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Legal Commentary - Elaine Cassel Archive





Elaine Cassel is an attorney, freelance writer, and professor of law at Concord University School of Law, where she teaches administrative law and health law courses in the LLM program in Health Law. She also teaches graduate courses in law and psychology at Marymount University. She practices law in Virginia and the District of Columbia. She graduated from George Washington University Law School and has graduate degrees in English Literature and psychology. She has authored a textbook in criminal psychology (Criminal Behavior, Allyn & Bacon, 2001), and writes frequently in areas related to psychology and the law. Her research and writing interests include the psychology of false confessions, repressed memory, and the fallibility of eyewitness testimony, as well as the treatment of juveniles and the mentally ill in the criminal justice system. She is the Chair of the American Bar Association's Behavioral Sciences Committee of the Science and Technology Law Section and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

 Columns by Elaine Cassel    

The First Amendment: Guardian of All Freedoms: A Review of Anthony Lewis's Freedom for the Thought That We Hate: A Biography of the First Amendment
FindLaw book reviewer, attorney, and author Elaine Cassel weighs in on journalist Anthony Lewis's new work on the First Amendment. As Cassel explains, while Lewis is a strong believer in First Amendment rights, he also discusses certain scenarios in which he believes the First Amendment does not apply, or applies but only in a limited way. Moreover, Lewis covers not just First Amendment law, but also the Amendment's "life" -- consisting of the stories of litigants and judges who invoked it.
Friday, Feb. 29, 2008

Jose Padilla's Suit Against John Yoo: An Interesting Idea, But Will It Get Far?
FindLaw guest columnist, attorney, and author Elaine Cassel discusses a Yale Law School clinic's decision to represent American citizen Jose Padilla, previously designated an "enemy combatant" by the Bush Administration, in a civil suit against former Administration attorney John Yoo. Yoo allegedly recommended Padilla for "enemy combatant" status, and wrote memoranda arguing in favor of the legality of the use of torture. Cassel details the facts of Padilla's case -- including his three-and-a-half year detention without charge, and the Administration's decision to drop the claim that Padilla was involved in a "dirty bomb" conspiracy, bringing instead another terrorism conspiracy charge, of which Padilla was convicted. She also explains why the Yale Law School clinic's suit, while it may bring needed publicity to credible allegations that Padilla was tortured, is unlikely to succeed as a legal matter in light of Yoo's ability to assert official immunity.
Monday, Jan. 14, 2008

Our Busted Government and How to Fix It: A Review of John Dean's Broken Government: How Republican Rule Destroyed the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Branches
FindLaw book reviewer and attorney Elaine Cassel reviews the most recent book by FindLaw columnist and former counsel to the president John Dean, Broken Government: How Republican Rule Destroyed the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Branches. Dean's book, as Cassel explains, discusses, for example, the role of the Vice President and his attorneys; the confirmations of Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito; and the Bush White House's use of signing statements and preference for secrecy across a number of areas.
Friday, Oct. 05, 2007

The Verdict in the Jose Padilla Case: The Jury Found Him Guilty, But Questions Remain
FindLaw guest columnist, attorney, and author Elaine Cassel argues that the guilty verdict in the Jose Padilla case should be far from the end of the inquiry into the issues Padilla's case raised. Padilla, once labeled a "dirty bomb" conspirator by then-Attorney General Ashcroft, was tried and convicted recently in Miami federal court on charges that made no mention of a "dirty bomb." Cassel contends that among the questions that remain to be answered are those concerning the treatment Padilla received during his three-and-a-half-year-long detention as an "enemy combatant"; why apparent government misconduct regarding the case did not result in sanctions; and whether Congress should reign in the Executive's ability to broadly assert the "state secrets" privilege.
Monday, Aug. 27, 2007

