of state-licensed dispensaries received similar warnings. And in neighboring cities like San Jose, several others were warned.

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How Big Pharma Is Bringing Forced Drug Tests To a State Near You

In the Nation, Isabel Macdonald has an excellent long read on the history of U.S. drug testing, beginning with a government program to test returning Vietnam War veterans and the drug-testing provisions in President Ronald Reagan’s Drug Free Workplace Act as part of the misdirected War on Drugs. Even then, the medical community dismissed the Act’s provisions requiring all federal grantees to test employees as “chemical McCarthyism,” as well as unscientific and discriminatory, since it was more likely to capture days-old marijuana use than frequent consumption of cocaine or alcohol. But the movement nonetheless grew from an anti-drug campaign into an industry with its own trade association, after several moneyed interests like Hoffman-La Roche, the maker of Valium and sleeping pills, got into the business:

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Feds To Investigate Cleveland Police After 137 Shots Fired In 59-Car Chase

On November 30, 2012, what began as a routine police drug patrol in Cleveland, Ohio ended in an unauthorized 59-car police chase in which 137 shots were fired and two unarmed individuals were left dead. The department-wide malfunction has prompted an investigation by the Department of Justice into the city police department’s use of excessive force and the “the adequacy of CPD’s training, supervision, and accountability mechanisms.”

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Physicist: If All Science Were Run Like Marijuana Research, Creationists Would Control Paleontology

In the face of obstacles to marijuana research from both the Drug Enforcement Administration and the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a theoretical physicist at the California Institute of Technology and one-time MacArthur Fellow is calling out the federal government on its obstruction of science.

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