RECENT SUPREME COURT DECISION LEGALIZING DNA SWAP UPON ARREST

The US Supreme Court on June 3, 2013 in Maryland v. King (No. 12–207) and in a 5-4 narrow decision legalized taking the arrestee’s DNA sample along with the fingerprinting and mug shots. The case was initiated in the MD State court from the collection of DNA in 2009 from Alonzo Jay King Jr. after his arrest on assault charges in Wicomico County, Md.  King’s DNA sample collected by swabbing of his cheek, positive matched evidence from a 2003 rape case, and he was convicted of that crime which was unresolved. The MD Court of Appeals ruled that the State
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DC COURT OF APPEALS REVERSES CONVICTION DUE TO UNCORROBORATED CONFESSION:

The Court of Appeals recently in IN RE KA (No. 10-FS-1614, Feb. 2013) reversed K.A.’s weapons possession charges focusing on the governing legal principles of convictions based on confessions alone and the necessary corroboration in support thereof. The Court reiterated the long established Supreme Court legal principle, which requires confession to be corroborated in order to “forestall convictions based on extrajudicial confessions the reliability of which is a matter of suspicion.” Essentially in cases were conviction is based solely on a confession, self made statement, the government is required to introduce substantial independent evidence which would tend to establish the
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THE DC COMPREHENSIVE IMPAIRED DRIVING ACT: DC DWI/DUI LAWYER

This blog highlights some of the drastic changes to the drinking and driving law in the District.  The DC Comprehensive Impaired Driving Act of 2012 increased significantly (doubled) the penalties for drinking and driving and also increased the mandatory minimum sentences as such. Accordingly the first offense conviction on DUI/DWI now carries the same penalties as most criminal misdemeanors, a maximum of: 180 days/$1000 fines. The minimum statutory imposed incarceration even for the first time offenders was also doubles based on the blood alcohol level/content commonly referred to as BAC.  That is a BAC of 0.08 or more is considered
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THIRD PARTY CUSTODY: LEGAL STANDARD – RECENT DC COURT OF APPEALS CASE

There is rebuttable presumption that custody with a parent is in the best interests of the child unless proven otherwise by clear and convincing evidence.  In another word, there is a parental presumption of fitness that can only be overcome by clear and convincing evidence to the contrary.  This is also a constitutionally rooted and protected principle. In the District, a third party may file for custody of a minor child – however, the legal standard used – similar to adoption and termination of parental rights – is as stated: by clear and convincing evidence. Thus with the third party
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DC TEMPORARY PROTECTION ORDER/CIVIL PROTECTION ORDER TPO/CPO

LEGAL ELEMENTS Generally a TPO petition/affidavit is filed under oath attesting that the safety and welfare of the petitioner/affiant and/or a household member is imminently endangered by the respondent’s conduct and thus an immediate relief in form of a court order is needed to protect the petitioner and other listed members of the family.  The initial hearing is generally ex parte and almost always the petition is granted as long as sufficient facts are alleged.  Within 14 days of the issuance of the TPO order, the court will set the matter for a CPO hearing and the respondent would be
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PETITIONER’S FTINESS FINDING IN THE ADOPTION PROCEEDINGS: RELEVANT CASES AND THE STATUTORY PROVISIONS

This blog addresses legal principles applicable to the court’s fitness finding in the adoption cases when the health or fitness of the adoptive petitioner is at issue. There are statutory provisions that address both fitness as well as health of the petitioners, among other parties, and relevant case law, which extend possible waiver of the doctor-patient privilege when in the best interest of the child or justice to the petitioners as well as the natural parents. There is the Termination of parental rights: D.C. Code §16-2353 (b)(2), the court is charged with in considering what is in the best interest
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CHILD’S TESTIMONY, THE LEGAL PRINCIPLE:

Often times in the neglect and abuse, termination of parental rights, and adoption litigation — the child’s testimony can tip the scale one way or another.  Under the adoption statute, the child’s position, if the child is fourteen or older, shall be considered by the court.  Under the TPR statute, §16-2353(b)(2)&(4); mental and emotional needs of the child as well as the child’s opinion as to his/her best interest are both codified.  In child custody cases, the child’s opinion as to his/her physical custodian is one of the statutory elements, §16-914(3)(B).  Regardless, in family cases, the litigants face resistance from
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ENTIRE MOSAIC OF THE CHILD’S LIFE –- A LEGAL PRINCIPLE OR AN EXCUSE TO LET ALL NON-ADMISSIBLE EVIDENCE IN?

The pinnacle case that first defined and expounded on the “entire mosaic” of the child life was:  In re. S.K., 564 A.2d 1382 (DC 1989). The case was about excessive physical discipline of a child who had set her bed on fire.  Parents sufficiently outraged had both physically disciplined her, belting the child.   The mitigating factors were that the child had a pre-existing, documented severe psychological issues, with even suicidal ideations.  The parents were aware of that.  The court however found neglect based on a very narrow and isolated set of facts.  The judge focused only on the day and
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HEARSAY EXCEPTION FOR THE PURPOSE OF MEDICAL TREATMENT:

The recent Court of Appeals decision in IN RE. M.F. (No. 08-FS-733, Sept. 27, 2012), highlights how the litigation errors made at the trial level can tip the balance on the appeal. At issue, in part, was statements admitted by MF Fentress into record as admissible under the hearsay exception: statement made during medical diagnosis.  The evidence of abuse and neglect at trial was primarily elicited through the testimonies of a therapist, a treating medical professional and the social worker.  The bulk of testimony and evidence was the child’s account of events to these individual who all testified.  The litigants
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DC COURT OF APPEALS EXPANDING AND REAFFIRMING FATHER’S RIGHT

The DC Court of Appeals in IN RE D.S., K.M., B.S., R.S., T.S. & P.S.; J.M., issued on September 20, 2012, reiterated the legal principles governing placement of children in the custody of their biological parents in a split neglect case.  Here the evidence established that the mother physically neglected the children and removal from her home was warranted, however, the court did not sufficiently consider the biological father and placement of the children with him rather than the shelter care — basis for the Court of Appeals reversal of the case.  The father was willing and able, had sufficient housing
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