Chief Justice Roberts's Health, After His Recent Seizure: What We Know, What We Don't Know, and What We May Never Know
FindLaw guest columnist, attorney, and author Elaine Cassel discusses Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts's recent seizure and its implications. In connection with this recent seizure, the public also learned for the first time of a prior seizure Roberts had suffered -- one that preceded both his confirmation for a federal appeals court position and his current position as Chief Justice. Cassel contends that while Roberts's possible epilepsy, suggested by his now having had two seizures is unlikely to affect his ability to function effectively on the Court, the public should, in generally be legally entitled to be informed about the medical condition of both Supreme Court nominees and sitting Justices.
Thursday, Aug. 02, 2007

The Tragedy at Virginia Tech: Cho Seung Hui and the Psychology of School Shooters
FindLaw guest columnist, attorney, and expert on psychology and the law Elaine Cassel discusses the psychology of Virginia Tech school shooter Cho Seung Hui in the context of the FBI school shooter profile and the information about Cho that has been made public so far. Categorizing Cho as a "pseudocommando killer," Cassel compares him to Columbine shooters Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris. She also considers possible ways to prevent future similar tragedies -- including gun control and improved counseling systems at universities.
Friday, Apr. 20, 2007

The Ruling on Jose Padilla's Competence to Stand Trial: The Judge May Have Been Right, But Legal and Moral Questions Persist
FindLaw columnist, attorney, and author Elaine Cassel discusses the recent finding by a federal district judge that Jose Padilla is mentally competent to stand trial. Padilla -- initially referred to by the government as a "dirty bomb" conspiracy suspect -- was held in solitary confinement for years as an "enemy combatant," without access to any attorney. He says he was also tortured during his confinement. Now, Padilla has been indicted -- but on different charges. Cassel covers the history and possible future of the case; explains the standards for a competence determination; gives examples of the types of defendants who are found incompetent; and discusses why most judges would have ruled, as the judge did here, that Padilla is mentally competent to stand trial.
Monday, Mar. 05, 2007

The Cases of Lynne Stewart, Clive Stafford Smith, and Navy JAG Lawyer Charles Swift: Government Retaliation Against Attorneys for Terrorism Suspects
FindLaw guest columnist, attorney, and author Elaine Cassel argues that the Bush Administration has entered a dangerous area -- by going after not only terror suspects, but also their attorneys. Cassel argues that while attorney Lynne Stewart properly faced sanctions for helping her client -- the Sheikh convicted in connection with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing -- pass messages to his followers, the sanctions the government sought were far too harsh, and the repeated 9/11 references at trial were unfairly prejudicial. Cassel also discusses the situations of Clive Stafford Smith, the lawyer for a Guantanamo detainee whom it seems the government may prosecute for three other detainees' suicides, and Charles Swift, the Navy JAG lawyer who insisted on zealously representing Salim Hamdan, and was punished by being denied promotion.
Thursday, Oct. 19, 2006

The Demise of Conservatism, and The Rise of Authoritarianism: A Review of John Dean's Conservatives Without Conscience
FindLaw book reviewer, attorney, and author Elaine Cassel reviews Conservatives without Conscience, the most recent book by John Dean -- former counsel to President Nixon, and a FindLaw columnist. In the book, Dean argues that conservatism today is a far cry from that of his youth, when Barry Goldwater was his ideological mentor and conservatism connoted a belief in limited government and staying out of people's private lives. As Cassel describes Dean faults today's conservatives -- from both the neoconservative and social conservative movements, and including the current Administration -- for adopting intrusive and paternalistic views far afield from the views of traditional American conservatism.
Friday, Sep. 01, 2006

Should the U.S. Enact British-Type Laws To Fight Terrorism? Only If We Adopt the Protections of Civil Liberties Those Laws Include
FindLaw guest columnist, attorney, and author Elaine Cassel examines what it would mean if American "war on terror" laws were to more closely mirror their British equivalents -- as the Bush Administration has suggested they perhaps should. Cassel focuses on British laws on detention and surveillance and argues that they are laudable in that they provide for a clear role for judicial review -- something the Bush Administration has resisted when it comes to U.S. law. Cassel argues that mirroring British laws could be a good idea -- but only if the mirroring is complete, so that both powers and protections of rights are imported into U.S. law.
Monday, Aug. 21, 2006

The Second Andrea Yates Verdict: Why This Time, the Jury Did the Right Thing
FindLaw guest columnist, attorney, and author Elaine Cassel discusses the recent verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity in the section trial of Andrea Yates, the Texas woman who killed her five children. Cassel explains the limits on the insanity defense in Texas, notes why the verdict in the first trial was overturned on appeal, and argues that the jury was right to reach this conclusion about the very mentally ill Yates. Cassel also explains why, far from "getting away with murder" as critics claim, Yates will likely be kept for many years in a state institution.
Friday, Jul. 28, 2006

Executing the Mentally Ill and the Mentally Retarded:
Three Key Recent Cases from Texas and Virginia Show How States Can Evade the Supreme Court's Death Penalty Rulings

FindLaw guest columnist, attorney, and author Elaine Cassel discusses the current state of the law -- in theory and in practice -- when it comes to the constitutionality of executing the mentally ill or mentally retarded. Focusing on three recent cases from the key death-penalty states of Texas and Virginia, Cassel argues that the ideal represented by Supreme Court decisions in this area -- that the truly mentally ill, and those with very low cognitive capacity shall not be executed -- is being betrayed. In particular, she notes several features of death-penalty sentencing processes that make it difficult to prove that genuinely mentally impaired defendants fall within the coverage of the Court's decisions.
Thursday, Jun. 22, 2006

Defending The Zacarias Moussaoui Sentence: Why the Phase One and Phase Two Verdicts Were Consistent, And Why the Sentence Was the Right One
FindLaw guest columnist, attorney, and author Elaine Cassel defends the jury's decision to impose a life sentence -- and the specific way it filled out the verdict form -- in the Zacarias Moussaoui case. Cassel contends that commentators who claim the jury must have been confused, haven't considered all the possible ways to see the jury's verdict form answers, nor have they considered all the reasons the jury might have wanted to make sure the sentencing moved through the second, testimony phase.
Monday, May. 08, 2006

Politics and Law, Courts and Congress: Reviews of Two Recent Books on the Relationship Between Two Oft-Clashing American Traditions and Institutions
FindLaw book reviewer, attorney, and author Elaine Cassel reviews two recent books -- Michael C. Dorf's No Litmus Test and Charles Gardner Geyh's When Courts & Congress Collide -- that address two difficult interrelationships, between politics and law and the legislative and judicial branches, respectively. Cassel contrast the books' respective approaches, finding both useful and enlightening -- and the two complementary.
Friday, May. 05, 2006

The First Zacarias Moussaoui Sentencing Verdict:
Eligible for Death Based on His Own Contradictory, Uncorroborated Testimony

FindLaw guest columnist, attorney, and author Elaine Cassel discusses the verdict in the first phase of the sentencing proceedings of Zacarias Moussaoui -- the al Qaeda member who pled guilty to conspiracy. Cassel notes the significance of a recent, startling turn of events: Moussaoui, on the stand, claimed that he and "shoe bomber" Richard Reid were to have flown a plane into the White House, as part of a plan that culminated in the September 11 attacks. (Previously, the government had argued that Moussaoui's connection to the case lay in his ability to have prevented the attacks, had he spoken truthfully to the government.) Cassel argues that other evidence in the case provides strong reason to disbelieve Moussaoui's last-minute claims.
Wednesday, Apr. 05, 2006

The Battle over Abortion and Contraception, Part Two: How It's Playing Out in the Bush Administration
In the second of a two-part series of columns, FindLaw guest columnist, attorney and author Elaine Cassel continues her discussion of current legal and political battles over abortion and contraception. In this column, Cassel focuses on developments at the FDA, which has stalled in approving over-the-counter use of the emergency contraceptive "Plan ," and at the CDC, which has included a "Focus on the Family" leader in its advisory panel regarding the development of a vaccine that would prevent women from contracting HPV, the cause of the majority of cervical cancer cases. She argues that stopping these kinds of developments based on religious objections, is not only wrong, but irrational; for instance, the HPV vaccine would prevents thousands of deaths from cervical cancer each year.
Monday, Mar. 20, 2006

The Battle over Abortion and Contraception, Part One: How It's Playing Out in the States and in the Supreme Court
In the first of a two-part series of columns, FindLaw guest columnist, attorney and author Elaine Cassel discusses current legal and political battles over abortion and contraception. Cassel canvasses the situation both in the states and in the Supreme Court -- and focuses on the pivotal role of Justice Kennedy, as well as an argument that may help to persuade him to vote to strike down certain state laws as unconstitutional.
Tuesday, Mar. 14, 2006

The Sentencing of Zacarias Moussaoui: Questions of Fact and Issues as to Defendant's Competency Cloud Proceedings
FindLaw guest columnist, attorney, and author Elaine Cassel discusses the final phase in the criminal case of Zacarias Moussaoui: sentencing. As Cassel explains, Moussaoui, once deemed the would-be "twentieth hijacker" of 9/11 by the government, pled guilty under a different theory -- as reflected in the government's statement of facts. Now, the death penalty is on the table -- but, Cassel argues, Moussaoui's mental competency continues to be in doubt.
Thursday, Feb. 16, 2006

The Congressional Research Service and Constitutional Law Scholars Weigh in on President Bush's Authorization of Warrantless Surveillance: Why This Controversy Bridges the Partisan Divide, At Least Among Experts
FindLaw columnist, attorney and author Elaine Cassel argues that the issue of President Bush's authorization of warrantless wiretapping ought to transcend partisanship. Cassel analyzes the recent report by the non-partisan Congressional Research Service, and the recent letter addressing the Administration's legal defenses by a number of prominent legal experts, and suggests what we can hope Congressional hearings will cover.
Thursday, Jan. 12, 2006

The Shocking Trial of American Citizen Ahmed Abu Ali: Statements Procured Under Duress in a Saudi Prison Are Now Being Used by U.S. Prosecutors in a U.S. Court
FindLaw guest columnist, attorney, and author Elaine Cassel focuses on a recent, high-stakes evidentiary hearing in a "war on terrorism" case. The case involves U.S. citizen Ahmed Abu Ali, whose harsh, lengthy interrogation abroad by Saudi authorities turned into a joint interrogation in which American FBI agents became involved -- drafting and presenting their own questions. Despite the fact that Abu Ali's constitutional rights were not honored, a Virginia federal judge held that his confessions can still be evidence in a U.S. court. Cassel takes strong issue with this determination.
Monday, Nov. 07, 2005

If Judge John Roberts Takes Sandra Day O'Connor's Seat, How Will the Supreme Court's Death Penalty Jurisprudence Change?
FindLaw guest columnist, attorney, and author Elaine Cassel discusses an interesting question: What would John Roberts's confirmation mean for the Supreme Court's death penalty jurisprudence? Cassel argues, based on a memorandum written when Roberts was working for the Reagan Administration and an opinion he authored as a D.C. Circuit judge, that Roberts is likely to be significantly more conservative on death penalty issues than his predecessor, Sandra Day O'Connor, and closer in his views to the Justice for whom he clerked, William Rehnquist.
Tuesday, Au. 16, 2005

The Terri Schiavo Case: The Autopsy Report Vindicates Michael Schiavo, But Governor Jeb Bush Re-Investigates Him Anyway
FindLaw columnist, attorney, and author Elaine Cassel comments on the Terri Schiavo autopsy report, and explains why the case is, in a sense, far from over: Florida Governor Jeb Bush has directed the Florida Attorney General to investigate Michael Schiavo, based on allegations that he may have delayed calling 911 when she initially collapsed, over a dozen years ago. Cassel calls for a stop to the investigation, arguing that courts have roundly rejected earlier, similar claims of misbehavior by Schiavo, and pointing out that the autopsy report supports the contentions he has made about Terri's condition.
Thursday, Jun. 23, 2005

Conservatism, Religion and the Bush Administration:
A Review of Two Recent Books on the White House, the Law, and The Influence of Christian Fundamentalists

FindLaw book reviewer, attorney, and author Elaine Cassel weighs in on two recent books examining outside influences on the Bush Administration's first term. The first is Charles Tiefer's Veering Right: How the Bush Administration Subverts the Law for Conservative Causes, in which the law professor and former legislative counsel delves into religious, corporate, and legislative influences on the Administration. The second is Esther Kaplan's With God On Their Side: How Christian Fundamentalists Trampled Science, Policy, and Democracy in George W. Bush's White House -- in which the journalist discusses the Administration's increasing emphasis on religious faith, and the influence of religious groups on the Administration.
Friday, May. 20, 2005

The Terri Schiavo Case: Congress Rushes In Where Only Courts Should Tread
FindLaw guest columnist, attorney, and author Elaine Cassel comments on the controversial Terri Schiavo case. Cassel argues that Congress should not have intervened in the twelve-year-long series of state and federal court proceedings in the case. Cassel points out that not only had a Florida court ruled that Schiavo's feeding tube should be removed, but the U.S. Supreme Court, in the Cruzan case, has also made clear the legal status of "persistent vegetative state" patients like Schiavo. In light of these rulings, Cassel argues that Congress' law betrays principles of federalism and separation of powers.
Thursday, Mar. 24, 2005

The Strange Case of Ahmed Omar Abu Ali:
Troubling Questions about the Government's Motives and Tactics

FindLaw guest columnist, attorney, and author Elaine Cassel comments on the latest prosecution of a U.S. citizen claimed to have connections to terrorism. The U.S. citizen is Virginian Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, and the evidence supporting the prosecution, as Cassel explains, consists of a confession Abu Ali allegedly gave while in Saudi prison -- apparently at the behest of the United States. Cassel notes that Abu Ali likely faced torture and coercive, inhuman conditions that may well have led him to falsely confess, and argues that the government's positions on bail, and on the use of secret evidence that is not shared even with Abu Ali's defense attorneys, are also troubling.
Monday, Mar. 07, 2005

The Lynne Stewart Guilty Verdict: Stretching the Definition of "Terrorism" To Its Limits
FindLaw guest columnist, attorney, and author Elaine Cassel discusses the recent guilty verdict in the trial of New York attorney Lynne Stewart for providing support to terrorism. As Cassel explains, the evidence in the trial was the result of government eavesdropping on Stewart's conversations with her client, and the "support" Stewart provided consistent mainly of aiding her imprisoned client -- terrorist conspirator Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman -- in putting out a news release, and sending letters. Cassel argues that the prosecution and verdict are troubling for several reasons -- and may deter defense lawyers from representing even detainees who are not charged and defendants awaiting trial, because the eavesdropping regulations allow surveillance of those attorney-client conversations, too.
Monday, Feb. 14, 2005

Did Zoloft Make Him Do It?
Defense Attorneys for a South Carolina Boy Who Killed His Grandparents Argue that He Committed Manslaughter, Not Murder

FindLaw guest columnist, attorney, and author Elaine Cassel comments on a the trial of a South Carolina boy who, at twelve, killed his grandparents. At the time, the boy, who suffered from depression, was taking Zoloft, and his defense attorneys contend that its side effects, for him, included hearing voices that told him to kill, and that its presence in his system rendered him "involuntarily intoxicated." Can this argument succeed? Cassel evaluates the evidence on Zoloft, and the boy's chances in court.
Thursday, Feb. 03, 2005

What An ACLU Suit Challenging An Important Section of the USA Patriot Act Tells Us About Surveillance and Secrecy
FindLaw columnist, attorney, and author Elaine Cassel discusses a suit filed by the ACLU and a John Doe Internet Service Provider (ISP) against Attorney General Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert Mueller. The suit challenges a key section of the USA Patriot Act as being contrary to the First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution. In addition, as Cassel explains, sealing orders and gag orders relating to the case raise their own important First Amendment issues.
Wednesday, Jun. 09, 2004

Brown v. Board of Education as Social and Political History:
A Review of Michael Klarman's From Jim Crow to Civil Rights

FindLaw book reviewer, attorney and author Elaine Cassel reviews a recent book by University of Virginia law and history professor Michael Klarman that offers a new, interesting take on Brown v. Board of Education. As Cassel explains, Klarman sees Brown as an instance of the Supreme Court's Justices' mirroring a growing moral feeling on the part of the public. Klarman also suggests that, more generally, the Court will often tend to mirror public moral sentiment. Cassel tests this contention on a number of different areas of constitutional law.
Friday, Jun. 04, 2004

A Reporter's Account of an Ex-Con's Struggle to Reenter Society:
A Review of Jennifer Gonnerman's Life on the Outside

FindLaw book reviewer, attorney, and author Elaine Cassel reviews a recent book by Village Voice reporter Jennifer Gonnerman, Life on the Outside: The Prison Odyssey of Elaine Bartlett. Cassel praises Gonnerman for affording insight into the problems that the many, many Americans who have been incarcerated -- often for first or minor offenses -- face when they return to society. As Cassel explains, Gonnerman focuses on the experience of a particular woman, Elaine Bartlett, who served sixteen years in New York prison for a first-offense drug carrier conviction.
Friday, Apr. 23, 2004

Is Playing Paintball and Firing Legal Guns Terrorism?
Three Disturbing Convictions Strongly Suggest Discrimination Against Muslim Americans

FindLaw columnist and attorney Elaine Cassel discusses the case of the "Alexandria 11" -- eleven men who were indicted by Virginia federal prosecutors for alleged violations of the Neutrality Acts. These longstanding, rarely-applied acts make it a crime for Americans to attack countries with which the United States is at peace. Yet rather than actually attack another country, these men instead played paintball and fired off guns in Virginia in support of a group seeking to oust India from Kashmir. Cassel argues that their prosecutions -- and the decision to file terrorism charges against those who declined to plead guilty -- were the result of discrimination based on the men's religion.
Thursday, Mar. 25, 2004

Prosecutor Misconduct In Two Recent High-Profile Cases:
Why It Happens, and How We Can Better Prevent It

FindLaw columnist, attorney, and author Elaine Cassel discusses prosecutorial misconduct in two recent, high profile federal cases -- one involving charges of kidnapping and murder, the other involving allegations of a Detroit Al Qaeda cell. As Cassel explains, in one case, prosecutors wrongfully sent excluded evidence to the jury; in another case, prosecutors wrongfully withheld evidence from the defense. Cassel explains the limits of the mechanisms currently in place for disciplining federal prosecutors, and suggests ways they could be expanded and improved.
Thursday, Feb. 12, 2004

The Strategy Behind Raising a Weak Insanity Defense in the Malvo Case
Why the Defense May Help Malvo Avoid the Death Penalty

FindLaw guest columnist, attorney, and author Elaine Cassel discusses defense strategy in the ongoing trial of Lee Boyd Malvo, the 18-year-old recently convincted of terrorism and capital murder in the "Beltway Sniper" killings. Cassel argues that while Malvo's insanity defense has been widely criticized as weak, his attorney were smart to present it because, along the way, they were able to put before jurors evidence that may convince them to spare Malvo from the death penalty.
Monday, Dec. 22, 2003

The First "Beltway Sniper" Guilty Verdict
Are There Grounds for Reversal on Appeal?

FindLaw guest columnist, attorney, and author Elaine Cassel discusses why the recent guilty verdict against John Allen Muhammad, in a Virginia trial in the Beltway sniper case, may be reversed on appeal. She raises three major issues -- one concerning Virginia's "triggerman" rule; one concerning the application of Virginia's terrorism statute; and one concerning a dubious evidentiary call by the trial judge.
Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2003

Why Citizens Should Be Concerned When Their Government Mistreats Aliens
A Review of David Cole's Enemy Aliens

FindLaw columnist, attorney, and author Elaine Cassel reviews Georgetown law professor and Nation correspondent David Cole's provocative recent book on the "war on terror," Enemy Aliens. Cole's thesis is that the way the government treats immigrants, is often the way it will soon treat citizens, too. To prove his point, he draws on examples ranging from '80s prosecutions of alleged communists, including the L.A. 8, to contemporary examples from Guantanamo Bay.
Friday, Oct. 31, 2003

Dead Wrong or Right On?
Should The Supreme Court Uphold the Ninth Circuit's Reversal of 122 Death Sentences Imposed by Judges, Not Juries?

FindLaw guest columnist, attorney, and author Elaine Cassel discusses a legal question that divided an en banc panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit: Should a U.S. Supreme Court decision requiring that juries, not judges, resolve facts relating to a death sentence be applied retroactively? If it is, hundreds of death row inmates may have new legal challenges. If it is not, states will be in the anomalous position of executing inmates whose convictions, if they had occurred later in time, would have been plainly unconstitutional.
Thursday, Sep. 11, 2003

Will Capital Punishment Ever Die?
A Review of The Contradictions of American Capital Punishment

FindLaw book reviewer, attorney and author Elaine Cassel discusses a new book on capital punishment by Boalt Hall law professor Franklin Zimring.  Zimring traces both the cultural roots of the American death penalty, and its likely fate in the future.  Cassel contends that the Bush Administration is out of step with the majority of Americans' death penalty views.
Friday, Aug. 01, 2003

Medicating the Mentally Ill for Trial and Execution:
What Are the Implications of the Supreme Court's Recent Decision?

FindLaw guest columnist, attorney, and author Elaine Cassel discusses the Supreme Court's recent decision in Sell v. United States, which sets forth the criteria for when the government may medicate a criminal defendant against his will in order to render him competent to stand trial.  Cassel covers not only the meaning of Sell, but also the kinds of defendants and inmates Sell's holding may not reach, and the questions on forcible medication that persist after Sell.
Thursday, Jul. 03, 2003

Can Iraq Become a Liberal Democracy?
And, Will American Remain One? A Review of Fareed Zakaria's The Future of Freedom

FindLaw book reviewer and attorney Elaine Cassel discusses Newsweek International Editor Fareed Zakaria's recent book, The Future of Freedom:  Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad.  Along the way, Cassel raises two provocative questions about the application of Zakaria's thesis: Can Iraq become not just a democracy, but a liberal democracy, with full civil liberties protections?  And, is the U.S. still truly a liberal democracy despite recent incursions into civil liberties?
Friday, Jun. 13, 2003

A Recent Judicial Reprimand of Attorney General Ashcroft Exposes a Pattern of Gag Order and Ethics Violations By His Office
FindLaw guest columnist, attorney and author Elaine Cassel discusses the legal backdrop to the Elizabeth Smart case. Cassel details the relevant Utah laws on kidnapping and the insanity defense, and describes the issues likely to arise as the case progresses.
Wednesday, Apr. 30, 2003

The Case of Elizabeth Smart:
The Law of Kidnapping, and the Possibility an Insanity Defense May Be Raised

FindLaw book reviewer, attorney, and author Elaine Cassel weighs in on Rutgers criminal justice professor Michael Welch's provocative assessment of historical and current laws relating to immigrants, Detained: Immigration Laws and the Expanding I.N.S. Jail Complex. Cassel explains the relevant laws and regulations, both predating and postdating 9/11, and assesses the conclusions Welch draws.
Thursday, Mar. 20, 2003

Did the Beltway Sniper Case Influence the Supreme Court's Recent Decision to Decline to Review the Juvenile Death Penalty?
FindLaw guest columnist, attorney, and author Elaine Cassel discusses a striking recent decision by the Supreme Court to decline to review a juvenile death penalty case. As Cassel explains, four Justices clearly believe the Court should strike down the juvenile death penalty, and in this case, they had enough votes to ensure Court review if they so choose.
Thursday, Feb. 06, 2003

The False Confessions In The Central Park Jogger Case:
How They Happened, and How To Stop Similar Injustices from Happening

FindLaw guest columnist, attorney, and author Elaine Cassel comments on the stunning recent reversal by the Manhattan D.A.'s office in the 1989 Central Park jogger case. Although the office avidly prosecuted five teenagers as the culprits then, it now has asked for the dismissal of all charges against them, due to a DNA match and confession with another man. Cassel explains how investigators' tactics may have led the boys to make false confessions at the time of the crime.
Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2002

The Shameful Treatment Of The Seventeen-Year-Old Sniper Suspect:
Why Malvo's Confession Should Be Suppressed

FindLaw guest columnist, attorney and author Elaine Cassel takes the controversial position that the confession of seventeen-year-old sniper suspect John Lee Malvo should be held inadmissible in court. Cassel also details several other ways in which Malvo's status as an adolescent is being ignored.
Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2002

The Lynne Stewart Case:
When Representing An Accused Terrorist Can Mean The Lawyer Risks Jail, Too

FindLaw guest columnist, attorney and author Elaine Cassel discusses the controversial indictment of New York City attorney Lynne Stewart. Stewart was indicted based on her communications with her client Sheik Abdel Rahman, who is serving a life sentence in connection with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Given the expansive post-9/11 regulation for the surveillance of attorney-client communications, what are the perils for those who, like Stewart, represent convicted, or even merely alleged, terrorists? Cassel explains.
Tuesday, Oct. 08, 2002

The Controversy Over Teaching Islam And The Koran:
Academic Freedom Versus Christian Fundamentalism In North Carolina

FindLaw guest columnist, attorney and author Elaine Cassel discusses the recent protest and lawsuit against the inclusion of a book entitled Approaching the Qur'an: The Early Revelations on the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill's reading list for incoming freshmen. With the help of the Family Policy Network, a Christian fundamentalist group, three UNC students sued the university for including the book on the list, claiming the inclusion amounted to an Establishment Clause violation. Cassel discusses the reactions of the judge and North Carolina legislature to the suit, and surveys legal precedents on academic freedom that tend to support UNC's stance in defense of its inclusion.
Thursday, Aug. 22, 2002

Repressed And Recovered Memories:
Why The Lessons Of The Sexual Abuse "Witch Hunts" Of The 1980s And 1990s May Be Relevant To The Catholic Church's Current Scandal

FindLaw columnist and attorney Elaine Cassel comments on the spate of recent claims of "recovered memory" of long-ago clergy child abuse. Cassel argues that while such claims may well be valid, they should be subject to careful scrutiny -- especially if they were raised only after the Catholic Church's recent scandal began to dominate headlines. Cassel discusses some inaccurate "recovered memory" claims that were made in the 1980s and 1990s against childcare workers, parents, priests and others, and examines the research on repressed and recovered memory.
Tuesday, May 21, 2002

The Andrea Yates Verdict And Sentence:
Did The Jury Do The Right Thing?

FindLaw guest columnist, attorney and author Elaine Cassel answers a number of key questions about the guilty verdict and life (rather than death) sentence in the case of Andrea Yates, the Texas mother who drowned her five children. Cassel discusses, for example, why Yates's insanity defense failed, how Texas's insanity standard compares to those of other states, why the same jury that convicted Yates also chose not to execute her, and how tragedies like Yates's killings can be prevented.
Monday, Mar. 18, 2002

Why The Supreme Court May Reverse Itself This Term, To Hold, In A New Case, That Executing The Mentally Retarded Is Unconstitutional
In 1989, in a 5-4 decision in which Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote the majority opinion, the Supreme Court held that executing the mentally retarded did not violate the Eighth Amendment's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. FindLaw guest columnist, attorney, and author Elaine Cassel explains why this Term, the Court may overrule or modify this ruling -- as a result of a new case in which the Court just heard oral argument -- and why Justice O'Connor herself may support the switch.
Thursday, Feb. 21, 2002

How The Supreme Court's Recent Case On Whether Students Can Legally Grade Each Other And Announce The Results May Impact Online Learning
FindLaw guest columnist, attorney and author Elaine Cassel discusses the implications of an important education case recently argued before the Supreme Court. As Cassel explains, the case has potential ramifications for the definition of what counts as an "educational record" protected by the federal privacy statute -- and that definition, in turn, may have a significant influence on what steps online education purveyors must take to protect the privacy of student online communications and other saved student data.
Thursday, Dec. 20, 2001

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